Joint Task Force teams up for African Lion 13 maritime offload
By Col. Matt Redding, USMC
| Marine Corps Forces Africa | April 11, 2013
AGADIR, Morocco --
As the morning rain ended and the Moroccan sun began to dry the pier, members of Joint Task Force Port Opening (JTF-PO), U.S. Strategic Command, emerged from a meager shelter in the overhang of a pier side warehouse. Mobilized to Morocco in support of Exercise African Lion 13, a U.S. Africa Command directed, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Africa-led multi-lateral exercise, they brought their expertise to the Port of Agadir to deliver prepositioned combat equipment to the Marines, soldiers and sailors supporting the exercise.
africn lion 13
African Lion is designed to improve the interoperability and mutual understanding of U.S. and Moroccan armed forces, helping both partners understand each other's military tactics, techniques, and procedures.
"We are here to work with our host nation partners and support the mission objectives of USTRANSCOM and USAFRICOM," stated Army Lt. Col. Marcilyn Patterson, the commander of JTF-PO for African Lion 13. "Here in the support side of JTF-PO, we have to make sure we meet the objectives of our higher headquarters and match them against the mission needs for the maneuver Joint Task Force."
JTF-PO members consisted of elements from the 839th Transportation BN, Livorno, Italy, the 688th Rapid Port Opening Element (RPOE), Fort Eustis, Va., and the U.S. Navy Reserve, 107th Expeditionary Port Unit (EPU-107), headquartered in Raleigh, N.C.
"We could not be more joint," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Philip Goodwin, the JTF-PO non-commissioned officer-in-charge (NCOIC) for the J-1 branch. "We have Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines all working side by side in the port here in Agadir to accomplish the same mission. We have trained hard for this for months, and it is exciting to see it in action."
African Lion is one of the premier events for exercising the port opening capabilities of the U.S. Joint Force. Although the capability is spread throughout the services, exercises such as African Lion ensure all the components can come together on short notice to support combatant commander objectives. Army Maj. Borovicka highlighted the value of this dual-purpose exercise and real-world download in the Port of Agadir.
"JTF-PO is very well suited to a fast port entry situation like we have here in Agadir," he explained. The habitual joint relationships, rapid port opening skill sets, and cargo distribution experience in the JTF-PO are serving us well in this environment, and I believe we're bringing real value-added to the entry stage of this exercise."
Navy Cmdr. Eric Gunn, the EPU-107 commander attested to the importance of this annual bi-lateral exercise with the Moroccan military.
"The Moroccans have been great to work with. It's
been gratifying to work with Moroccan civilians and military members alike, and know that both the U.S. and Morocco are benefiting from this outstanding training opportunity."
This Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) directed exercise will involve more than 1,400 U.S. military personnel once they have all arrived in Morocco.
Prior to the start of the field exercise, however, preparations began with the opening of the Port of Agadir to receive military cargo.
More than 400 pieces of military cargo were delivered by commercial carriers and Maritime Prepositioning Squadron Three. Containers, trucks, generators, trailers, and combat equipment were downloaded from the vessel Arc Freedom and USNS Dahl and staged for acceptance by the 14th Marine Regiment to take to the field later this month. Once all U.S. forces have arrived, they will join more than 900 Moroccan Royal Armed Forces (RAF) in various regions of the Kingdom of Morocco.
"Our success in this operation has been determined by the great partnership we share with the members of JTF-PO," commented Capt. Ania Driscoll, officer-in-charge of vessel preparation and cargo operations for the 14th Marine Regimental Arrival and Assembly Operations Group (AAOG).
"Every member of the JTF-PO has been helpful in making our efforts meet the exercise objectives. We are really glad to be deployed with them here and supporting our Moroccan friends and partners."