News: ASEAN exercise ends with renewed commitment to regional partners
Story by Lance Cpl. Kasey Peacock
MUARA, Brunei Darussalam — His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, Hassanal Bolkiah, met with senior military leaders from 18 Asi-Pacific nations participating in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief and Military Medicine Exercise (AHMX) during a luncheon June 20 in Muara, Brunei, to declare the official close of the exercise.
The multilateral exercise, which was held in various locations throughout Brunei, provided a platform for regional partner nations to address shared security challenges, strengthen defense cooperation, enhance interoperability and promote stability in the region.
“I feel that we accomplished the goals we set for ourselves going into the exercise,” said U.S. Marine Maj. Timothy I. Murray, a future operations planning officer with 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “When you bring 18 different countries together and throw in the language barrier, as well as cultural differences, it can make things complicated. Everyone worked through the challenges as a team to better prepare ourselves for disasters in the region.”
For some countries, this exercise was the first time they participated in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief with other countries.
“For this being our first time here, I feel we learned an incredible amount and benefited greatly from this exercise,” said Vietnam People’s Army Sr. Col. Do Mai Khanh, the lead medical officer for Vietnam. “Seeing all of the nations working together was the greatest benefit for me throughout the exercise.”
AHMX, which was conducted from June 17 to 20, focused on a post-tropical revolving storm (TRS) typhoon rescue, survey, recovery and disaster relief in the vicinity of the District of Temburong, as well as other locations in Bandar Seri Begawan, Muara Naval Base and Rimba Air Force Base.
For the host nation, the opportunity to host an exercise of such high importance is a great honor, according to Normasitirena Suhaini, the senior public relations officer with the Ministry of Defence, Brunei.
“We worked very hard and learned a lot from hosting this exercise,” said Suhaini. “If everything had gone according to plan and things worked out perfect, we wouldn’t have learned anything. While this was a great learning experience, we also built a solid foundation for more exercises like this to happen in the future."
Participants in the exercise included medical and engineer personnel from the ASEAN-comprised nations of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; and other Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the U.S.
With disasters imminent in the Pacific region, initial planning for the next HA/DR exercise will be conducted in Thailand starting in July.