By Sgt. First Class Raymond Drumsta, New York Army National GuardJune 9, 2013
SENTUL, Indonesia (June 9, 2013) -- Trust and teamwork are some of the key components of humanitarian aid, according to some United States Army and Indonesian military officers who took part in a Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange held at the International Peace and Security Center here, June 3-6.
The training event involved more than 125 experts in disaster management and relief, humanitarian assistance, urban search and rescue and other fields from the U.S. Army Pacific's Contingency Command Post, or CCP, the Tentara Nasional Indonesia, the U.S. Agency for International Development, Indonesian and U.S. disaster response agencies, along with some non-governmental agencies.
Pacific Resilience helps prepare U.S. forces to assist its partner nations during disasters in the entire Asia-Pacific area, according to Maj. Gen. Gary Hara, deputy commander, Hawaii Army National Guard, U.S. Army Pacific. Indonesia and other countries suffered earthquakes and tsunamis as recently as 2004 and 2009, and Pacific resilience participants were challenged by table-top, command-post and field-training exercises centered on those types of disasters.
Hara also stressed the importance of communications and interoperability, which the U.S. Department of Defense defines as the ability to operate in synergy in the execution of assigned tasks.
One of the first steps for participants was to compare standard-operating procedures, said Chief Warrant Officer Jeremy Drage, a CCP operations officer from Ewa Beach, Hawaii. Once the exercise began, participants had to react to mock-earthquake conditions, like a building collapse and damage to a dam, which could lead to flooding, he explained.
The exercise called for the CCP personnel and their Indonesian counterparts to conduct joint assessments of these situations, then go through the process of marshaling medical, engineer, logistical and search and rescue resources to deal with them, Drage said.
"I think that's where interoperability was the key," he said. "That way they see how we do assessments, and we see how they do assessments."
Participants also shared best practices, Drage said. However, personnel of both nations do many things the same way, he noted.
"They operate just like we do, quite honestly," he said. "There's not much difference."
Building trust and teamwork are the first steps, stressed Maj. Setiawan, the Indonesian military officer and pilot who was the incident commander for the exercise. Setaiwan recalled working as liaison officer with U.S. Forces, helping coordinate the delivery and handling of medical supplies following the deadly earthquake and tsunamis that affected Indonesia and other countries in 2004.
Once trust and teamwork are established, Setiawan said, a number of other positive things will follow. He also stressed the need to build good communications in order to react more quickly and effectively during an actual disaster.
They learned different techniques and processes to deliver and distribute humanitarian aid quickly, Setiawan said. Things went well overall, and he's looking forward to improving communications during next year's exercise, he added.
Drage is also eager to apply the lessons that were learned during the exercise. The Indonesians are a friendly, welcoming people, he added.
"This is a good building block for the way forward," he said. "I'm looking forward to next year. This is my third time in Indonesia, and I love it."