By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tessa Watts, Marine Forces Reserve
AGADIR, Morocco -- Reserve Marines from Marine Forces Reserve Force Headquarters Group’s 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company and 6th Communication Battalion, improved military interoperability and readiness as they participated in African Lion 2018, an annual multinational and joint-force exercise conducted in Morocco April 17-27.
“The Marines of 6th Communication Battalion have been supporting the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Detachment Maritime Support Team and the deployable joint command control center that they have set up, so they’ve been able to assist in the establishment of the nonsecure internet protocol router and the secret internet protocol router,” said Marine Corps Capt. Deivy Martinez, a communications officer with 6th Communication Battalion, Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve. “They’re also assisting the United States Africa Command with the African Mission Network. That was the first time it’s ever been used.”
The reserve Marines have provided the exercise with crucial support to ensure the mission’s operational success. “At the command post exercise location, we’ve supported at least 100 personnel, including U.S. forces and other nations as well,” Martinez said.
The African Mission Network’s success during African Lion 2018 was a major accomplishment, so the efficiency of communication operations proved to be critical.
“We were able to assist in bringing a rapid response kit, which is a satellite dish that allows people to access the network from a remote location such as Tifnit,” Martinez said. “They were able to take that equipment and set it up in Tifnit, so the coalition forces down there are able to access [the African Mission Network].”
The communication support was provided at the command post exercise site in Agadir and a field-training exercise in Tifnit, and the air and naval support was provided in Tan Tan.
“Training we did here includes advising and assisting with the close air support and naval gunfire,” said Marine Corps Maj. Eric B. Rice, an infantry officer with 4th ANGLICO, Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve.
“Being able to support over 100 customers, and not only U.S. forces, but other countries as well, that’s a huge advantage to these Marines,” Martinez said.
Along with the Marines playing a large role in the success of the exercise, they also benefitted from the training and experience they received.
“The biggest benefit to the Marines is the liaison,” Rice said. “A lot of these guys haven’t had opportunities to work with other militaries and actually advise and assist them and give them the training they need to have trust and confidence in their own skills to go out and operate.”
The exercise provided training exclusive only to experiencing a multinational exercise such as African Lion 2018. The Marines were able to learn how to work with and improve interoperability with other nations, as well as perform their military occupational specialty in a realistic training scenario.