The Royal Armed Forces (FAR) and the U.S. Army concluded this week a major disaster planning exercise, coupled with a four-week training program on blast risk management, the U.S. Embassy in Rabat said Thursday, underscoring the “continued strength” of the military partnership linking Morocco and the United States. This week, members of the Utah National Guard are in Ksar Sghir to participate in Exercise Maroc Mantlet, Morocco’s first disaster planning and preparedness exercise, alongside FAR partners and Moroccan civilian agencies, the U.S. diplomatic representation said in a statement. This year’s exercise, for which the FAR led the planning, features a scenario based on a large-scale industrial disaster, requiring search and rescue operations on land and at sea, industrial firefighting in a HAZMAT (hazardous materials) environment, and national crisis management, according to the same source. “These joint training programs are an essential component of the close strategic partnership between Morocco and the United States,” said U.S. Army Major General Michael J. Turley, Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard, who visited Morocco this week to observe the conclusion of the exercises. “We always work closely with our Moroccan partners to address a range of possible threats, including natural disasters or industrial accidents, as well as traditional security issues,” the senior military official added, as quoted in the statement.? Maroc Mantlet, noted the U.S. Embassy, includes international observers from Djibouti, France, Jordan, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Tunisia. This Friday, General Turley will join other senior Moroccan and U.S. military officials in Kenitra to mark the end of an intensive training program for Moroccan soldiers, Utah National Guard personnel and U.S. Marines on explosives-related hazards, such as mine disposal or ammunition storage and transportation. More than 20 military personnel participated in the program, officially known as Humanitarian Mine Action and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (HMA-EOD) training. The U.S. Department of Defense’s HMA-EOD training helps military partners develop the ability to identify and neutralize mines and similar hazards that threaten civilian populations, while helping to improve physical security and stockpile management of conventional munitions. The Utah National Guard, which mobilized six of its personnel for HMA – EOD training, has had a long-standing relationship with FAR since 2003 through the Utah National Guard’s State Partnership Program, the statement recalled. Next week, U.S. and Moroccan military officials will mark the completion of a six-year program focused on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats, recognizing the status of the FAR CBRN Response Company as “full-mission capable.” Morocco participates in more than 100 military engagements with U.S. forces each year. It hosts the African Lion – the largest annual military exercise on the continent – and is a major partner in U.S. international military education and training programs and foreign military sales, the U.S. Embassy said. In October 2020, the United States and Morocco signed a ten-year “Roadmap for Defense Cooperation,” which guides cooperation in priority areas, including efforts to address regional threats more effectively together.
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