News: USARPAC, Nepalese army open 4-day disaster response exercise
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Mary Ferguson
KATHMANDU, Nepal - The Nepalese army and U.S. Army Pacific officially opened the Nepal Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange during a ceremony Sept. 9, in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Situated in a region historically active with natural disasters, Kathmandu’s 2 million residents face a very real risk. In the event of an earthquake, more than 100,000 people could be killed with many more injured, and more than 50 percent of the city’s infrastructure could be destroyed.
Recognizing the potential for this complex devastation, the four-day DREE is the first in Nepal to include a field training exercise designed to practically apply civil-military disaster preparedness and response initiatives when faced with a massive earthquake scenario.
It is the second humanitarian assistance/disaster relief engagement between USARPAC and the Nepalese army and will serve as a unified operational follow-up to the tabletop exercise co-hosted by the Nepalese Army and the III Marine Expeditionary Force in February.
“This event represents a key component to the U.S.-Nepalese relations,” said Maj. Gen. William Beard, the U.S. Army Reserve’s deputy commander. “The United States remains steadfast and committed in partnering with the Nepalese Army on disaster preparedness, response and recovery. By training together we improve the capabilities of our countries, while strengthening the partnership between our nations. These efforts will have lasting and scaling impacts.”
The event will feature more than 190 participants from the Nepalese army, USARPAC, III MEF, Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health and Population, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, U.S. Army Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, U.S. State Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, World Health Organization, World Food Programme, and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Following a day of subject matter expert talks, the two-day phased FTX will emphasize command and control, urban search & rescue techniques and practices, engineering response, and medical triage at multiple locations throughout the Kathmandu area.
“This is a big step forward,” Beard said, adding that the agenda is aggressive, but it is relevant and important, especially the FTX as it will out flesh on the skeleton of the plan, enabling all participants to see strengths and weaknesses.
The Nepalese army’s director general of military operations, Maj. Gen. Padam Bilash Karki, said that it is imperative for the international community to render all support and assistance, and this exercise is an opportunity for all stakeholders to enhance bi-lateral and multilateral natural disaster preparedness and response efforts.
“It is a unity of effort,” he said.
The DREE will conclude with a day of after action reviews to determine best practices and ways to move forward toward maximizing collaborative readiness and response.