US-led war games in Africa wrap up after two weeks of exercises

A military exercise involving more than 7,000 U.S., African and NATO troops wrapped up on Friday in northern Africa.

Known as the African Lion war games, the two-week drill — the continent’s largest — took place in Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal and involved participants from nine nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Italy and the Netherlands.

The drills usually take place annually but were canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, the head of Africa Command, said at the start of the drills that COVID-19 “has not changed our focus on engaging with our Africa partners.”

“We understand how important this training is to our forces and our partners and how to better operate in a degraded COVID environment,” Townsend said in a statement.

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That goal appeared to be achieved on Friday, when Maj. Gen. Andrew Rohling, leader of the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, said it had been an “exceptional” exercise, according to The Associated Press.

“It has helped our interoperability, our joint capabilities, and provided readiness and a good opportunity to build cohesion across the forces,” he told reporters Friday.

The exercise, meant to focus on bolstering readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces, took place as Africa is facing persistent Islamic State, al Qaeda and Boko Haram fighters in the Sahel.

To quell such threats, the Pentagon is mulling sending dozens of Special Forces trainers back to Somalia to help local forces fight al-Shabab, the terrorist group affiliated with al Qaeda, The New York Times reported this week.


Such a move would partly reverse former President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will ‘likely’ be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE’s decision to withdraw almost all of the 700 U.S. troops there in January. 

Asked about the Pentagon’s plans on Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Pentagon pulling ‘certain forces and capabilities,’ including air defenses, from Middle East US officials: Iranian ships changing course away from Venezuela MORE would not confirm the Times report, only allowing that the department is in the midst of a force posture review to better inform officials on where to place troops across the globe.

“The Somalia issue and other issues will be a part of that,” Austin said during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

“The focus will be to make sure that, you know, whether it’s in Somalia or some other place in the world, that terrorists don’t have the ability to threaten our homeland from an ungoverned space.”