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U.S., Philippine Airmen Join Forces for Pacific Responder 17

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Christopher Quail 36th Wing

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ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam, Oct. 20, 2017 — Airmen with the 36th Contingency Response Group and the Philippine air force members participated in the first Pacific Responder exercise held here Sept. 23-29, 2017.

Members of the Philippine air force brief American airmen assigned to the 36th Contingency Response Group after a disaster response planning tabletop exercise during Pacific Responder 17 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.
Members of the Philippine air force brief American airmen assigned to the 36th Contingency Response Group after a disaster response planning tabletop exercise during Pacific Responder 17 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Sept. 29, 2017. The event was part of a subject matter expert exchange that focused on sharing ideas and techniques about humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Quail
Members of the Philippine air force brief American airmen assigned to the 36th Contingency Response Group after a disaster response planning tabletop exercise during Pacific Responder 17 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Tabletop Exercise
Members of the Philippine air force brief American airmen assigned to the 36th Contingency Response Group after a disaster response planning tabletop exercise during Pacific Responder 17 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Sept. 29, 2017. The event was part of a subject matter expert exchange that focused on sharing ideas and techniques about humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Quail

The weeklong exercise focused on leadership planning and disaster response execution. Subject matter experts in the fields of command and control, security forces, engineering assistance, structures and aircraft maintenance came together to exchange their experiences and expertise.

Improving Interoperability

“The main objectives are to improve U.S. and Philippine interoperability, gaining understanding of the humanitarian aid and disaster relief response procedures and to focus on leadership planning,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Carlo Narvasa, 36th CRG flight chief of operations.

Throughout the week, the subject matter experts exchanged knowledge and ideas through hands-on exercises and discussions on U.S. and Philippine air force expertise. Each squadron within the 36th CRG welcomed the Philippine air force representatives with demonstrations of their capabilities.

Airmen from the 36th Mobility Response Squadron set up displays of equipment ranging from forklifts to all-terrain vehicles for the first visit. Philippine airmen toured the 736th Security Forces Squadron on the second stop, including the operations cell, which is responsible for coordinating plans, training, movements and communications.

The 644th Combat Communications Squadron set up displays of equipment including radios and antennas. Lastly, the 554th RED HORSE [Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers] Squadron demonstrated their construction equipment and capabilities.

“Now I better understand the capabilities of the 36th CRG and their criteria for disaster response,” said Philippine air force Capt. Jean Bibon, 15th Strike Wing helicopter pilot. “After this exercise, I know that in times of a natural disaster, we will be able to come together and work more efficiently.”

Earthquake Scenario

The exercise concluded with a table top scenario that put participant’s skills into practice. The scenario simulated responding to a major earthquake that struck the Philippines with a 7.1 magnitude.

“At the end of the week, it was clear that strong relationships were built between the U.S. and Philippine participants,” said Air Force Capt. Rachelle Crespo, 36th CRG air advisor. “PAF utilized the knowledge provided by their U.S. Air Force counterparts during the final exercise and debrief.”

The 36th CRG intends to expand the framework of the Pacific Responder exercise, to include other partner nations and allies for four more exercises until 2021. Building strong partnerships and exchanging expertise benefits the U.S. and partner nations by enabling them to better respond together when the time arises.

“Pacific Responder 17 allowed us to increase our understanding of how the 36th CRG squadrons conduct HA/DR [humanitarian aid and disaster relief] here on Guam,” said Philippine air force Maj. Hazel C. Bracamonte, 602nd Aerodrome Operations Squadron commander. “The knowledge gained opens up the doors for improvement of current HA/DR procedures and work relationship among PAF and the U.S. Air Force.”