News: Third Army welcomes Egyptian armed forces to discuss disaster response during information exchange symposium
FORT MEADE, Md. - In their continued effort to shape the future, Third Army/ARCENT partnered with leaders of the Egyptian armed forces for an information exchange symposium, June 2-9, at Fort Meade, Md., which focused on the role of civil military operations in the event of a disaster.
“This is a theater security cooperation event, and it was set up as a civil affair and psychological operations exchange to compare and contrast civil affairs and psychological operations between the two armies,” said Col. Bill Mason, U.S. ARCENT/Third Army chief military civil operations. “So we can learn the way both of us are conducting civil affairs operations and psychological operations and compare and contrast that with both of our systems.”
The nine-day symposium included briefings from a variety of subject matter experts in civil affairs and visits to USAID/Office Foreign Disaster Assistance, Federal Emergency Management Agency in D.C. and the U.S. Army Research Institute at Fort Belvoir, Va.
“We’ve tried to expose them to a variety of events, “said Mason. “They are very interested in the election process going on in their country. So we were able to bring in an expert from George Mason University and the Brookings Institute to talk about polling. We have tried to bring in subject matter experts to discuss things that are going on in their own country.”
The symposium was centered on briefings, but the idea was to make it less like a schoolhouse learning environment and more of an open forum of shared experiences between the two groups.
“It’s been a very open discussion,” said Lt. Col. Bert Robbins, an operations officer, Third Army/ ARCENT. “That was our intent. It’s been very clear from the beginning that it really wasn’t a class. There are presentations with the intent of generating discussions. We want to know how they do it. They want to know how we do it. They were very comfortable and willing to discuss questions even if it took 15-20 minutes longer. That was pretty impressive because so many people often don’t like to talk, but in this case they were very comfortable and definitely willing to talk.”
The five members of the Egyptian military, led by Egyptian Navy Commodore Alaa Eldin Mokhtar Abouzeid, Egypt’s deputy chief of civil affairs and psychological operations, said they were pleased with the information and discussion, but it’s the relationship between the two countries that is important.
“It’s not only the information, but it’s also the atmosphere that is going to help us back home,” Abouzeid said. “The atmosphere can be much more important than the topics. It’s that good relationship that is going to help each country share and become better and just try to help each other for a peaceful world at the end. You cannot have any bi-lateral training work unless you have a good relationship.”
Mason said the conference is a very good opportunity to shape the environment, to build a partnership and relationship with Egypt and communicate with each other on how we provide disaster response and humanitarian assistance.
“Events like this are so important to build partnerships, to build relationships. You never know when they may come to our aid, or we may go to their aid or we may work together in the region to help another country,” said Mason. “Relationships are so important. You can’t build good relationships over the telephone or on the internet. So it is important that we actually meet with the Egyptians somewhere, whether it is in their own country or in our country.”
Abouzeid expressed he hopes that this is the beginning of a relationship between the two nations.
“I’m honored and pleased to be here and hope that this is the beginning of the spectrum of training and information we will continue to share,” he said.
Date Posted:06.12.2012 16:12
Location:FORT MEADE, MD, US
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