US marks the latest innovations in the region's most stressful training in years

Morocco trains HIMARS system in African Lion military exercises

Ejercicio de inserción rápida HIMARS durante las maniobras African Lion, en Agadir, Marruecos - PHOTO/TWITTER/UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
PHOTO/TWITTER/UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS - HIMARS rapid insertion exercise during the African Lion manoeuvres, in Agadir, Morocco

Testing the most advanced rocket launcher system to date. The Moroccan and US armed forces have conducted live-fire exercises using the HIMARS system in the Agadir area of southern Morocco. They have done so with rocket launchers belonging to the US Marine Corps, but as a prelude to the imminent delivery to Rabat of 18 HIMARS systems already approved by the US State Department for $582 million. 

The training of these rocket launcher systems is part of the African Lion 2023 joint military exercises coordinated by Washington and Rabat, the largest on the continent. In this scenario, the Moroccan and US military have also carried out exercises on the fight against weapons of mass destruction to evaluate the response capacity of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) Relief and Rescue Unit in the event of a crisis involving nuclear, radiological, chemical or biological risks.

Simulations that have also been extended to the biggest military novelty of the moment: drones. Several units of the participating armies have calibrated their reaction capacity to counter a kamikaze drone attack against a target with a chemical storage facility. This is in addition to the land, sea and air tactical exercises on the African Lion's agenda. 

Far from strictly military aspects on the battlefield, the exercises also address how to deal with legal issues, public information, medical planning with the installation of field hospitals and cyber security. The newest aspects of contemporary conflicts already being experienced in regions such as the Sahel and the Sahara.

PHOTO/FILE - Ejercicios militares African Lion
PHOTO/FILE - African Lion military exercises

Morocco, Algeria and the growing threats from Africa 

Rabat is the dike of containment against the threats pouring into the continent. The jihadist threat, the influence of the Wagner mercenary group and its state sponsors such as Algeria are, in the Pentagon's eyes, one of the main sources of tension in the region. The African Lion manoeuvres are aimed at supporting Morocco in this fight, but also the necessary rearmament that the United States is leading and injecting into the Royal Armed Forces. 

In approving the delivery of HIMARS rocket launcher systems to Rabat, the State Department's Antony Blinken stated that it will "enhance Morocco's ability to meet current and future threats, and contribute to its ability to detect threats and control its borders, contributing to regional stability and security". Morocco is spearheading the arms race with Algiers at the most critical point in its relations with Rabat.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune's regime has staged an unprecedented massive deployment on the Algerian-Moroccan border in the same weeks as the African Lion manoeuvres. Algeria's army chief of staff, Said Chengriha, ordered the concentration of military units on the border with Morocco and warned of the military escalation that awaits the two North African countries from September onwards. 

Israel, the latest commitment to regional security 

Geopolitical tension mounts as Morocco manages to unite more partners in a political circle. For the first time, it has managed to get the Israeli army involved in the African Lion military manoeuvres, strengthening the increasingly close military cooperation between Rabat and Tel Aviv. This strategic scenario is in addition to the expressed willingness of the Knesset president to recognise Morocco's sovereignty plan over Western Sahara.

From 13 May to 16 June, some 8,000 soldiers from 13 countries are involved in an unprecedented deployment throughout the Western Mediterranean. Although Morocco is the host country hosting the exercises in the provinces of Agadir, Tan-Tan, Al Mahbes, Tiznit, Kenitra, Ben Guerrir and Tifnit, countries such as Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia are also taking part in the joint multinational exercises.