NEWS | June 29, 2021

Humanitarian efforts strengthen Utah-Morocco partnership

By Tech. Sgt. Colton Elliott, Utah National Guard Public Affairs

TAFAROUTE, Morocco – 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 June 16.

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, visited the Military Medical Surgical Field Hospital to learn more about the program and witness the partnership between 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," Turley said. "It also allows both parties to further develop tactics, techniques and medical procedures together, and continues to advance the capabilities of all participants."

The humanitarian mission enables U.S. military medical personnel to work with their Moroccan counterparts while serving civilians who may otherwise lack access to medical care.

"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," Dalton said.

African Lion 21 and humanitarian assistance continue the United States 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 effect on the local populace."

At a reception following the hospital tour, Farouk presented Turley with a certificate of appreciation and thanked the state of Utah and the medical providers.

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

In its 16th year, African Lion stands as U.S. Africa Command's premier exercise. During African Lion 2021, hosted by Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal, more than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO trained together June 7-18.

"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."