The U.S. Army is wrapping up its capstone series of exercises this week in Africa, where troops have fanned out for drills involving numerous partner nations grappling with expanding insurgencies at home.
African Lion 23, which concludes Friday, has involved 17 countries and more than 8,000 troops, who have been training across northern and western Africa for more than a month.
The effort comes as terrorist-attack numbers soar in places like the Sahel, which has emerged as a global epicenter for terror.
African Lion, U.S. Africa Command’s largest exercise on the continent, has operated out of training camps in northern and western Africa, with Morocco as a primary host. Participating countries from western Africa such as Chad, Niger and Nigeria have been at the forefront of the fight against various militant groups, ranging from Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates to the Nigerian homegrown group Boko Haram.
The Army said the tactics worked on during African Lion are designed to help militaries deal with any number of potential threats, from countering insurgencies to dealing with environmental disasters.
During the exercise, the U.S. brought significant firepower with it. The Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade, reconnaissance Marines, and major weapons like High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, Abrams tanks, F-16 fighters and B-52 bombers all factored into events.
The Sahel, which includes countries across Africa’s vast Sahara region, accounted for 43% of global terrorism deaths in 2022, according to the Global Terrorism Index. That situation raises thorny questions for the U.S., including whether large-scale training initiatives like African Lion — and smaller ongoing training efforts happening year-round — are making a difference.
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