Morocco has long-been a stable ally and partner of the United States. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Morocco showed solidarity and renewed its commitment as a strong partner of the US on counterterrorism and military cooperation. Cooperation between Morocco and the US includes data sharing, law enforcement partnership, improvement of capabilities to oversee strategic checkpoints, and termination of terrorist organization financing.
Today, that friendship continues with extended cooperation in many fields, highlighted by our common commitment to combating terrorism and advancing regional security, the 2004 Free Trade Agreement, the designation of Morocco as a major Non-NATO ally, and the signing of a $697.5 million Compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation to reduce poverty and increase economic growth.
The US and Morocco maintain excellent military-to-military ties. In recognition of this, the US has doubled military assistance to the country and honored Morocco with “major non-NATO ally status,” which qualifies Morocco for increased US military cooperation. These ties feature regular joint exercises and military sales; such transfers deepen ties and help promote a modern military in Morocco.
Over 1,000 U.S. military personnel from across the services and 1,000 members of the Moroccan military participate annually in the flagship bilateral military exercise, African Lion, and smaller bilateral exercises are held regularly. The exercise is designed to promote interoperability and mutual understanding of military tactics, techniques, and procedures.
In 2008, Morocco chose to further strengthen its bilateral military cooperation with the United States by signing a contract for 24 Advanced F-16 Block 52 aircraft manufactured by Lockheed-Martin. According to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “the sale will also contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by enhancing Morocco's capability to support US efforts in the global war on terrorism." Recent Moroccan purchases of US defense materiel also include T-6 trainer aircraft, AGM-D air-to-ground missiles, AM 120-C7 missile systems, and refurbishment worth over $1 billion of Abram M1A1 tanks, among others.
The US also contributes military support to Morocco through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET) initiatives. Under the FMF program, the US provides ecurity assistance to maintain aging US-origin equipment, Morocco is Committed to Creating a Deeper Military Alliance with the United States including aircrafts and transportation vehicles; boost maritime surveillance to address illegal immigration, smuggling, drug trafficking, and illicit fishing; procure transport and logistics equipment; and upgrade aerial surveillance.
Through the IMET assistance program, of which Morocco is one of the top 20 recipients worldwide, senior military officers have received training in the United States. 70 Moroccan students are sent annually to the Professional Military Education (PME) classes at US services schools. These courses cover human rights norms and the proper use of US military equipment, and allow for increased collaboration between the US and Moroccan armed forces. As the 2012 Congressional Budget Justification noted, “the Moroccan military offers a significant force multiplier for US initiatives to promote regional stability on the African continent through military education. The Moroccan military trains several other African and European militaries in their schools and training facilities,” thus contributing to peace and security in all of North Africa.
To this day, the US continues to recognize Morocco’s vital role in promoting stability and security in the Sahara and Sahel. In a Joint Statement issued by the United States and Morocco following the historic visit between King Mohammed VI and President Obama in November 2013, the two leaders acknowledged the important US-Morocco partnership on the UN Security Council over the past two years for the advancement of international peace and security, including in Mali, the Sahel, Syria, Libya, and the Middle East. They also reaffirmed their commitment to deepen civilian and military cooperation in the areas of non-proliferation and
counter-terrorism and their intent to continue cooperation to bolster democratic criminal justice institutions and counter the threat of violence extremism in the region.