HONOLULU, Nov. 24, 2017 —
The 13th annual U.S.-China Disaster Management Exchange and Practical Field Exchange portions commenced with an opening ceremony at Camp Rilea, Ore., Nov. 16.
Hosted by U.S. Army Pacific, the exchange allows hands-on and side-by-side interaction between the U.S. Army and the People's Liberation Army on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and enables sharing of lessons learned.
The 2017 exchange focuses on a flooding scenario in which both armies will be requested to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to a third affected state as part of a Multinational Coordination Center.
Army Maj. Gen. Susan A. Davidson, commanding general of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, welcomed attendees and highlighted how the event builds understanding and trust between the two armies.
"Disaster management exchanges like this are invaluable because as they expand in depth with each iteration. They allow us to truly recognize the importance of collaboration in addressing nontraditional security threats such as natural disasters," Davidson said. "Our ability to increase our practical deconfliction, and gain a better understanding of each other's procedures in the event of a real-world disaster response could be what makes all the difference to the affected state."
Throughout the exchange personnel simulate real-life scenarios to identify procedural gaps and practice techniques required for efficient and collaborative response, such as search and rescue techniques and the construct of the MNCC.
‘The Respect for Human Life is Beyond National Boundaries, Races’
"The PLA and U.S. military both have dignified histories of and glorious accomplishments. Although we are geographically far from each other, the respect for human life is beyond national boundaries and races," said Maj. Gen. Huang Taoyi, deputy commander of the PLA’s75th Group Army. "We are ready to join our friends from the U.S. to actively implement the consensus reached by our two state leaders and make concerted efforts to make this year's DME more practical, more in-depth and improve the two militaries' abilities in disaster relief."
Starting in 2005, the exchange has been held at locations in Hawaii, Washington, D.C., New York, Washington state and multiple areas in China. The exchange has also matured from basic visits and briefings into a substantive exchange that uses table top and practical field exchanges to focus and facilitate interaction and develop the capacity to deconflict HA/DR operations between the U.S. Army and the PLA.
In addition to providing a learning opportunity for the U.S. and PLA participants, this year the exchange includes military and government observers from Bangladesh, Canada, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore and China.
U.S. participants include U.S. Army Pacific, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, the Oregon National Guard, the U.S. Military Academy, the 351st Civil Affairs Command, the 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, the 571st Sapper Company, the U.S Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern Division, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Portland District, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Pacific Disaster Center, an applied research center managed by the University of Hawaii.