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NEWS | April 26, 2011

South Carolina Air National Guard welcomes Moroccan air force officials

By Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hudson, U.S. Air Force South Carolina Air National Guard

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. - The South Carolina Air National Guard hosted members of the Moroccan air force during a week-long visit this month.

The trip to McEntire Joint National Guard Base was facilitated by the Utah National Guard, with which the Moroccans have a state partnership through the state partnership program. The South Carolina extension of that partnership began in January 2010 when the Utah Air National Guard refueled two SC ANG F-16s en route to an air show in Marrakech, Morocco.

Later that year, two Moroccan air force officers visited to get a first-hand look at the 169th's operations and ongoing construction projects and to check out operations at nearby Shaw Air Force Base.

In July, the Moroccan air force is scheduled to receive Block 52 F-16s, Falcon fighters, similar to the ones flown by the 169th. Because of this, visiting officers benefited from a closer look at associated maintenance, operations and safety programs.

"We've appreciated the opportunity to facilitate this historic transition for our new friends in Morocco," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Williams, commander of the 169th FW.

"Though these visits were intended primarily to share our expertise, both units benefit from the exchange of information and insight," Williams said.

In addition to similar missions, McEntire and the base at which the Moroccan F-16s will be stationed share similar operating budgets and physical aspects.

The recent visit served as an opportunity to examine the base's various training programs and day-to-day maintenance activities, said Col. Maj. Cheikh Boutahar, a Moroccan air force officer.

"With the help of McEntire and their experience, we will succeed," Boutahar said.