Medreach 11 Builds Capabilities, Cooperation

LILONGWE, Malawi, May 13, 2011 — Army Col. Mar­cus De Oliveira, the U.S. Army Africa chief of staff, closed the Medreach 11 med­ical human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance exer­cise here yes­ter­day prais­ing the par­tic­i­pat­ing U.S. and Malawi Defense Force troops who “accom­plished every exer­cise objec­tive and achieved far more than we asked of them.”

Medreach 11 in Lilongwe, Malawi
Army Col. Mar­cus De Oliveira, chief of staff for U.S. Army Africa, prais­es the part­ner­ships forged by U.S. mil­i­tary mem­bers and Malawi Defense Force troops who “accom­plished every exer­cise objec­tive and achieved far more than we asked of them” dur­ing Medreach 11 in Lilong­we, Malawi, May 12, 2011.
U.S. Army pho­to by Spc. Zachary Zimer­man
Click to enlarge

The exer­cise, which kicked off May 1 and wrapped up yes­ter­day, was the first Medreach for U.S. Army Africa and the first sur­gi­cal readi­ness exer­cise the Unit­ed States has con­duct­ed in Africa. 

De Oliveira ticked off a list of accom­plish­ments: class­room exchanges on com­bat life­sav­ing and trop­ic med­i­cine and oth­er med­ical tech­niques, out­reach mis­sions that pro­vid­ed med­ical and den­tal care to more than 3,000 Malaw­ian civil­ians, and use of new suture­less tech­niques that restored sight to almost 400 peo­ple suf­fer­ing from advanced cataracts, among them. Dur­ing the clos­ing cer­e­mo­ny at the Malawi Defense Force’s Kamuzu Bar­racks here, De Oliveira said the exer­cise could­n’t be done any­where else in Africa. 

It suc­ceed­ed in Malawi, he said, “because here we found a pro­fes­sion­al force that stood side by side with us in plan­ning, and, most impor­tant, in work­ing to help the cit­i­zens of Malawi.” 

But beyond these train­ing and health and sur­gi­cal ben­e­fits, De Oliveira said Medreach pro­vid­ed “one small, pos­i­tive piece of a much larg­er pro­gram.” “The real ben­e­fit of this exer­cise is the mutu­al respect and under­stand­ing gained by two pro­fes­sion­al mil­i­taries that worked side by side and built last­ing rela­tion­ships,” he said. “Those rela­tion­ships will far out­last the short-term ben­e­fits of this exer­cise. … This exer­cise is real­ly a small facet of a wider, strong last­ing part­ner­ship between our two countries.” 

Lisa Vick­ers, charge d’af­faires at the U.S. Embassy in Malawi, called Medreach 11 “a per­fect exam­ple of the coop­er­a­tion pos­si­ble between our two mil­i­taries and our two nations.” “Such coop­er­a­tion is crit­i­cal as we both work for a more peace­ful, sta­ble and pros­per­ous world,” she added. 

Lessons learned dur­ing Medreach 11 will help ensure that both the Malawi Defense Force and U.S. mil­i­tary are bet­ter pre­pared “for any mis­sion that may come their way,” Vick­ers said. 

This pre­pared­ness is crit­i­cal, she said, “whether that mis­sion be peace­keep­ing on the con­ti­nent of Africa, pro­vid­ing human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance to a neigh­bor­ing coun­try in their time of need, respond­ing to a nat­ur­al dis­as­ter here at home in Malawi, or yes, maybe even combat.” 

The U.S. gov­ern­ment has long been a proud part­ner with the Malaw­ian mil­i­tary in prepar­ing for all of these mis­sions, Vick­ers said. “And it is my hope,” she added, “that the train­ing gained in Medreach 2011 will be use­ful in any sit­u­a­tion in which the [Malawi Defense Force] might find itself engaged.” 

Brig. Gen. Paul Phiri, the Malawi Defense Force’s direc­tor of train­ing, said the ben­e­fits of Medreach 11 will assist his troops as they con­duct peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions and respond to dis­as­ters and crises in the region. 

“This joint exer­cise has increased the under­stand­ing of the two armed forces’ capac­i­ty and capa­bil­i­ty in such oper­a­tions,” he said. “I believe there is a lot more we can do togeth­er. … The impact of these exer­cis­es is far-reaching.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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