Stephen McCann, emergency management program specialist with Japan Engineer District, provides input during an Integrated Protection Exercise at the Camp Zama Community Club, Japan, Aug. 24, 2022. The tabletop exercise, which included officials from about 20 organizations as well as Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members, ran through procedures on how to handle an earthquake disaster.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Stephen McCann, emergency management program specialist with Japan Engineer District, provides input during an Integrated Protection Exercise at the Camp Zama Community Club, Japan, Aug. 24, 2022. The tabletop exercise, which included officials from about 20 organizations as well as Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members, ran through procedures on how to handle an earthquake disaster. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL
More than 30 members of U.S. Army Garrison Japan’s Crisis Action Team conduct an Integrated Protection Exercise at the Camp Zama Community Club, Japan, Aug. 24, 2022. The tabletop exercise, which included officials from about 20 organizations as well as Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members, ran through procedures on how to handle an earthquake disaster.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – More than 30 members of U.S. Army Garrison Japan’s Crisis Action Team conduct an Integrated Protection Exercise at the Camp Zama Community Club, Japan, Aug. 24, 2022. The tabletop exercise, which included officials from about 20 organizations as well as Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members, ran through procedures on how to handle an earthquake disaster. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – More than 30 members of U.S. Army Garrison Japan’s Crisis Action Team conducted a tabletop exercise here Wednesday to run through procedures on how to handle an earthquake disaster.

“The goal is to ensure the staff that works in the Emergency Operations Center is prepared and ready to activate and respond to any event,” said Everet Sterling, emergency manager for USAG Japan.

The Integrated Protection Exercise included officials from about 20 organizations here as well as Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members. The exercise will lead to a functional exercise slated for March, when organizations will stand up nodes to simulate how they would support community members.

“Each one will be doing their mission that they do to protect the population during an emergency,” Sterling said of the future exercise.

In 2024, the garrison also plans to hold a full-scale exercise that will be externally evaluated and include community members as part of the scenario, he said.

The scenario — a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hits the Tokyo area and causes power outages, jams cellphone service and collapses buildings and bridges — was used since earthquakes are the biggest threat to the installation, Sterling said.

“I know we do that a lot,” he said of the scenario, “but if we can effectively operate and respond in the most dangerous condition, then anything that falls under it, we can take care of.”

Everet Sterling, emergency manager for U.S. Army Garrison Japan, conducts an Integrated Protection Exercise at the Camp Zama Community Club, Japan, Aug. 24, 2022. The tabletop exercise, which included officials from about 20 organizations as well as Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members, ran through procedures on how to handle an earthquake disaster.
Everet Sterling, emergency manager for U.S. Army Garrison Japan, conducts an Integrated Protection Exercise at the Camp Zama Community Club, Japan, Aug. 24, 2022. The tabletop exercise, which included officials from about 20 organizations as well as Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members, ran through procedures on how to handle an earthquake disaster. (Photo Credit: Sean Kimmons) VIEW ORIGINAL

At the start of the exercise, Shawn Shaffell, head of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, told participants that Camp Zama has been lucky to avoid a major disaster for years.

“However, our luck at some point and time will run out and we all need to be very well prepared to respond to disasters,” he said.

During the daylong exercise, team members discussed specific steps on activating the Emergency Operations Center, or EOC, and how to manage resources and communicate during response efforts.

Since the crisis team had several new faces, Shaffell also mentioned the training would help build up the garrison’s emergency management structure.

“There’s a lot of us who are new,” he said. “There’s a lot that we need to re-learn and re-implement as it relates to how we do business.”

In addition to this exercise, the garrison will continue to conduct monthly EOC meetings. It will also conduct Phase II of the Emergency Evacuation Program next month. During that drill, officials will practice how to transport some personnel to Yokota Air Base and simulate their evacuation to the United States.

Sterling said all these drills will help alleviate any concerns and confusion that community members may have once a disaster strikes.

“It is important, because it’s not if — but when — something will happen,” Sterling said. “A prepared community is a resilient community. If you’re prepared, you can bounce back very easily. You will have less disruption to the lives of our protected population.”

Related links:

U.S. Army Garrison Japan news

USAG Japan official website