TAN-TAN, Morocco – U.S. Army Soldiers with the Georgia Army National Guard completed nighttime multinational live-fire training during exercise African Lion 21 June 13-14.
African Lion 2021 is U.S. Africa Command's largest premier joint annual exercise, hosted by Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal June 7-18. More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO train together to enhance readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces.
“To see their [multinational partners] motivation and enthusiasm for this exercise is contagious and has gone all the way down to our youngest riflemen,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Bates, a platoon sergeant with the Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Georgia Army National Guard. “It’s great to share the common love of soldiering.”
The live-fire training began with U.S. and Moroccan forward observers calling in their targets to firing batteries kilometers away on the firing line.
Moroccan artillery opened fire with high explosive rounds, simulating the need to force enemy combatants to fix in place and take cover. Next, M109A6 Paladin howitzers assigned to the Georgia Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 214th Field Artillery, 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, lit up the sky with M485 illumination rounds. U.S. and Moroccan infantry moved under the concealment of degraded light, identifying and laying small-arms fire on their targets.
The Georgia Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, formed the infantry force maneuvering on the ground.
Following completion of training under visible illumination, the Granite Battalion Paladins shot over M1066 infrared illuminating projectiles. The IR projectiles brighten the sky with light that is invisible to the naked eye but viewable through night-vision goggles.
The U.S. infantry used the night-vision goggles to build confidence in their equipment and their ability to move, communicate and shoot in austere environments.
African Lion 21 training enhances the lethality and interoperability of U.S. and partner forces.
“Myself, as a platoon sergeant, am far more confident in what my squads can do despite being put into a new, challenging environment,” said Bates. “They were able to adapt to the situation. We were able to develop new techniques to respond to illumination, and we were able to execute the mission.”