By Angela E. KershnerSeptember 26, 2012
DHAKA, Bangladesh -- U.S. Army Pacific and the Bangladesh Armed Forces Division held the third annual Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange 2012 last week in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Part of the larger Pacific Resilience initiative throughout the Pacific, the DREE aims to increase disaster preparedness and response through civil-military cooperation in those nations most affected by natural disasters in the Pacific region.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Geographer Justin Pummell develops, leads, plans and executes Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Management projects and exercises such as the DREE throughout Asia which enhance readiness and response to all hazards in accordance with international and national emergency response and preparedness standards.
"He is worth his weight in gold," said Col. William Hollingsworth, Jr., Civil Affairs, U.S. Army Reserves, U.S. Army Pacific. "The value of a USACE-trained geographer in the G-9 has proven to be invaluable."
Pummell supports the Corps' Pacific Ocean Division and Institute for Water Resources with its international capacity development program, working directly with the USARPAC, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Embassies and partner nations.
The IWR was formed to provide forward-looking analysis and research in developing planning methodologies to aid the Civil Works program. IWR is a field operating activity under the supervision of the Director for Civil Works, USACE.
"The Corps is involved in Pacific Resilience because of our experience, capability, and capacity," said Pummell. "We can reach back to subject matter experts of all types and use their knowledge and skill sets to support joint emergency management practices. Given our domestic experience in support of the National Response Framework, our real-world practice with debris management, engineering, and other disaster lifecycle tasks is desirable and critical."
Each year, the Corps sends hundreds of people to respond to disasters throughout the United States and overseas. Assessing and restoring critical infrastructure, providing critical commodities such as temporary emergency power, and supporting immediate emergency response priorities are the three top priorities of the Corps mission in disaster response.
"Sharing these experiences, as well as tailoring them to security cooperation, disaster management and water resources, makes USACE an ideal fit in supporting USARPAC and USPACOM with international capacity development," said Pummell.
During this year's DREE in Bangladesh, more than 180 personnel representing more than 70 organizations participated in a two-day table top exercise, analyzing and planning how to deal with various scenarios that may occur in the wake of a major disaster. Over 1,250 personnel then participated in a city-wide field training exercise, reacting to real-world scenarios ranging from search and rescue to evacuation of casualties to local hospitals.