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AFRICOM cancels major exercise over coronavirus concerns

In a March 1, 2020 photo, M109A6 Paladins of the Utah Army National Guard are staged for movement from the port in Agadir, Morocco, to training areas where they were to be used as part of African Lion 20, the largest exercise in Africa.

U.S. ARMY AFRICA

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 16, 2020

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STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. Africa Command said Monday that it has canceled one of its largest exercises on the continent over concerns about the coronavirus.

Exercise African Lion 2020 was slated to take place between March 23 and April 4 in Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal. Last week, AFRICOM said it would scale back the exercise because of concerns over the virus.

Since then, the Pentagon has become more cautious about carrying out training exercises amid a rise infections overseas and at home. The military has canceled a string of exercises in recent days and cut most of its large and long-planned Defender Europe-20 exercise.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the decision to cancel the exercise was made based on international travel restrictions associated with the novel coronavirus and to minimize the risk of exposure to U.S. and partner nation service members,” AFRICOM said.

While the exercise has been an AFRICOM staple for years, this is the first time the U.S. Army was running the drill. Historically, it was a Marine Corps exercise in Africa.

Meanwhile, planning is already underway for African Lion 2021, AFRICOM said.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
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