KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo - U.S. Armed Forces along with the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) held an opening ceremony Sept. 6 at the Command and Staff College in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, to signify the start of MEDFLAG 10, a joint medical exercise.

"Today and throughout the exercise, we gather together as military personnel and civilians working together in the spirit of friendship and cooperation," said Lt. Col. Todd Johnston, the MEDFLAG 10 U.S. forces task force commander. "It is inspiring to look back at where we have come from and look forward to where we are going."

The ceremony began with the arrival of distinguished guests, including Luzolo Bambi, Minister of Justice and Human Rights for the Democratic Republic of Congo; Charge d' Affaires Samuel Laeuchli; Maj. Gen. Marcelin Lukama, FARDC Chief of Defense Forces; and Col. Gilbert Kabanda, FARDC surgeon general.

The FARDC military police presented honors while the FARDC music battalion performed both countries' national anthems.

"It is my hope that our respective national organizations will learn something about each other as they work together over the coming weeks," said Luzolo. "In the end, it is about saving lives and minimizing human suffering in the event of a disaster."

Following the opening ceremony, U.S. medical personnel began classroom instruction with the FARDC on familiarization of malaria signs, symptoms, causes and treatments. Both armed forces will continue classroom instruction on various medical topics for the next four days.

After all classroom instruction is completed both forces will work side by side to provide humanitarian assistance to Congolese citizens.

MEDFLAG 10 will conclude Sept. 18.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16