700 New York Army National Guard Soldiers heading to North Africa for exercise in May

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An Oregon Army National Guard M-1A1 Abrams tanks moves out during African Lion 2023 in Morocco. The New York Army National Guard is participating in this years exercise.

LATHAM, NEW YORK (04/29/2024) (readMedia)-- Seven hundred New York Army National Guard Soldiers will take part a multi-national training exercise in Tunisia and Morocco in May.

The bulk of the New York National Guard Soldiers involved in the exercise are part of the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment and will be training in Morocco in the second half of the month.

The regiment is headquartered in Utica and has elements in Geneseo, Morrisonville, Ithaca, and Glenville.

The 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery, will deploy 120 Soldiers with a battery of 105 millimeter M114A1 howitzers, based at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in New Windsor, to Tunisia in early May.

The exercise, dubbed African Lion, will be the largest U.S. military training event conducted on the African continent. Over 8,100 military personnel from 27 counties, and NATO will participate in training events in Morocco, Tunisia, Ghana, and Senegal.

"Multinational exercises like African Lion allow us to work shoulder to shoulder with multiple international partners and be part of a unique multinational force," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Frank Engle, the commander of the 108th Infantry.

"We relish the opportunity to demonstrate our proficiency on the continent," he said.

Engle's battalion will take part in operations in Morocco, along with soldiers from the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team headquarters based in Syracuse, the 152nd Brigade Engineer Battalion from Buffalo, and the 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery. The 258th Field Artillery is headquartered in Jamaica, Queens, but is currently operating out of Camp Smith, near Peekskill, while the armory is being rebuilt.

The 108th Infantry will fire Tube-launched, Optically tracked, wire-guided missiles, known as TOWs, and Javelin anti-tank missiles during the training.

African Lion 2024 is the 20th anniversary of a training exercise that initially involved just the U.S. Marine Corps and the Moroccan military.

The exercise, coordinated by U.S. Africa Command, is designed to enhance regional cooperation and security in North and West Africa. It is an opportunity to conduct realistic, dynamic, and collaborative training to strengthen interoperability and build readiness, according to the command website.

The New York National Guard Soldiers will be taking part in live fire exercises as part of drills involving naval gunfire and even B-52 bombing missions in Morocco.

"This will be easily the biggest thing I've ever seen," Engle said.

National Guard units from Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Dakota, Vermont and Virginia will also take part in the training, alongside U.S. active duty forces, including the U.S. Army and Air Force Reserve and a large cohort of allied and partner nations.

Humanitarian assistance visits by military doctors and dentists in local villages will also be part of the exercise in Morocco.

Additional imagery, videos and stories related to African Lion 2024 can be found at the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at https://www.dvidshub.net/feature/AfricanLionEx