Morocco hosted both French and American troops for bilateral training exercises this month, reaffirming its role as a strategic regional military ally to the two world powers.
Rabat — In past weeks, Morocco hosted troops from the American and French navies to participate in joint preparatory defense exercises off the African coast, strengthening its long-standing military relationships with the two global powers.
In February, the French navy deployed its flagship “Charles de Gaulle” aircraft carrier to engage with Morocco’s “Allal Ben Abdellah” in a series of bilateral naval drills designed to improve the countries’ interoperability and air defense.
The exercises were part of the first phase of France’s “Clemenceau 21” deployment. Per the mission itinerary, the “Charles de Gaulle” will spend the next several months traveling through the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Gulf to aid in regional counterterrorism efforts.
Last week, Morocco hosted United States Navy forces to participate in the “Lightning Handshake”: a similar set of mutually-beneficial military drills between the US, the Royal Moroccan Navy (RMN), and the Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF).
The training centered on multilateral cooperation across numerous facets of interoperability: surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, air and strike warfare, combined logistics support, and maritime interdiction operations, according to an executive report of the exercise.
“Lightning Handshake 2021 increases the ability of US and Moroccan maritime forces to work together in order to address security concerns and increase stability in the region,” affirmed the US embassy in Rabat, underlining the regional importance of a strong US-Morocco military relationship.
Morocco is a longtime partner of the United States, as the two countries have collaborated on security issues including counterterrorism, conflict deterrence, and regional instability.
“Now more than ever, our two nations are working closely to tackle the challenges of an increasingly complex security environment,” said Mark Esper, former US Secretary of Defense. “We do this together to promote the security, the stability and the prosperity of our shared goals and our peoples.”
Experts often describe Morocco as “one of the US’ greatest non-NATO allies.”
“On behalf of the Sailors assigned to the IKE CSG, it’s an honor to participate in this historic bi-lateral maritime exercise; hallmarking 200 years of an enduring partnership with Morocco,” remarked Lightning Handshake participant Rear Admiral Scott Robertson. “Exercises like Lighting Handshake enhance the foundation of our interoperability and continued support of our long-term commitment to security in the region.”
Morocco will continue to bolster diplomatic and military relationships through training partnerships with allies. The country is set to co-host 5,000 troops from the United States, Tunisia, Senegal, and elsewhere later this June as part of “African Lion 21,” the continent’s “largest military exercise.”