More than 100 participants from the military and government of Chile, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and U.S. Army including members of U.S. Army South gathered in Santiago, Chile, to conduct a Civil-Military Relations Professional Development Exchange seminar.
The professional development exchange seminar was conducted Aug. 16-21 in order to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures on humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, gain understanding of and improve the capability of Chile to plan, command and control, integrate, synchronize, and coordinate humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations.
Lt. Col. Larry Roberts, Chief of Space and Special Technical Operations, Army South, believes the professional development exchanges such as this have a positive impact on the relationship between the U.S. Army and Chilean army.
"By conducting the exchange, it opens the door between the United States and Chilean military and civilian organizations to focus on support to civil defense for emergencies and catastrophic events," said Roberts.
Army South's mission is to conduct operations that build theater security cooperation between U.S. and partner nations like Chile through an exchange of information.
In past years, Chile and U.S. Army South have had several military and civil expert exchanges in logistics, justice, health, aviation, intelligence, engineers, science and technology and more, participating in exercises and activities related to training and education.
Col. Jose Urrutia, Chilean partner nation liaison officer with Army South, knows the positive impact cross training and the exchange of information between Chile and U.S. military has on the region's security.
"When you see the big picture about the relations and exchanges between both armies you see a relation of friendship, mutual interest, confidence, evolution and growth of all of them based on security cooperation," stressed Urrutia. "Because of that, we can say that it's a relationship that produces a win-win value for both."
During the Santiago seminar, participants from both countries shared and discussed their capabilities on civil-military operations and integration and synchronization with interorganizational partners to improve interoperability in joint, interagency, and civil government environments.
Some of the topics discussed during the Professional Development Exchange were Chile Armed Forces responsibilities and capabilities during a disaster, protection of public health during a disaster, Red Cross operations, earthquake preparedness, response to natural disasters in Texas, Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear capability to respond to mass-scale disasters, and space technology capabilities that can support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
As an expert in space technology capabilities, Roberts explained to the seminar participants how space technology capabilities can support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
"Army South Space Operations has received approval from U.S. Southern Command to create a site for Civil-Military Relations Professional Development Exchanges on the All Partner Access Network to support all partner nations participating to conduct continuous collaboration to further strengthen what was developed and shared at each conference," said Roberts.
Attendees also had an opportunity to participate in a practical exercise on collaboration of effective response efforts in an event of a volcano, earthquake and infectious disease outbreak which opened up to engaging dialogue between the attendees, briefers and staff.
As one of the participants in the seminar, Urrutia believes attendees from Chile benefited from the information they received and feels it will help them support their country in disaster relief operations.
"Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief nowadays is a great interest in the Chilean army since we had huge earthquakes, big fires, vast zones flooded, and volcano eruptions just in the last two years. During the conference, the topic of disaster relief and how both U.S. and Chilean armies get involved and assist in affected areas sparked a very enthusiastic and lengthy interaction among the participants, from which both parties gained a lot of knowledge," said Urrutia.
According to Roberts, the seminar was very successful and the Chilean army is looking to expand the aperture of the exchange next year and invite additional nations in the region as well as inter-governmental organizations within the country that did not attend the conference this year.