NEWS | June 9, 2021

U.S. Airmen begin African Lion humanitarian efforts

By Tech. Sgt. Annie Edwards Utah Air National Guard

Approximately 80 U.S. Air National Guard and active duty airmen joined more than 100 members of the Moroccan military to provide medical care to 461 patients on June 7, at a surgical field hospital set up for humanitarian civic assistance during African Lion 2021.

The hospital, operating through June 17, will provide general medical care, level 2 surgical and dental care, as well as several specialties including cardiology, ear, nose, and throat, optometry, pediatrics, orthopedics, gynecology, and dermatology. The field hospital also includes a pharmacy and offers public health and social services.

“This is a great opportunity for both the Moroccans and the U.S. to work together for the betterment of the Moroccan citizens,” said Lt. Col. Todd Bingham, ground commander for the U.S element of the medical portion of African Lion 2021. “It gives us an opportunity to come and assist by providing the best health care we can.”

The humanitarian mission allows the military care providers to work with their Moroccan counterparts while serving civilians that may otherwise have difficulty receiving some types of medical care due to remote locations or lack of access within their community.

“This gives all of our providers and medics experience working in an austere environment and the opportunity to treat different things that they may not have seen before,” said Capt. Dan Eicher, Utah Air National Guard State Partnership Program coordinator.

Eicher said the collaboration with Moroccan medical care providers is an important opportunity for the Air National Guard providers to learn from individuals’ expertise in different areas.

Senior Airman Hannah Potter, a dental technician with the 419th Fighter Wing, said she was very excited about participating in the exercise and “it is really neat to see how appreciative people are of the dental care.”

“The best part is getting to interact with different people and hear their stories and appreciate all the different backgrounds,” said Potter.

African Lion 2021 is U.S. Africa Command's largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal, 7-18 June. More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO train together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. African Lion 21 is a multi-domain, multi-component, and multinational exercise, which employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants and to support the U.S. National Defense Strategy.