Israel observes US-African military exercises for first time

The African Lion drill ran for over three weeks in June in Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Ghana.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel participated as an observer for the first time in the recently-concluded, multi-national African Lion military exercise hosted by Morocco and led by the Americans’ Central Command for Africa (AFRICOM).

A direct result of the re-established relationship between the countries thanks to the 2020 Abraham Accords, the Israeli side consisted of two IDF officers and Israel’s Defense Attaché to Morocco.

“Israel’s participation in the exercise is an additional step in strengthening security relations between the countries,” the Israeli Ministry of Defense said in a statement. “The security and defense ties between Israel and Morocco are part of a wide range of connections in the fields of economy, culture, education, and more.”

The IDF soldiers observed maneuvers conducted with “more than 7,500 participants from 28 nations & NATO,” said AFRICOM.  The militaries of Brazil, Chad, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom were singled out for mention. It is AFRICOM’s “largest and premier annual exercise of its kind in Africa,” said the U.S. regional command.

The drills were spread over four countries – Morocco, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia. Israel was allowed to participate even though it has no diplomatic relations with Tunisia.

Among other drills over a three-week period, AFRICOM and the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces (FAR) “coordinated a joint-effort, quick-response containment and treatment facility during a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) defense demonstration in Agadir,” the Moroccan military tweeted.

There were also air, sea and ground live-fire exercises, as well as “a humanitarian civic assistance program event,” according to AFRICOM.

The purpose of the yearly drill is to strengthen “our shared defense capabilities to counter transnational threats and violent extremist organizations, which is in the common good of the U.S. and African partner nations,” the U.S. military added.

The exercises took place from June 6-30. Senior Israeli IDF officials just signed an agreement in Rabat in March for the two countries “to promote extensive military cooperation,” the IDF spokesperson said at the time, which included intelligence work, operational training, and multinational exercises.

Even before the formal agreement, FARS special forces participated last July in the multinational HD ANNUAL21 exercise Israel held, together with counter-terrorism units from the American, French, Greek, Italian and Jordanian armies. Among other training drills that were practiced were the clearing of underground tunnels and battle in a residential area.

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