TIFNIT, Morocco – More than 55 Marines and sailors from Military Police Company, Headquarters Battalion, 4th Marine Division participated in peace keeping operations training with members of the 7th Battalion, Brigade Infantry Mobile of the Royal Moroccan Army here as part of exercise African Lion 2008 from June 9-29.
Focusing on a large variety of military police tactics, techniques and procedures the Marines worked to continue forging and strengthen partnerships with the Moroccan military through shared training that will aid both forces in cooperative efforts to respond to crises and promote stability.
“(This exercise) has given us the opportunity to foster cooperation and teamwork between the U.S. and Moroccan forces, which strengthens our relationship,” said 1st Lt. Eric Kaltrider, inspector instructor for the Wahpeton, N.D. reserve MP detachment and a native of West Minster, Md. “In addition to the ability to train with our Moroccan allies, this is a good opportunity for our Marines to get used to working with allied foreign militaries in general.”
The majority of the training here focused on non-lethal weapons, mounted and dismounted patrols, vehicle and personnel searches, control points, weapons familiarization fires and Marine Corps Martial Arts.
In addition to the sharing of these professional tactics, techniques and procedures, the Marines said the training was a good opportunity to learn about the cultural differences of working with other forces.
“A lot of (our real-world missions) are joint and bi-lateral, so our Marines need to be used to operating in this environment,” said Capt. Joe Keegan, MP Co. commanding officer and Fort Worth, Texas resident. “This is what we do. We train and prepare our Marines to be ready for any situation.”
A special focus during the training was the emphasis on non-lethal weapons, which Keegan said the Moroccans asked for specifically. With a important role in United Nations peace keeping operations, Keegan said the non-lethal weapons portion was beneficial to Moroccans real-world military operations.
“For the Moroccans, this training is applicable to what they are doing every day,” said Keegan, who is also a police officer with the Arlington, Texas Police Department. “As military policemen, our mission is always changing and non-lethal weapons give us a lot of flexibly so that we can accomplish the mission.”
According to Eric Damm, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe non-lethal weapons program, the non-lethal weapons portion of the training is designed to aid bi-lateral training by giving partner nations the ability to enhance their security and stability.
“We are working with our partner nations to give them the ability to carry out their law enforcement, security and military operational requirements without being oppressive or injurious to their population,” Damm said. “These non-lethal weapons give them a viable method of force escalation that allows them to control the situation without having to resort to deadly force.”
Although exercise African Lion is an annual training event that has given Moroccans and Americans the ability to train together for several years, this year marked the first time that military policemen from both services have trained in the Tifnit area.
“The training gives us an opportunity that we can use to expand our knowledge and it is a great benefit to our soldiers,” said Royal Moroccan Army Sgt. Adil Noman, a member of the headquarters of the RMA Southern Area Command. “We must be familiar with this training because of our work with the UN. Each year we gain a great benefit and get new information on how to work with foreign forces.”
The military police training served as important part in the multi-faceted, bi-lateral training that was conducted throughout exercise African Lion 08. In addition to the training here, Marines from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines; 4th Marine Logistics Group; 4th Medical Battalion; and Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 234 all worked with their Moroccan counterparts to conduct combined arms, aviation, humanitarian assistance and logistical support training.
Overall, both the Marines and the Moroccans said they enjoyed the opportunity to work and train with each other throughout the exercise.
“I think it is more about building and keeping good relations,” said Cpl. Dustin Kremer, military police officer with the Twin Cities Detachment of the reserve MP Co. and a Mankato, Minn. resident. “(Our actual company) might not ever work with these soldiers again, but both of us will remember the confidence that we have built throughout our time here.”