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NEWS | May 20, 2010

Tennessee Guardsmen teach transportation course to Moroccan army

By U.S. Marine Sgt. Lydia M. Davey U.S. Marine Forces Africa

AGADIR, Morocco, - A class of 22 Royal Moroccan Army motor transportation drivers and mechanics participated in a course on Heavy Equipment Transport Systems during exercise African Lion, May 6.

The course was part of African Lion 2010, an annually-scheduled, joint, combined U.S.-Moroccan exercise.

Currently, the Moroccan military has a slightly older version of the Heavy Equipment Transport System (HETS), which can transport payloads up to 70 tons. However, with new vehicles on the way, the Moroccan military requested a brief course from U.S. forces.

"We already have a general knowledge of the vehicles, and are familiar with the technology," said Royal Moroccan Army Lt. Mohammed El Moutaouakkil, transportation officer with the RMA 3rd Transportation Group. "However, this is a good opportunity for us to stay current in our knowledge."

The seven-day course provided a comprehensive look at vehicle maintenance, driving techniques and loading and operating procedures, said U.S. Army Staff Sergeant William Rose, a heavy equipment operator with the Tennessee National Guard's 1175th Transportation Company.

"We are reviewing all the functions of the trucks," Rose said. "From cab controls to winches, to the coupling and uncoupling of the trailers as well as basic maintenance, we're reviewing it."

The students and instructors spent about 40 percent of their time in the classroom, and 60 percent involved in practical application of the new material.

"So far, our main challenge has been the language barrier," Rose noted. "However, several of the Moroccan officers speak English, and we have a Moroccan-born U.S. Soldier translating to French for the students, so it's not too much of an issue."

The students praised the enthusiasm of the instructors.

"Interested teachers make for interested students," said one Moroccan soldier. "This experience is of great benefit to our forces."

The HETS, although primarily designed to carry M-1A1 tanks, is valuable because of its versatility, according to Rose.

"We've used them to transport Humvees, shipping containers, and bulldozers," Rose said. "If it'll fit on the [trailer] bed, we'll haul it."

African Lion 2010 is a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)-sponsored exercise that includes various types of military training to include a command post exercise, intelligence capacity building, a field training exercise with live-fire, peace operations training, aviation training, medical exchange training, as well as humanitarian civic assistance progress.

The exercise is an annually scheduled, joint, combined U.S.-Moroccan event. It brings together more than 1,000 members of the Moroccan military and nearly 1,000 U.S. service members from 16 locations throughout Europe and North America.

It is the largest exercise within the U.S. Africa Command area of activity, and is designed to promote interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation's military tactics, techniques and procedures.