KATHMANDU, Nepal -- A bi-lateral disaster response exercise focused on earthquake preparedness began in Kathmandu Sept. 20 as part of the enduring collaboration between the U.S. and Nepalese governments to prepare for natural disasters in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.

The Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange (DREE), a four day exercise between the Nepalese army, Nepal Ministry of Home Affairs, and U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) commenced with an opening ceremony that included remarks by the U.S. Ambassador to Nepal, the Chief of the Nepalese Army and an official from the United Nations.

Gen. Rajendra Chhetri, chief of army staff, Nepalese Army, gave heartfelt words in remembrance of the loss of life that came from the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake, but expressed excitement that the ongoing partnership between USARPAC and Nepal will help avoid a similar catastrophe in the future.

"I assure you that the sound information that you will acquire during this exercise will be useful to you and your home nation," said Chhetri.

Execution of the DREE not only prepares the country of Nepal but also sets a high standard of humanitarian aid and disaster relief preparedness for the region, he said.

Throughout the four-day disaster relief exercise, participants will engage in academics, table top exercises, field training exercises, and conclude the event with an after action review.

This year's exercise will focus on and evaluate Civil Military Coordination Mechanism: a mass casualty simulation: search and rescue exercise, and key disaster preparedness tasks and humanitarian aid practices. Although the exercise is primarily between USARPAC and the Nepalese Government, there are more than ten different countries and over 140 participants involved in the planning and facilitation of the DREE.

Showing much appreciation and thanks for USARPAC's ongoing participation and assistance, UN Resident Coordinator, Valerie Jullian said "Together with the U.S. Army Pacific, we both have a view to ensure that we do better, and we do more, in disaster response preparedness and mitigation."

The correlation of all the engagements assist in refining methods for planning and execution of humanitarian and disaster relief missions, as well as identifying specific challenges that might be experienced if Nepal experiences another earthquake or other natural disaster in the future.

"You (all participants) are building Nepal's ability to respond effectively and successfully. You are establishing the pathways that are going to lead to losses mitigated, economic costs reduced, and lives saved the next time the earth moves, or the land floods, or the land slides," said U.S. Ambassador to Nepal, Alaina B. Teplitz.

The DREE will continue with two more days of tabletop and field-exercises, and conclude with a closing ceremony.