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U.S. Service Members Team Up with Moroccan Medical Professionals to Provide Health Care in Guelmim Province
More than 30 U.S. Defense Department personnel worked with Moroccan health officials to provide medical and dental care to thousands of patients June, 2008 in the Guelmim Province of Morocco, as part of an exercise called African Lion. <br /> <br
TAGHJIJT, Morocco--Navy Captain Edward Kassab (left), dentist, and Seaman Cody Banks, hospital corpsman, extract a decayed tooth from a young Moroccan boy during a visit to the village of Taghjijt on June 17, 2008. Kassab and Banks were part of a team of 30 doctors, dentists and optometrists who worked with Moroccan medical professionals to provide care to thousands of patients in the Guelmim district of Morocco through an exercise called African Lion 2008.  (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sergeant Rocco DeFilippis)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 1 of 3: TAGHJIJT, Morocco--Navy Captain Edward Kassab (left), dentist, and Seaman Cody Banks, hospital corpsman, extract a decayed tooth from a young Moroccan boy during a visit to the village of Taghjijt on June 17, 2008. Kassab and Banks were part of a team of 30 doctors, dentists and optometrists who worked with Moroccan medical professionals to provide care to thousands of patients in the Guelmim district of Morocco through an exercise called African Lion 2008. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sergeant Rocco DeFilippis) Download full-resolution version
TAGHJIJT, Morocco--Royal Moroccan Army Lieutenant Mustapha Bazi (left) gives an eye exam to a local Moroccan man during a humanitarian civic action project in Taghjijt, Morocco June 17, 2008. A 60-member team of Moroccan and American military medical professionals provided free medical and dental care to more than 9,000 patients in six rural villages in the Guelmim Province of Morocco during a six-day exercise called African Lion 2008. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sergeant Rocco DeFilippis)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 2 of 3: TAGHJIJT, Morocco--Royal Moroccan Army Lieutenant Mustapha Bazi (left) gives an eye exam to a local Moroccan man during a humanitarian civic action project in Taghjijt, Morocco June 17, 2008. A 60-member team of Moroccan and American military medical professionals provided free medical and dental care to more than 9,000 patients in six rural villages in the Guelmim Province of Morocco during a six-day exercise called African Lion 2008. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sergeant Rocco DeFilippis) Download full-resolution version
TAGHJIJT, Morocco--Technical Sergeant Micah Myers (left), a medic with the Utah Air National Guard, helps a local Moroccan man test out his new prescription glasses during an exercise called African Lion which provided free medical and dental care to the residents of Taghjijt, Morocco June 17, 2008. American service members worked hand-in-hand with their Moroccan medical counterparts during the six-day project during which they examined 9,000 patient and distributed more than 4,000 pairs of prescription glass throughout the Guelmim Province of Morocco. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Rocco DeFilippis)
3 photos: U.S. AFRICOM Photo
Photo 3 of 3: TAGHJIJT, Morocco--Technical Sergeant Micah Myers (left), a medic with the Utah Air National Guard, helps a local Moroccan man test out his new prescription glasses during an exercise called African Lion which provided free medical and dental care to the residents of Taghjijt, Morocco June 17, 2008. American service members worked hand-in-hand with their Moroccan medical counterparts during the six-day project during which they examined 9,000 patient and distributed more than 4,000 pairs of prescription glass throughout the Guelmim Province of Morocco. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Rocco DeFilippis) Download full-resolution version
TAGHJIJT, Morocco--Navy Captain Edward Kassab (left), dentist, and Seaman Cody Banks, hospital corpsman, extract a decayed tooth from a young Moroccan boy during a visit to the village of Taghjijt on June 17, 2008. Kassab and Banks were part of a team of 30 doctors, dentists and optometrists who worked with Moroccan medical professionals to provide care to thousands of patients in the Guelmim district of Morocco through an exercise called African Lion 2008.  (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sergeant Rocco DeFilippis)
TAGHJIJT, Morocco--Royal Moroccan Army Lieutenant Mustapha Bazi (left) gives an eye exam to a local Moroccan man during a humanitarian civic action project in Taghjijt, Morocco June 17, 2008. A 60-member team of Moroccan and American military medical professionals provided free medical and dental care to more than 9,000 patients in six rural villages in the Guelmim Province of Morocco during a six-day exercise called African Lion 2008. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sergeant Rocco DeFilippis)
TAGHJIJT, Morocco--Technical Sergeant Micah Myers (left), a medic with the Utah Air National Guard, helps a local Moroccan man test out his new prescription glasses during an exercise called African Lion which provided free medical and dental care to the residents of Taghjijt, Morocco June 17, 2008. American service members worked hand-in-hand with their Moroccan medical counterparts during the six-day project during which they examined 9,000 patient and distributed more than 4,000 pairs of prescription glass throughout the Guelmim Province of Morocco. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sergeant Rocco DeFilippis)
More than 30 U.S. Defense Department personnel worked with Moroccan health officials to provide medical and dental care to thousands of patients June, 2008 in the Guelmim Province of Morocco, as part of an exercise called African Lion.

The U.S. team consisted mainly of members of the Utah Air National Guard, who worked with Moroccan medical professionals to examine more than 9,000 patients over a six-day period. Also present were U.S. Marine Corps communication specialists, Navy dentists, National Guard translators, Air Force reserve physicians and active duty optometrists. As part of the U.S. Defense Department's State Partnership Program, the state of Utah has been partnered with the Moroccan military since 2003.

"Utah and Morocco are partners in peace," said Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Paul Byrd, a member of the Utah Air National Guard. "We are the partnership state, and this (exercise) provides us an opportunity to provide good will and communicate our concern and care for the Moroccan people and also a desire to work closely with the Moroccan military to promote stability and security here."

The exercise African Lion Humanitarian Civic Action Team also participated in bi-lateral training with their Moroccan counterparts. The training allowed both nations to become familiar with one another's medical systems and provided the U.S. team with the opportunity to interface with the Moroccan Ministry of Health.

"This has been a shared learning experience for both forces," Byrd said.

In addition to medical and dental exams, optometry care made a large impact in the region, with more than 4,000 pairs of prescription glasses distributed.

"A lot of these people are artisans and depend on their eyesight for their livelihood," said Technical Sergeant Micah Myers, a medic with the Utah Air National Guard. "The environmental factors out here such as bright sun and dust can complicate things even worse. With the donated glasses we have, we can get close to what they need, and that make a big impact on their quality of life."

The participating U.S. service members described the exercise as an excellent opportunity to provide care for those in need and enhance their abilities to operate in joint and bi-lateral environments.

Bryd said the work accomplished in Morocco not only improved lives, but worked to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Morocco, as both countries share a long history of friendship and cooperation.

"Theater security cooperation involves operations the include weapons," Byrd said. "These medications and our time are the weapons we use to communicate to the Moroccans the good will and peaceful intentions of the U.S. as we work to continue our friendship and strengthen our bonds."
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