DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Fifteen U.S. Soldiers and Airmen joined humanitarian and disaster relief experts in Dhaka and Mymensingh, Bangladesh, October 7, for a five-day workshop and conference to discuss ways to improve relief efforts and save lives should a large-magnitude earthquake affect Bangladesh.
The Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange (DREE), a U.S. Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) sponsored workshop and conference, led by the country's Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and Bangladesh Armed Forces, is structured to enhance disaster preparedness, improve emergency response capabilities and coordinate civilian-military assistance.
In her opening remarks, Col. Jenifer E. Pardy, Director of Staff, Joint Force Headquarters, Oregon Air National Guard, stressed the importance of sharing knowledge and creating strong networks across the region to improve responses to disasters.
"The more we practice and prepare as partner nations, the better prepared we are to assist each other when the next disaster strikes," she said.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Bangladesh, Mohammad Shah Kamal Chowdry, said that Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, but doesn't have any recent experience managing an effective response. He is eager to face the problem head on and sees the DREE as key to preparation.
"It provides practical learning for what we should do in real disaster time in a coordinating manner. It is also a platform of civil-military relationship. More importantly, this exercise will bring all relevant stakeholders together into one combined mechanism.," he said.
The Pacific Resilience DREE will feature presentations by military and government subject matter experts to highlight best practices, engage in collaborative dialogue, review plans and procedures and develop systems that will enhance readiness and improve governmental response during a natural disaster.
"As a whole, a DREE for this type of size offers us a great opportunity to learn the strengths and weaknesses of our system, which ultimately contribute in making our system more efficient to save more lives and property. Our comprehensive planning and combined efforts will save our society in the future," said Brig. Gen. Azazul Bar Chowdhury, Bangladesh Armed Forces Division.
Building off seven years of coordination, the 2017 DREE aims to evaluate a comprehensive framework for disaster response involving the government, non-government and foreign humanitarian organizations. The exercise will commence with a series of presentations by subject matter experts that will set the scene for a table top exercise based off an earthquake scenario in Mymensingh. This will be followed by a field training exercise to test earthquake response operational efforts, coordinate support from international organizations and test the effectiveness of the strategical support structure in Dhaka.
More than 1,000 participants from approximately 130 different government and non-government organizations from 13 countries are participating in the event, including members of USARPAC, 8th Theater Sustainment Command and the Oregon National Guard.
The DREE in Bangladesh is an annual event, launched in 2010, that is part of USARPAC's Pacific Resilience series of exercises. This series of security cooperation activities leads to effective emergency response and recovery procedures with partner nations across the region. The exercises support U.S. Pacific Command's civil-military integration and humanitarian/disaster response capabilities.