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By Lt. Andrew Williamson
Twenty U.S. Navy Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 and 15 U.S. Marine Corps engineers from 8th Engineer Support Battalion (ESB) completed an Engineer Civic Action Project (ENCAP) alongside their Moroccan counterparts in support of Exercise African Lion 22 (AL22) in Taliouine, Morocco, Aug. 16, 2022.
The project, which began during combined engineering activities with 10 Royal Moroccan Army engineers, involved building a new education facility, adding infrastructure to an existing education facility, and connecting the two via an enclosed passageway. Moroccan and United States military and civilian leadership marked the completion of the project at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Taliouine.
“The best part about this project is knowing that we contributed to improve the academic conditions of Moroccan children in Taliouine,” said Steelworker Second Class Tiawanda Bennett, construction project supervisor. “This was a concrete way to build up our friendships between the Moroccan engineers and U.S. military engineers, while investing in future generations.”
Small-scale Humanitarian Civic Action (HCA) projects, such as this ENCAP, are great opportunities for U.S. Navy Seabees and U.S. Marine Corps engineers to assist the local community’s needs and fit within the detail’s main construction efforts of supporting new infrastructure for partner nations.
“These types of projects not only help the school increase student capacity but also help the community by allowing them to offer an updated educational facility for the majority of Taliounie’s children,” said Lt. j.g. Roger LaFlamme, officer in charge. “This, along with other improvements, will allow for the attendance of 60 more students from the region.”
This project also marked the first time U.S. Navy Seabees, U.S. Marines, and Royal Moroccan Army engineers worked side by side to construct Moroccan infrastructure facilities during exercise African Lion.
“It was also an opportunity for my Sailors to learn their trade and implement advanced techniques on how to build in unique regions and circumstances,” said Builder Chief Robert Bergeron, assistant officer in charge. “Watching my team come together to accomplish a goal and create something so important was incredibly rewarding.”
AL22 integrates relevant partners and allies with mutual defense and security interest connecting vital lines of communication in North Africa, the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans. The success and size of AL22 is a reflection of the commitment these partners and allies have to security in Africa.
NMCB 133 is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet, to defend U.S., allied, and partner interests.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.