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US, Moroccan Military Officials Launch Planning for African Lion 21

Rabat - Major Gen. Andrew Rohling, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Europe -Africa and Gen. Belkhir El Farouk, Royal Armed Forces Southern Zone Commander met, on Thursday in Agadir, to discuss plans for conducting next year's African Lion, the largest military training exercise on the continent, amidst the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The high-ranking officers agreed that the African Lion exercise, scheduled for June, "represents a chance to show the continued strong strategic partnership between the United States and Morocco, even as both countries face COVID-19," according to a statement by the Southern European Task Force – Africa.

"It was a pleasure meeting Gen. El Farouk in person for the first time," Rohling said, as quoted by the statement. He also praised the "caliber" and the "character" of Gen. El Farouk and his "understanding of the strategic environment."

"We clearly understand the importance of protecting our forces - U.S., Moroccan, and others anticipated to participate - from the pandemic," Rohling said. "Our staffs are carefully and deliberately planning African Lion 21 with this in mind," he added.

During these talks, the military officials also discussed regional defense and security topics, force readiness issues and COVID-19 challenges.

"We have a number of shared mutual challenges," Rohling said. "I'm confident that we will continue to build upon our already very strong relationship to meet these challenges," he stated.