Ramstein Airmen take part in Aeroexpo 2010 in Morocco

MARRAKECH, Morocco -- Approximately 50 Airmen and four aircraft from bases in the U.S. and Europe are participating in the Aeroexpo Marrakech 2010 international air show in Morocco which began Wednesday and runs through Saturday. These Airmen, including people from Ramstein's own 86th Airlift Wing and 17th Air Force.

Static display aircraft at the event will include a C-130J Super Hercules from the 37th Airlift Squadron here, two F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 169th Fighter Wing, South Carolina Air National Guard; and a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 151st Air Refueling Wing, Utah Air National Guard.

The purpose of the Aeroexpo is to build on relationships and to bring major players in the aeronautics industry to showcase their aviation technology, according to Maj. Paula Kurtz, the Chief of Public Affairs for 17th Air Force. Visitors and nearly 40 delegations from around the world will be in attendance and are given the opportunity to create new trade and business partners, but most importantly, to build relationships, she said.

U.S. Africa Command is dedicated to building lasting relationships and the Aeroexpo is an opportunity for the U.S. military to meet foreign military counterparts, establish new relationships as well as build on existing ones, Major Kurtz explained.

"After we stood up in 2008, the command's focus during the first year was to build an organization dedicated to building partnerships. Morocco is a good example of this process. The U.S. actively partners with Morocco to pursue numerous regional activities and initiatives in accordance with our theater security cooperation objectives in North Africa," Major Kurtz said.

U.S. AFRICOM's air component command, 17th Air Force, Utah and South Carolina will have leadership in attendance.

Maj. Gen. Ronald Ladnier, Commander of 17th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Africa, and Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, the Adjutant General, Utah National Guard, are scheduled to be present during the trade show, along with Maj. Gen. Stanhope Spears, the Adjutant General for the S.C. National Guard.

"We have a great working relationship with Morocco and the Aeroexpo gives us a chance to work together once again to keep the relationship strong," General Ladnier said.

For the 169th ANG unit in South Carolina, gearing up for the event has taken time but it has been time well spent.

"It has taken us four months to get everything set up," said Master Sgt. Ken Pearsall, NCO in charge for the contingent. "There was a lot that went into the preparation but it's all worth it. Coming to Morocco gives us a chance to get out of our country, meet new people and make new friends."

Although this is the first time the 169th ANG unit has worked closely with Morocco, the Utah ANG unit has been a partner with them for years through the Guard's State Partnership program.

The Utah ANG has forged a partnership through the National Guard's State Partnership Program with Morocco for more than six years, supporting six different activities in 2009, to include medical, engineering, disaster preparedness, and medical exercises and activities, Major Kurtz explained.

Air demonstrations from the U.S. and Morocco are also scheduled during the Aeroexpo for more than 40,000 guests in attendance.