Exercise Shared Resilience 13 wraps up in Macedonia
June 7, 2013
PEPELISHTE, Macedonia -- Shared Resilience 2013 wrapped up today with a closing ceremony here June 7.
Shared Resilience 2013 is a U.S. European Command directed, U.S. Army Europe led disaster response and crisis management exercise. It brought together civil affairs teams, medical professionals and civilian agencies from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia at two training locations, the Pepelishte Training Area and the Mushamci Training Area.
The exercise also included units from the U.S. Army's 80th Civil Affairs Battalion, the U.S. Army Reserve 353rd Civil Affairs Command from Ft. Wadsworth, N.Y. and the 320th Medical Company from Greensboro, N.C. Members of the U.S. Marine Personnel Retrieval and Processing Company also participated.
The participants trained and worked together as combined crisis and medical response teams to strengthen their cooperation and prepare them to respond to future missions. The focus of the exercise centered on interagency collaboration, integrating public private partnerships practices and how to conduct foreign humanitarian assistance.
"What's nice about this is this really tests the ability for nation's organizations, both civilian side and military side, to work together in a disaster," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cantor, the exercise co-director, assigned to the 353rd Civil Affairs Command.
The participants began the exercise with a series of classroom presentations by subject matter experts from the participating nations on the skills that would be necessary to respond to a humanitarian or disaster situation and how to integrate civilian agencies into the crisis situation.
"The experience that we got here is really good. I got the feeling that we would be able to work in a real situation because everything that we performed here we would be performing everyday," said Maj. Branko Dolenc, a veterinarian with the Slovenian Armed Forces. "All this will be very useful for us and I hope that we'll be able to come in the next exercise."
Following the classroom portion the participants engaged in a range of hands-on scenarios ranging from a humanitarian assistance mission in the wake of a disaster to rescue and recovery operations to retrieve disaster victims.
The medical units from all the Balkan nations present established two field hospitals to treat the simulated wounded from the other training events. They also worked closely with the U.S. Marine mortuary team who processed the simulated deceased from the training events.
Also on hand at the exercise were U.S. civil affairs crisis management teams that were there to advise, assist and coordinate the efforts of military, civilian and non-government organizations in response efforts to natural disasters.
"A crisis management team's primary goal is to assess and coordinate between the disaster stricken or humanitarian assistance area and coordinate with the civilian management center or the military personnel on the ground," said Sgt. Maj. Brian Rauschuber, the USAREUR Civil Affairs Noncommissioned Officer in Charge and the senior enlisted director of the exercise. "They are the eyes and ears on the ground."
During the exercise, the civil affairs crisis management teams conducted missions to assess the structural integrity of buildings and bridges in the wake of a simulated disaster, and focused on helping the disaster-stricken nation by bringing in the right resources and organizations to help them.
While the event focused on training and cooperation, it was also a chance to increase relations among former Yugoslavian nations.
"This region the Balkans, are a specific place on earth in terms of the sensitive past that we share," said Talat Xhaferi, the Macedonian Minister of Defense. "The countries in the Balkans have certain stereotypes of one another and these stereotypes were reinforced when the federation of Yugoslavia broke up. Such events are a unique opportunity to bring closer those countries that were in the past that were together"
He went on to say that events like this where militaries interact have an effect on the lives of the civilian populations as well not just in a crisis situation.
"Such practices of cooperation of the ministries of defense and the armies shall be replicated in other spheres of life in these countries," Xhaferi said. "It shall have a snowball effect to disseminate the practice of cooperation, and to look at our cooperation, not through the prism of the stereotypes of the past, but to look at our cooperation through the prism of the future and the more we are doing for our citizens, we are building a future for them."
As the ceremony drew to a close the participants left the training more prepared to respond to potential future disasters having shared techniques, standardized practices and established a means to get the job done.
"That's the most important part of this whole mission is that when everyone leave here that they still have the skill sets to operate in a crisis environment and do well," Cantor said.