Master Sgt. Muhammed Lazaar became the first Moroccan Armed Forces non-commissioned officer to attend the Swiss International NCO course, held from Oct. 4-15, 2021, in Gossau, Switzerland.
“We have a very good relationship, the U.S., and specifically U.S. Africa Command with the country of Morocco,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Richard Thresher, command senior enlisted leader, U.S. Africa Command. “We're very happy that Master Sgt. Lazaar was allowed to attend.”
Lazaar echoed Thresher’s sentiment on the strong ties between the U.S. and Moroccan militaries.
“[We] are now committed to a strategic partnership to deter threats and share common challenges,” Lazaar said.
Strengthening the partnership and addressing common challenges are key tenants in U.S. Africa Command’s African Enlisted Development Strategy, which enabled Lazaar’s participation in the course that focused on non-commissioned officer development and leadership training in a multinational environment.
“I would like to stress on the interoperability goal which enables international effort in dealing with today's instability and security challenges,” Lazaar said. “Also I would like to stress the friendship relations born from this interaction – enabling, enhancing and deepening bilateral and multilateral cooperation between nations.”
Swiss Armed Forces Sgt. Maj. Stephan Kobel, chief NCO of development at the Swiss schoolhouse, said diversity and cultural differences are advantages of having a multinational class and having a Moroccan Soldier illustrates the wide breadth of experience in the international field that the Swiss institution offers students.
The AEDS, developed by U.S. Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander, U.S. Africa Command, is designed to support African forces by helping develop and refine curriculum, and provide instructor training through military-to-military engagements.
The approach seeks to standardize existing African professional military education institutions that can train not only their own nation’s forces, but also those of neighboring countries with the goal of creating regional centers of excellence. The AEDS positions and prepares African militaries to better contain threats, eliminate violent extremist organizations, and protect their borders, while instilling confidence in the safety of their citizens through development of NCOs in Africa.
“This is not about U.S. solutions to African problems,” Thresher said. “This is helping our African partners find African solutions to African problems.”
Lazaar said he felt proud to be in the class, and also a heavy responsibility to do well and perform at a high level to accurately represent the Moroccan Armed Forces.
“This course will enable me to boost my professional leadership skills and my professional life,” Lazaar said. “With the box of tools I've got, ranging from communication skills, conflict management and stress management; all this will help me, and have a positive impact on my daily work with my fellow soldiers and young NCOs.”