DHAKA, Bangladesh-The eighth annual Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange (PR DREE), came to a successful close during a ceremony on Oct. 12 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The theme of the five-day exercise was civil-military integration and Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response in preparation for a massive earthquake. The event was co-sponsored by the Bangladesh Armed Forced Division (AFD), Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief and the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). United States Army Pacific (USARPAC) sent 15 Soldiers and Airmen from the USARPAC headquarters battalion, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command and the Oregon National Guard, which has a state partnership with Bangladesh.
Air Vice Marshal Mashiuzzaman Serniabat, AFD, officially closed the PR DREE 2017, led by remarks from Brig. Gen. Bryan E. Suntheimer, Deputy Commanding General, National Guard, U.S. Army Pacific, and Deputy Gen. Reaz Ahmed, Department of Disaster Management.
"I do believe over the last five days you have developed some a collective understanding among yourselves and built up networking for improved interactions, which will help effective coordination while working together for disaster management," said Serniabat.
The event brought together more than 1,400 participants from 13 nations, as well as dozens of government, non-government and international organizations. Personnel worked together either through a phased tabletop exercise (TTX) in Dhaka or a field training exercise (FTX) held in Mymensingh, while testing out earthquake preparation plans, response capabilities and command and control organizational design.
The PR DREE, which has been held annually since 2010, built on the accomplishments of previous years' exercises. These years of planning have enabled partners to test out doctrine and verify the validity of the National Disaster Response Coordination Center's plans for disaster response, while strengthening partnerships and communication between multiple agencies, nations and stakeholders.
Army Lt. Col. Demian San Miguel, Oregon National Guard, has attended the PR DREE in Bangladesh for the last three years and said, "Every year the exercise gets better and better. Instead of the pillars of individual excellence, there was excellent coordination across all agencies."
He went on to say that the increased interaction and immediate feedback to participants' questions made the event successful. The inclusion of college students, who study disaster management, brought an exciting, fresh perspective to the event.
"This was like the Grammy Awards of disaster response exercises," he said.
The TTX familiarized participants with an earthquake scenario, their various roles and responsibilities, and the numerous themes of the exercise. Throughout the course of the week, participants were assigned to expert matter cell groups where they deliberated over emergency response scenario injects. These multi-national, interagency teams developed search and rescue response procedures; coordinated logistic support; verified shelter/relief plans and procedures that are currently in place; and increased coordination between international and domestic organizations and agencies.
After three days working through strategic-level scenarios, TTX participants gathered at the Bangladesh Staff College in Dhaka to review a dramatic operational execution of the plans during an earthquake field training exercise by emergency responders.
This was followed by an after action review on the final day.
Pacific Resilience is USARPAC's main platform to engage, partner with and prepare our allies in the region in a "whole of government" approach using the military and civilians to plan and execute DREEs and other Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Response (HA/DR) events. It utilizes medical, engineering, HA/DR and other related activities to implement, corroborate, and exercise plans, equipment and personnel against a variety of emergency scenarios that continuously impact the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Pacific Resilience is based on sharing best practices and lessons learned across the HA/DR spectrum to enhance all parties' ability to respond to and recover from emergency situations. It is designed to grow and reinforce capacity through table-top exercises, command post exercises, and field training exercises that simulate reality, identify procedural gaps, and practice techniques required for efficient and collaborative response. It is anchored on HA/DR operations and the integration of all first responder communities. It practices how militaries support civilian authorities during disaster situations, the reception and dissemination of foreign humanitarian assistance and the communication synchronization required to successfully execute emergency management plans. It accomplishes this with full partnership between civilian and military institutions.
Suntheimer closed out his speech with a quote from Adm. Harry Harris, PACOM Commander, given earlier this year. "Partnerships play a critical role in meeting global challenges, from maintaining peace to providing humanitarian assistance after natural disasters. Bringing your talents, ideas and resources together magnifies our impact far beyond the immediate region. Multinational partnerships are force multipliers for good around the world."