This year, the observation of FAR’s anniversary is marked by the battle against COVID-19.
Founded in 1956, FAR is tasked with defending Morocco’s territorial integrity, strengthening national and international solidarity, and preserving peace.
Less than two months after the country’s independence on March 2, 1956, King Mohammed V was determined to provide the country with a modern army. The responsibility of managing FAR then went to heir Prince Hassan II, who assumed the throne as King in 1961.
FAR comprises five branches including the Land Force, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy, the Royal Moroccan Guard, and the Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie.
After the failed coup of 1972 by General Mohamed Oufkir, who occupied the position of the Minister of Defense, King Hassan II ordered the abolishment of this ministerial portfolio and became the army’s supreme commander and chief of staff.
Today, King Mohammed VI is the supreme commander of the army. The King has made several efforts over the past 20 years to further develop FAR, including to modernize equipment, strengthen capabilities, improve the living and working conditions of its personnel, and to promote its influence abroad.
These achievements are documented in a book titled “The Royal Armed Forces, the March of Fidelity and the Spirit of Renewal.”
FAR has long served international peace through its participation in several UN peacekeeping operations around the world.
Operations include a mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1996 to 2007, in which FAR deployed soldiers to join in the NATO-led international peacekeeping force, responsible for establishing security in Kosovo.
FAR also participated in the United Nations Security Council-led stabilization missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2001.
FAR against COVID-19
FAR’s major battle this year is against COVID-19.
The military body donated MAD 100 million ($10 million) to the Special Fund for the Management and Response to COVID-19 in mid-March, mere days after the fund’s inauguration. Senior officers also contributed one month’s salary.
King Mohammed VI mobilized military medicine on March 23 to collaborate with civilian medicine in the fight against COVID-19, and called upon civilians and military doctors to work “in harmony and intelligence” to contain the spread of COVID-19.
FAR rose to the occasion by launching two field hospitals in Nouaceur and Benslimane, in order to reinforce the country’s health infrastructure.
Supporting the country’s hardest-hit region
The first section, composed of tents, can host up to 260 patients. The second section is a fully-equipped building containing all necessary medical devices for COVID-19 response. The building has a capacity of 200 beds, along with 20 intensive care units for patients in critical condition.
Thirteen doctors are available at the hospital, including three intensive care doctors, two emergency doctors, and six general practitioners who received special training on how to treat COVID-19 patients. A clinical biologist and a pharmacist are also working at the hospital.
The paramedical staff includes 69 nurses, while the assisting staff includes 39 members, led by two senior military health officials.
Not far from Benslimane, the province of Nouaceur has also seen the construction of a temporary military field hospital. The facility has a capacity of 200 beds and is equipped with the necessary medical equipment to treat COVID-19 patients.
“A total of 180 beds in three buildings is reserved for less severe cases requiring appropriate medical supervision, while the intensive care unit dedicated to severe cases has a minimum capacity of 20 beds,” Colonel Moujahid Mountassir, the hospital’s chief medical officer, told Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
FAR deployed a medical team of 13 members to the Nouaceur site, including two anesthesiologist-resuscitators, two emergency doctors, six general practitioners, a biologist, and a pharmacist, alongside a paramedical staff composed of 73 people, including nurses and nursing assistants.
Casablanca-Settat is the hardest hit region by the virus, representing 27.53% of the country’s infections.
The 64th anniversary of FAR is an occasion for Moroccans to pay tribute to their military forces for their long service ensuring peace domestically and internationally, and especially for their significant contribution to the nationwide fight against COVID-19.