An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | June 19, 2022

Utah, Moroccan, and Tunisian Paratroopers Jump Together at African Lion 22

By Maj. Brent Mangum, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Utah Army National Guard

Paratroopers from the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Utah Army National Guard, the Royal Moroccan Army, and the Tunisian Land Army boarded a Moroccan C-130 in Grier Labouihi, Morocco, June 19, and conducted both military free-fall and static-line jumps.

The jump – as an airborne operation is known – is 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.

Soldiers traveled from Agadir to the Grier Labouihi training complex. Prior to the jump, U.S. Soldiers conducted Basic Airborne Refresher and Sustained Airborne Training. BAR/SAT are walk-through rehearsal exercises which help jumpers remember and visualize the most important elements of safely exiting an aircraft and landing without injuries.

“I was terrified because it has been over a year since I graduated jump school and I had a hard landing on rocks, but no serious injury,” said Sgt. Andrea Mendez, a Soldier with the 19th Special Forces Group. “I’d say I did a perfect [parachute landing fall] since I have bruises in all the right places. I was surprised at how well I handled the chute since it’s different from the ones we used at jump school.”

The traditional T-10 parachute used at jump school is un-steerable, while the MC-6 parachute – used by U.S. Special Operations Command – is considered maneuverable with toggles and air vents that allow for some limited steering.

Arriving at the air strip, jumpers from each country donned their parachutes and then moved to a Jumpmaster Personnel Inspection, or JMPI, where they were inspected to ensure they were properly rigged and ready to safely jump.

“The whole thing was a huge challenge,” said Master Sgt. Dustin Boyack, a jumpmaster and the operation’s airborne commander. “When we went to the airborne coordination meeting, there was English, French, and Arabic going back and forth, but in the end it all worked out. The Group Support Battalion motto is ‘find a way’, and we did.

And it was awesome to jump from a Moroccan aircraft and see their procedures, which we adapted to, and to see how they would adapt to our procedures,” Boyack continued. “For example, they jumped using their version of [Computer Automated Release Point] and we jumped using [Ground Marked Release System].”

In a CARP jump the pilots give the ‘green light’ to exit based on their navigation tools, while GMRS, a jumpmaster in the aircraft will look for the release point by spotting panels on the drop zone before allowing paratroopers to exit the aircraft.

The participating countries’ paratroopers plan to hold a wing exchange ceremony June 28, a traditional event following a successful combined airborne operation.

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 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. Utah’s partnership with Morocco was established in 2003 and has blossomed into a mature strategic partnership. 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 development; and youth exchanges. These partnerships build strategic relationships in personal bonds and enduring trust.




Your Career Starts Here

A Soldier from the 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion engages an adversary as a part of an Oleoresin Capsicum or OC spray qualification event during an evaluation exercise, Aug. 20-21, 2022, for the Utah National Guard Response Force in Salt Lake CIty, Utah. During the OC spray qualification, a trainee gets sprayed in the eyes with OC and must engage two adversaries using baton techniques and drag a simulated casualty to safety. The NGRF is a quick response security force composed of Utah National Guard Soldiers designed to augment law enforcement when directed by the governor. The NGRF is comprised of approximately 300 Soldiers primarily from the 142nd MI. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Sgt. John Etheridge)
142nd MI Battalion conducts evaluation exercise for National Guard Response Force
By 1st Sgt. John Etheridge | Aug. 25, 2022
The 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 300th MI Brigade, conducted an evaluation exercise Aug. 20-21, 2022, for the Utah National Guard Response Force at the North Salt Lake Armory. During the exercise, Soldiers of the...

Col. Paul Peters (center) relinquishes command of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) by passing the unit colors first to Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Riggs (left), who then passed it to Col. Brian “Tony” Pazzaglia (right), during a change-of-command ceremony held at the Aaron R. Butler Readiness Center on Camp Williams, Utah, Aug. 20, 2022. Change-of-command ceremonies are a time-honored military tradition to mark the formal transfer of authority and responsibility from one unit commander to another. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jacob Jesperson/Released)
“I Promise You Unwavering Devotion”: Col. Pazzaglia Assumes Command of 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
By Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Free | Aug. 22, 2022
Col. Paul Peters relinquished command of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) to Col. Brian “Tony” Pazzaglia during a change-of-command ceremony held at the Aaron R. Butler Readiness Center on Camp Williams, Utah, Aug...

(From left to right) Air Force Master Sgt. Abraham Beh, Tech. Sgt. John Geister, Air Force Staff Sgt. Donovan Nielson, and Air Force Master Sgt. Sgt. Francisco Vasquez hoist the trophy of the Sgt. 1st Class James E. Thode Ruck March, August 19, 2022. Their team placed first among all other teams in the competitive category.
10th annual Thode Ruck March draws more than 100 participants
By Sgt. First Class Richard Stowell | Aug. 22, 2022
A rainbow appeared west of the hills just as participants started the 10th Annual Sgt. 1st Class James E. Thode Ruck March at Camp Williams, August 19, 2022...

Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Sherratt secures the brigade colors during the 65th Field Artillery Brigade change-of-command ceremony at Camp Williams, Utah, Aug. 13, 2022. During the ceremony, Col. Shawn Fuellenbach relinquished command to Lt. Col. Jason Wilde. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Rebecca Call)
65th Field Artillery Brigade “America’s Thunder” holds change-of command-ceremony
By Sgt. Rebecca Call | Aug. 13, 2022
The 65th Field Artillery Brigade, Utah Army National Guard, conducted a change-of-command ceremony at Camp Williams, Utah, Aug. 13, 2022. During the ceremony, Col. Shawn Fuellenbach relinquished command to Lt. Col.(P) Jason...

Col. Shahram Takmili passes the organizational colors to Brig. Gen. Charlene Dalto representing the relinquishing of command during the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade change-of-command ceremony, Aug. 6, 2022, at Camp Williams, Utah. During the ceremony, Col. Shahram Takmili relinquished command to Col. Cody Strong. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Derrik Cowley)
300th Military Intelligence Brigade conducts change of command ceremony
By Sgt. Alejandro Lucero | Aug. 8, 2022
The 300th Military Intelligence Brigade, Utah Army National Guard, conducted a change-of-command ceremony at the Lundell Readiness Center on Camp Williams, Utah, Aug. 7, 2022. During the ceremony, Col. Shahram Takmili...

Utah National Guard service members with the Region VIII Homeland Response Force, in cooperation with Utah Task Force 1, conduct search-and-extraction training on the new Collapsed Structure Venue Site during a readiness evaluation exercise at Camp Williams, Utah, August 3-7, 2022. The HRF mission involves identifying, training, and maintaining a deployable force of 500-plus service members who are ready to respond within the continental United States in the event of a catastrophic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or all-hazard event in order to mitigate suffering and loss of life. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack)
Utah National Guard’s HRF displays readiness during validation exercise
By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack | Aug. 8, 2022
Service members with the Utah National Guard’s Region VIII Homeland Response Force displayed efficiency and effectiveness during a readiness validation exercise at Camp Williams, Utah, from Aug. 3-7, 2022. During the...

U.S. Army Sgt. Spencer Fayles, a combat medic with the 144th Area Support Medical Company, representing the Utah National Guard in the All Guard National Best Warrior Competition, fireman carries an instructor through a simulated war zone during a grueling valor run in Tullahoma, Tennessee, July 26, 2022. The 3.4 mile valor run honored select Medal of Honor recipients at six different stations all designed to mimic actions taken deserving of the award–putting each competitor through similar circumstances. Fourteen of the nation’s best National Guard junior enlisted Soldiers and noncommissioned officers participate in an intensive, six-day competition throughout Tennessee to determine who will be named the Army National Guard's best-of-the-best. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack)
“Iron sharpens iron” – Utah Guardsman fosters competitive spirit at national Best Warrior Competition
By Staff Sgt. Jordan Hack | Aug. 2, 2022
TULLAHOMA, Tenn. - Summer heat and southern humidity set the stage for the 2022 All Guard National Best Warrior Competition, July 25-29. Fourteen of the Army National Guard’s best Soldiers arrived in Tennessee fresh off a...

Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 145th Field Artillery, headquartered at the Utah National Guard’s Spanish Fork Armory has continuously supported the Spanish Fork Flag Retirement Ceremony for the past 24 years. 

Members of the Utah National Guard, Boy and Girl Scouts, civil air patrol, naval sea cadets and other youth groups volunteer to be a part of this dignified U.S. flag retirement of the symbol of our country. 

Command Sgt. Maj. Spencer Nielsen, senior enlisted leader for the Utah National Guard, was the keynote speaker and has participated in all 24 years of the ceremony.
Utah National Guard supports the 24th annual Spanish Fork Flag Retirement Ceremony
By Ileen Kennedy | July 15, 2022
Streams of people entered the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds. Some in patriotic red, white and blue colors, others in military, scout, police and fire uniforms. There were local city and county officials and Spanish Fork City...

Delegates visit the Roland Wright Air National Guard Base, July 13, 2022, during Freedom Academy. Since 1961, the Utah National Guard and Honorary Colonels Corps have sponsored Freedom Academy and provided a challenging and engaging environment designed to teach young leaders the importance of freedom and that leadership is essential to its survival. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Ariel Solomon)
Utah Guard hosts 60th annual Freedom Academy
By Staff Sgt. Timothy Beery | July 15, 2022
Nearly every year, 61 years running, the Utah National Guard has hosted Freedom Academy, an immersive week-long experience tailored and designed to promote the ideals and principles of the United States of America to high...

The Utah National Guard held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Special Operations Forces Live-Fire Shoot House (SOF LFSH) at Camp Williams, Utah, July 11, 2022.
Soldiers from the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) perform a demonstration of advanced urban combat during the opening of the SOF LFSH. 
The SOF LFSH will primarily support U.S. Army Special Operations Forces in initial and advanced training related to close-quarter battle and urban combat scenarios. It will also support Utah Army National Guard Soldiers, as well as law enforcement agencies, in training on advanced urban combat skills to include advanced marksmanship techniques, close-quarter battle, and urban movement techniques. This live-fire shoot house facility will give Soldiers a premier facility to improve and hone combat techniques which will allow them to fight and win in any environment they are deployed.
Utah National Guard opens new Special Operations Live-Fire Shoot House
By Ileen Kennedy | July 11, 2022
The Utah National Guard’s new Special Operations Forces Live-Fire Shoot House (SOF LFSH) located at Camp Williams, Utah, officially opened, July 11, 2022...