By David Ruderman, U.S. Army Africa Public AffairsDecember 1, 2010
VICENZA, Italy -- U.S. Army Africa's Command Surgeon office conducted a familiarization visit for two Moroccan military medical officers to Fort Detrick, Md., and several nearby sites Nov. 14-19.
Lt. Col. Mohamed El Haouri and Capt. Jalal Kasouati were able to visit the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick and a number of other facilities in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas, said Maj. Kristin Agresta, who led the tour for the two visiting officers.
"The Moroccan Army is trying to build up their CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives) response capabilities and expand them," said Agresta. "They are also interested in other models for this, as they follow the French model in most aspects of their government and military."
"It's a way of doing it, not the way," said U.S. Army Africa Command Surgeon, Col. Alfonso Alarcon. "It's a system they can model after, an example of an incident command center. It's in line with building their capacity to deal with disasters and incidents that include CBRNE."
"Morocco is currently developing a BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) lab," said Agresta. "There was also discussion of the diseases studied here and that the focus is on treatment and vaccine protocols. The security in use was impressive for them."
"We're responding to their needs and strategy to build their medical capacity and institutions at their request. It is part of a sustained engagement," Alarcon said.
The visitors toured a number of civilian sites as well as the Army research center.
"We showed them the capabilities of a small community hospital with Level 2-3 capabilities and what they are expected to do in an emergency," said Agresta. "This was their first real look at Incident Command Center terminology and breakdown. They were shown what came about after 9-11, but even more so after Hurricane Katrina, and the need for coordination and interoperability between the facilities throughout a city, county, state, country and with other rescue entities, such as police, rescue and others."
Both visitors were very favorably impressed, said Agresta.
"Despite all the issues that we had before the execution of this event, this one ended up being among the best events that we have executed," said Youssef Zinoun of the U.S. Embassy Morocco's Office of Security Cooperation, who accompanied El Haouri and Kasouati.
"The level of contact that U.S. Army Africa gave the Moroccan medical officers access to is second to none. I think this event will open new cooperation possibilities and future familiarization and traveling contact team events to ensure relations and contacts are kept current," he said.