NEWS | June 16, 2021

Humanitarian Efforts Strengthen Utah's Partnership with Morocco

By Tech. Sgt. Colton Elliott Utah National Guard

Gen. Belkhir El Farouk, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces Southern Zone Commander, welcomed Utah National Guard leaders to the humanitarian civic assistance portion of Exercise African Lion, in Tafraoute, Morocco June 16, 2021.

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, adjutant general Utah National Guard, U.S. Army Major General Andrew Rohling, U.S. Army Southern European Task Force Africa commander, and Brig. Gen. Charlene Dalto, land component commander, Utah National Guard, arrived at the Military Medical Surgical Field Hospital to learn more about the HCA and witness the partnership between the U.S. and Moroccan service members participating in African Lion 2021.

"Multinational exercises like African Lion allow the Utah National Guard's State Partnership Program to continue to build and enhance professional relationships while supporting interoperability of forces," said Turley. "It also allows both parties to further develop tactics, techniques, and medical procedures together, and continues to advance the capabilities of all participants.”

African Lion’s humanitarian mission allows U.S. military medical personnel 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.

"The HCA mission gives the U.S. military the opportunity to work side by side with Moroccan partners and share knowledge with medical providers, dentists, and medics; allowing us to learn from one another and increase our overall capabilities,” said Dalton.

African Lion 21 and humanitarian assistance are a continuation of the U.S. and Morocco's longstanding diplomatic relationship focused on security cooperation.

"Our ability to work with our Moroccan partners to provide humanitarian assistance is one of the most rewarding parts of African Lion and the relationship with the Kingdom of Morocco," said Command Sgt. Maj. Spencer Nielsen, senior enlisted advisor, Utah National Guard. "Seeing Moroccan and U.S. Forces together, particularly Utah National Guard, makes us very proud, and it is humbling to see that we can have that much affect on the local populace.”

Following the tour of the hospital, a small reception was held on-site. During the reception, Farouk presented Turley with a certificate of appreciation and expressed his gratitude to the state of Utah and the medical providers.

“We are appreciative and grateful for the truly remarkable medical care provided to the Moroccan citizens, said Farouk."

In its 16th year, African Lion stands as U.S. Africa Command's premier exercise. African Lion 2021, hosted by Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal, allows more than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO to train together June 7-18, with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. The multi-domain, multi-component, and multinational exercise, employs a full array of mission capabilities with the goal to strengthen interoperability among participants and to support the U.S. National Defense Strategy.

"The Utah National Guard State Partnership Program’s longstanding relationship with Morocco cultivates and promotes enduring relationships of trust and confidence with Morocco's military while bolstering U.S. defense security goals," said Turley. "The objectives of events like African Lion 21 are to strengthen our bilateral partnerships, build and test our joint team strategic readiness, and to promote regional cooperation to strengthen the ability of African militaries to work together."