JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Soldiers from the U.S. Army Pacific Contingency Command Post learned the roles they and U.S. government civilians play when responding to an international disaster during a two-day course at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Jan. 10-11.

CCP Soldiers, along with counterparts from the Navy and Air Force, attended the Joint Humanitarian Operations Course, which is conducted by the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance Military Liaison Team.

The quarterly course is open to servicemembers from all branches who are assigned to units that would provide support during a disaster. Its primary goal is to help better synchronize U.S. government civilian relief agencies and the military during a natural disaster response.

It's not a matter of if, but when the next disaster will occur in the Pacific says the Lead Humanitarian Assistance Advisor to Pacific Command, Mrs. Renee' Van Slate, "We need to understand what DoD personnel do and what their authorities are and DoD personnel need to understand how we work so we can work better together in our response."

"If work to understand each other before a disaster we will work much better together during a disaster response," she added.

The course, which instructors say compresses about a week's worth of training into just a few days covered a number of key areas military personnel need to understand. Training included discussion on: internationally accepted humanitarian principles, The Humanitarian Cluster System [U.N.] and how international relief agencies and NGO's work, U.S. Government Humanitarian Assistance to include the structure and relationships between U.S. government aid agencies, when it's appropriate to use military assets and what kind of military assets can be used during a disaster response.

Course instructors were very clear that DoD assets should only be used for specific "unique" tasks, things that no one else can provide.

The class also contained several practical exercises designed to put servicemembers in the shoes of OFDA personnel.

"As our mission focus has shifted to the Pacific it naturally needs to also shift towards Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief as the Pacific has more natural disasters than anywhere else in the world," said Lt. Col. Michael Brophy an aviation officer assigned to the Fort Shafter based CCP.

"A course like this is invaluable in helping us to better work with lead federal agencies and other services for that matter, when planning for and responding to a disaster," Brophy added.

The CCP requires all of its personnel to take JHOC and its "sister" course Humanitarian Assistance Response Training, which focuses primarily on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) response to disasters and humanitarian crisis.

Twenty members of the U.S. Army Pacific Contingency Command Post (CCP) attended the class, held 7-8 Jan. and again 10-11 Jan.

The CCP consists of more than ninety personnel with the specific skills to provide a USARPAC forward command post capability, specifically focusing on small scale contingencies such as supporting humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and peace operations. The CCP can tailor personnel and equipment to fit the mission with a team as small as seven, to as many as more than one hundred twenty servicemembers with augmenting forces