U.S.-China DME participants hold virtual Expert Academic Exchange

By Maj Oliver SchusterNovember 20, 2020

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FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii – Senior leaders with U.S. Army Pacific, the People’s Liberation Army and representatives from various disaster management agencies held a virtual expert academic exchange, Nov. 10-12, during the annual U.S.–China Disaster Management Exchange or DME.

Members from the 8th Theater Sustainment Command managed the virtual event, which featured three days of briefings on topics including lessons learned running a Multi-National Coordination Center during natural disaster response and examples of military support to civilian authorities.

The Director of Emergency Management City and County of Honolulu, Hirokkazu Toiya, provided a detailed briefing on the flow of assistance and requests that occur in a disaster.

“We have mutual aid agreements with other counties, private sector, and non-government organizations for things that can be handled locally,” said Toiya. “All other requests come through the state’s emergency operations center.”

Adam Gramann, from the Pacific Disaster Center, provided insight on how the meteorological support/disaster AWARE system is used to deliver a reliable and powerful early warning and monitoring platform.

“Our primary goal is to foster resilience using science and technology to provide executives and disaster managers the tools they need to make informed decisions to reduce risk, prepare and respond to disasters,” said Gramann. “AWARE provides estimates on basic water needs, nutrition requirements, shelter requirements, and human waste and refuse disposal.”

Yearly topics on multinational response to a natural disaster range from hurricane response to earthquake disaster relief.  These detailed discussions cover the importance of an agreed-upon structure for a more effective response, such as the Multi-National Coordination Center and special considerations including cultural and religious beliefs, and the importance of the impacted nation to maintain its sovereignty while accepting assistance.

Representatives from Indo-Pacific Command, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management, provided real world and academic knowledge within their area of expertise.

The exchange concluded with closing remarks from participating USARPAC and PLA senior leaders.

“I am glad to see our exchange continues to be fruitful,” said PLA Eastern Theater Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Lin Xiang Yang. “Through our candid discussions we have accumulated precious experiences on how our two armies can conduct disaster response operations.”

“I am honored to close another successful disaster management exchange,” said USARPAC Commanding General, Gen. Paul LaCamera. “This week, we have learned more about flooding, typhoons, and pandemic response efforts within coordinated multinational structures.

We both agree that protecting lives is our most important mission, and we are all ready to respond when the time comes.”

The DME is an annual USARPAC event with the PLA that began in 2005. This long-established exchange underscores the commitment of both the U.S. and the PRC to address humanitarian aid and disaster relief challenges across the region.