News: Joint Service training helps ministry teams prepare for crisis in Japan
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Howard Reed
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan – In this exercise scenario, it’s a sunny, clear day on Okinawa and families are enjoying a day of fun filled activities and events when shots rang out in the direction of the crowd. Two disgruntled service members, who were pending discharge from the military for being overweight, shouted as they continued to fire shots into the crowd.
The scenario set the stage for more than 60 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who gathered during a table top crisis exercise, Feb. 8, at Camp Foster’s Chapel Annex. The important aspect of this training is that everyone’s solutions are considered to help alleviate the crisis regardless of their specific religious backgrounds or unit ministry team.
Navy Capt. Brenda B. Davila, command chaplain, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, explained that unit ministry teams are important first responders during any crisis.
“It’s important for us to validate our chaplain crisis response plan to ensure the plan works and we develop interoperability. This joint training includes other services on island so that we can find effective ways to support people who will ultimately be affected by any crisis. As you can observe this is a team effort,” explained Davila.
Upon receipt of the exercise scenario service members were randomly divided into two separate groups to discuss support roles during such a chaotic event. At the heart of the exercise was to provide religious support alongside other first responders. These would include security forces, military police, fire and rescue teams.
The objective of religious support teams during a crisis is to provide spiritual and moral care for service members and their families. Each team talked through various options with the end result of providing the best religious care and support to ensure mission success.
U.S. Army Chaplain Maj. Jeffrey C. Botsford, command chaplain for the Army on Okinawa, said this was the first time United Sates Army Japan, Okinawa has participated in a joint service ministry training.
“It provides us with a better understanding and appreciation regarding the capacity of our respective services to respond. More importantly, is allows us to work together as a team,” said Botsford.
In addition to the mass casualty scenario attendees brainstormed humanitarian and natural disaster relief and support. All of the discussions were carefully and meticulously annotated to provide a platform should such a real world crisis hit the area.
Davila explained that local Chaplains have agreed to come together for more joint ministry religious team training.
“We definitely support each service. We collaborate each month keeping everyone informed. We also plan to conduct quarterly and semi-annual training to bring together unit religious and ministry teams on Okinawa,” said Davila.