AGADIR, Morocco – The Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based 1st Area Medical Laboratory participated in Exercise African Lion in the Kingdom of Morocco June 7 – 18.
Deploying to African Lion for the first time, Soldiers from the one-of-a-kind Army command supported the annual joint, all domain U.S. Africa Command exercise.
Sgt. Hector J. Gama and Spc. Nikolas Bejar from 1st AML’s Alpha Team worked to reduce the health risks caused by COVID-19 and provided preventive medicine support.
Serving together with the 172nd Medical Attachment from the Fort Bragg, N.C.-based 44th Medical Brigade, Gama and Bejar also worked with the Moroccan and British forces in Agadir, Morocco, and traveled to Kenitra and Marrakesh, Morocco, during the exercise.
According to Bejar, a Miami native who has been in the Army for two years, African Lion gave him the opportunity to travel more than 2,000 miles through different Moroccan cities and to experience different cultures.
Gama said the exercise was a great opportunity to hone his life-saving skills.
“The highlight of the exercise was the ability to refine my capabilities as a preventive medicine specialist by providing real life support,” said Gama, a three-year U.S. Army veteran from Ontario, California.
More than 7,000 NATO and regional troops took part in the exercise designed to enhance interoperability and counter regional instability.
AFRICOM Commander Gen. Stephen J. Townsend said learning how to operate in a COVID-19 environment was a priority during the exercise.
“COVID-19 has not changed our focus on engaging with our Africa partners. Due to last year’s cancellation of African Lion, we had a head start in planning this year's exercise,” said Townsend. “We understand how important this training is to our forces and our partners and how to better operate in a degraded COVID environment.”
The 1st Area Medical Laboratory is part of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the Department of Defense’s only multifunctional all hazards headquarters.
With specialized units on 19 military installations in 16 states, 20th CBRNE Command commands 75 percent of the U.S. Army’s CBRN and Explosive Ordnance Disposal units and ensures freedom of action for Army and joint forces across the continuum of conflict from crisis to large scale combat operations.
In support of the 20th CBRNE Command’s mission, Soldiers from 1st AML deploy around the world to perform surveillance, laboratory testing and health hazard assessments of CBRN, environmental, occupational and endemic disease threats.