DHAKA, Bangladesh - The seventh annual Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange (PR DREE), co-hosted by the Bangladesh Armed Forced Division (AFD) and U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), drew to a close last week, Oct. 6, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Lt. Gen. Mahfuzur Rahman, Principal Staff Officer, AFD, officially closed the PR DREE 2016, followed by remarks from Maj. Gen. Bryan E. Suntheimer, Deputy Commanding General, National Guard, U.S. Army Pacific, and the Honorable Annisul Huq, Mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation.
"You worked hard as a team on the earthquake scenario," said Rahman. "In the future, we shall work as a team getting all government, non-government, and international stakeholders on the same platform to render services to the distressed humanity across the globe."
The seven-day event brought together more than 250 participants from China, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States, as well as dozens of governmental and non-governmental and international organizations. Personnel worked together either through a phased tabletop exercise (TTX) or a field training exercise (FTX), though U.S. personnel were limited to the TTX this year.
The PR DREE, which has been held annually since 2010, built on the accomplishments of previous years' exercises and introduced new partners, enhanced the knowledge and practices of the National Disaster Response Coordination Center, and strengthened partnerships and communication between multiple agencies and nations in the event of a catastrophic disaster in Bangladesh.
"For seven years the government of Bangladesh has led this exercise that has provided the United States and other nations and agencies the opportunity to exchange best practices with our Bangladeshi partners," said Suntheimer. "In the future we will continue to build on this exercise and others like it in the region, to build our capacity and maintain relationships that are critical to success."
The TTX familiarized participants with the earthquake scenario, their various roles and responsibilities, and the numerous themes of the exercise. Throughout the course of the week participants met in cell groups where they deliberated over medical emergency scenarios, which included search and rescue; identified logistical obstacles; discussed shelter/relief plans and procedures that are currently in place; and increased coordination between international and domestic organizations and agencies.
"One of the highlight of this year's DREE is that more important regional stakeholders were onboard, especially the city corporations," said Lt. Col. Md Jahangir Alam, one of the organizers of this year's exercise. "This is a great achievement in this DREE. We're happy that they're more willing to take on responsibilities."
After three days of exercises, participants gathered at the Army Golf Club in Dhaka and by video conference from Chittagong and Sylhet for an extensive After Action Report in advance of the closing ceremony. Participants tackled many concerns that were discovered and addressed in advance of next year's PR DREE.
"Bangladesh has built an exercise that should be emulated throughout the region," Suntheimer said. "The cooperation achieved between the Armed Forces Division, the United States Army Pacific, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, multiple other domestic and international partners such as the United Kingdom, Myanmar, India, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, China, and the United Nations is noteworthy."
PR DREE is a series of exercises throughout the Asia-Pacific region that enhance the U.S. government's readiness and preparedness to provide aid for all-hazards. Pacific Resilience supports U.S. Pacific Command's (USPACOM) civil-military integration and humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) capabilities.