News: Multinational maritime disaster response roundtable discussion held during Balikatan
Story by Staff Sgt. Amber Robinson
CAMP EMILIO AGUINALDO, Philippines – Armed Forces of the Philippines and U.S. military leaders, Philippine government officials and embassy representatives from various countries gathered April 15 at Tejeros Hall on Camp Emilio Aguinaldo for a multinational maritime disaster response roundtable discussion.
The roundtable was part of Balikatan 2013, an annual bilateral training exercise which fosters interoperability between Philippine and U.S. military forces across a wide range of military actions. The event featured representatives from 11 countries including the Philippines, U.S., Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Kingdom of Thailand, Malaysia and Republic of Korea.
The purpose of the meeting was to review current disaster relief protocols, present case studies of past disasters, broach challenges from past HA/DR operations and develop ways to overcome those challenges in the future. The primary objective was to develop the capability to coordinate a multinational response to any crisis that affects the Asia-Pacific region.
“In the face of a crisis, it will not work for any one organization or agency to dominate the solution on how to deal with that crisis,” said U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Richard L. Simcock, II, Deputy Commander for U.S. Marine Forces, Pacific and commanding officer for the American forces during BK13. “A one-view solution will not be lasting; we need multilateral views to get a long-lasting solution. That’s why this event is so important; it gives everyone a chance to weigh in on what would be best when we need to react to a disaster.”
As a model of a well-coordinated multinational response to disaster, Japan presented their case study on Operation Tomodachi.
"The earthquake, tsunami and then subsequent nuclear disaster we experienced in the spring of 2011 was one of the worst disasters in Japanese and world history," said Col. Yuki Matsuzaki, embassy representative from Japan. "We would not have been able to rehabilitate as a country without the fast response efforts of our military partners in the Pacific. Discussions such as these help us to maintain that very important partnership."
The day-long event also featured presentations from several other countries to include the Philippines, U.S., Australia and Indonesia . Each embassy representative presented case studies of past disasters and outlined the response for each.
“Through these case studies, we hope to refine our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief procedures,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Cathal O’Connor, who took the U.S. lead during the roundtable discussion. “We hope to identify resource shortfalls and review reporting procedures so we can react more efficiently in the future.”
Although Balikatan is currently a bilateral exercise, key leaders hope more countries will be involved in the future to hone multilateral relationships for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
“We are already planning for the next activity, Balikatan 2014, which will involve other countries,” said AFP Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., lead planner for the BK13 roundtable discussion.
“This event is a great opportunity that sets us up for more successful subsequent Balikatans,” said Simcock. “I think everyone is aware of how this event will help shape the future.”
This work, Multinational maritime disaster response roundtable discussion held during Balikatan, by SSG Amber Robinson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.