By Sgt. Nathan Baker
Utah Army National Guard
Medical providers from the Utah National Guard’s Medical Readiness Detachment, 144th Area Support Medical Company, and 151st Medical Group, Detachment 1, joined providers from the U.S. Army’s 30th Medical Brigade, to set up a Humanitarian Civic Assistance operations center, in Taliouine, Morocco, on June 21, 2022.
These Soldiers and Airmen have been working hand-in-hand with their Moroccan and Tunisian counterparts to provide medical treatment to local Moroccan nationals. This year's operations include many medical services from emergency medicine to basic child care.
Medical personnel are treating Moroccans within a 10-mile radius of Talouine, in very rural areas of central Morocco. Services being provided by this field hospital include dental, ear, nose and throat, cardiology, ophthalmology, gynecology, dermatology, internal medicine, emergency medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, women's education, and child care.
“The Utah Army and Air National Guard has been providing humanitarian medical treatment as part of African Lion for over a decade,” said Col. Marcus Wisner, the Utah Medical Readiness Det. commander. “During the exercise we are expecting to treat 20,000 people. The field hospital will be servicing civilians from around the Taliouine province.”
Medical personnel working the HCA include more than 200 Moroccans, 70 Utah Army and Air National Guards members, 14 Active U.S. Army augmentees, and seven Tunisians.
“Our mission here in Morocco essentially involves us partnering with the Moroccan and Tunisian military to provide services for the people of Morocco,” said Lt. Col. Trish Brown, deputy commander for clinical services, Utah Army National Guard Medical Readiness Det. “It does a couple of things for us. First of all, it helps create joint capabilities with the Moroccan military in the medical arena and it also allows us to provide services to the people in Morocco who otherwise might not not have access to care. We bring doctors with various specialities. We bring dentists, we bring medications, and we bring equipment here in order to see as many people as we can to hopefully improve the lives of the people of Morocco while improving our joint capabilities with the Moroccan military.”
Numerous individuals and organizations went above and beyond what was expected by donating items to include, among other things, toys, hygienic products, and dental equipment. Donations ranged from individuals, to U.S. nonprofits and businesses, to a local Moroccan family donating $2 million worth of dental equipment, 5,000 wooden cars, more than $3,000 in medical treatment supplies, 650 femine hygiene kits, and 100 soccer balls were used by or given away to local Moroccans.
These U.S., Moroccan, and Tunisian Soldiers and Airmen are part of African Lion 22, U.S. Africa Command's largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Ghana, Senegal, and Tunisia, June 6 - 30. More than 7,500 participants from 28 nations and NATO are training together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces. AL22 is a joint, all-domain, multi-component, and multinational exercise, employing a full array of mission capabilities with the goal of strengthening interoperability among participants and setting the theater for strategic access.
Morocco was one of the first countries to recognize the newly independent U.S. when Sultan Mohammed III, in 1777, opened Morocco’s ports to American ships. Soon thereafter, Morocco formally recognized the U.S. by signing a treaty of peace and friendship in 1786, a document that remains the longest unbroken relationship in U.S. history. In 2003, Utah and Morocco established a partnership which has blossomed into a mature strategic partnership. In 2004, the U.S. designated Morocco a major non-NATO ally.
Along with the thousands of active-duty U.S. troops that train in Morocco every year are hundreds of Utah’s service members. This year, Utah’s troops are training in and around the Moroccan cities of Agadir, Tifnit, Taliouine, Guelmim, and Ben Guerir.
“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 Maj. Gen. Michael J. Turley, adjutant general, Utah National Guard. “They also allow both parties to further develop tactics, techniques, and procedures together, and advance the capabilities of all participants.”
The National Guard in each state in the U.S. has a partnership with one or more foreign partners. The overarching goal is support of U.S. government objectives in-country and within the region using a variety of military-to-military engagements. The SPP has expanded to military-to-civilian and civilian-to-civilian interactions that support the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to U.S. security cooperation. Focus areas that support strategic lines of effort and the National Guard’s objectives are: combined-arms capabilities (including Moroccan Special Operation Forces, Apache AH-64, artillery, and F-16 refueling interoperability), humanitarian demining (HMA/EOD); emergency medicine; disaster response; noncommissioned officer NCO development; and youth exchanges. These partnerships build strategic relationships in personal bonds and enduring trust.
Your Career Starts Here