A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin 155 mm howitzer with the Georgia Army National Guard watches fired artillery observation rounds during Exercise African Lion 21, at the Tan-Tan Training Area, Morocco. (Photo by Sergeant First Class R.J. Lannom.)
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TAN-TAN, Morocco – U.S. Army Soldiers with the Georgia Army National Guard completed a nighttime multinational live-fire training during exercise African Lion. African Lion 2021 is U.S. Africa Command’s largest premier joint annual exercise, hosted by Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal. 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 Sergeant First 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 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 Battalion Paladins shot M1066 infrared illuminating projectiles into the sky. The infrared projectiles brighten the sky with light that is invisible to the naked eye but viewable through night vision goggles. The U.S. infantry uses 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 interoperability of U.S. and partner forces.
“[I] 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.”
If you’re looking for leadership training, the Army National Guard is looking for you. The National Guard gives you the opportunity to pursue a civilian career while serving part-time in your home state, so you can stay close to your family and friends. With positions in more than 130 career fields, you can find your perfect fit. Check out the job board for more information on available careers and contact a local recruiter to learn more.
From an original article by Captain Bryant Wine, Georgia Army National Guard, which appeared in the news section of nationalguard.mil in June 2021.