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U.S., China Conduct Disaster Management Exchange

U.S. Army Pacific

BELLOWS, Hawaii, Nov. 25, 2013 – Soldiers from U.S. Army Pacific, the Hawaii Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency participated with members of China’s People's Liberation Army in a disaster management exchange, Nov. 12-14 at Marine Corps Training Area-Bellows here.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
High ranking United States and People’s Republic of China officials observe the Practical Field Exchange during the 9th annual Disaster Management Exchange, an opportunity for both nation’s militaries to demonstrate and discuss their different approaches in responding to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief situations. Photo by Angela Kershner

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The 2013 DME is a subject matter expert exchange focused on an international humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation.

The highlight of the DME was a practical field exchange that occurred Nov. 14. The participants also held expert academic discussions, based on an international humanitarian and disaster relief scenario calling for U.S. and Chinese military cooperation to provide assistance in a fictional third country.

"The expert academic discussions allowed USARPAC, the PLA and others to work through a common HA/DR scenario to share best practices, lessons-learned and strategy for support to a third nation," USARPAC geographer Jason Pummell said.

"We are headed in a positive direction for future collaboration, which will increase effectiveness and efficiency," Pummell added.

The U.S.-China exercise included “our first practical, hands-on field event on a mock-up rubble pile to practice saving lives in a collapsed building,” said Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of U.S. Army Pacific.

From such techniques “we learn from each other's experiences," the general added.

"I am very pleased with the momentum that is being gained in our U.S.-China military-to-military relations -- especially around the framework of disaster response," Brooks said.

"We want to show that we can work together and cooperate on something important to all of us here in the Pacific disaster management," said Army Col. John Lee, the strategy and plans officer for USARPAC’s security, cooperation and policy directorate.

"HA/DR exchange … symbolizes a new phase of cooperation between the two militaries … and it is of great significance in bolstering our pragmatic cooperation in nontraditional security areas, fostering our common aspirations and capabilities to cooperate together," said People’s Republic of China Minister of National Defense Foreign Affairs Office, Rear Adm. Li Ji.

"This event represents a key component to U.S.-China relations. The United States remains steadfastly committed to partnering with China and other Asia-Pacific nations for disaster preparedness, response and recovery because it essentially saves lives," said USARPAC Deputy Commanding General for the Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Gary M. Hara.

During the practical field exchange U.S. and PLA soldiers demonstrated their HA/DR techniques.

"After each practical field training event we stopped and discussed the procedures we used and why things were done a certain way. For every event, we [U.S. and China] picked up something," said Army Maj. Bill Flynn, Hawaii National Guard, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Emergency Response Force Package.

The DME is one of the key security cooperation events the United States conducts with the PLA each year. The DME has evolved from basic visits and briefings into an exchange that employs an academic exchange to focus and facilitate cooperation and interaction between the U.S. Army and the PLA.


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Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks

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U.S. Army Pacific

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