USARPAC HAST meet with Tonga National Emergency Management Office
September 25, 2012
- This is the first time NEMO or any agencies that deal with natural disaster have done something like this with the U.S. Army.
- The HAST primary job is to conduct assessments of key infrastructure in order to assist the host nation government in getting relief supplies and other support into the country as quickly as possible.
TONGATAPU ISLAND, Kingdom of Tonga -- U.S. Army Pacific Soldiers are in Tonga this week taking part in "Coral Reef" a joint-multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise primarily designed to test the USARPAC Contingency Command Post's ability to react to a disaster. New Zealand and Australia are also taking part on a limited basis to share their experience in conducting humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations.
When disaster strikes in the Pacific, once an affected nation asks for help, from the United States, the USARPAC Contingency Command Post Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team would be the first Army Forces, and very likely the first U.S. military forces on the ground. The HAST primary job is to conduct assessments of key infrastructure in order to assist the host nation government in getting relief supplies and other support into the country as quickly as possible.
USARPAC HAST Soldiers along with an Australian counterpart met with key leaders from the Tongan National Emergency Management Office or NEMO at their office in the Capital to discuss details of the first ever disaster relief exercise held between the U.S. Army and Tonga.
The HAST team came in to the meeting planning to discuss the finer details of their plans to assist Tonga during the exercise scenario which was a typhoon strike to Tongatapu island where most of the people in Tonga live. They quickly realized that the first meeting was going to be about explaining to the Tongan Emergency experts just what the HAST can do for them.
"This is the first time NEMO or any agencies that deal with natural disaster have done something like this with the U.S. Army and obviously there's a lot that both sides need to work on, to include learning how each of us work", said Commander Ashley Fua Assistant Superintendent Tonga Police and a member of NEMO.
For example, NEMO personnel had no idea that the HAST could assist them with conducting assessments immediately after a disaster. They can get help, as they will be limited in capability because they live through the disaster.
"Our initial plan was to get more in depth with the planning perspective but I think we were able to achieve what was more important which was explain to them exactly what it is that we can do for them and more importantly, how it can affect them, so that they understand us as a viable asset that could be of value to them not only during the disaster but in the planning for those disasters", said Lt. Col. Gregory Brewer, HAST Medical Officer.
Tuesday the NEMO Team toured the USARPAC CCCP HAST and the larger CCP complex and received a more detailed brief on HAST capabilities. They seemed genuinely impressed with the layout and what the American's have to offer.
"I'm pretty sure that over the next few days we will have a much better understanding of each other's capabilities," said NEMO Director Leveni Aho.
"I think this is a good start."
The Coral Reef runs through Sept. 28.