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    Combined Task Force 501 unites nations for disaster rescue training

    Combined Task Force unites nations for disaster rescue training

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Amy Elker | An Indonesian Soldier hauls Spc. Eric Holloway, 224th Engineer Company, 1249th...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Amy Elker 

    115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    Kapolei, HI—Six Soldiers and four Airmen from the Oregon Army and Air National Guard traveled to Hawaii to help support and assist Soldiers from the Vietnam Army, the Bangladesh Air Force and the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense (FSCD) as they completed a Basic Rope Rescue Certification Training held July 15-19 at the Kalaeloa Urban Search and Rescue Training Area. The training was to help the participants be prepared to conduct search and rescue missions in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.

    The Oregon Guard Soldiers and Airmen are part of a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) team. As domestic and emergency response experts, they assisted the other nation’s as they went through the training which was dubbed “Combined Task Force 501.”

    The training included how to utilize mission essential equipment to conduct victim and casualty search, rescue and extraction rope rescue operations.

    The cooperative nature of the Oregon National Guard working with Vietnam and Bangladesh is part of the State Partnership Program (SPP). SPP connects a state’s National Guard with the armed forces, or equivalent, of a partner country to develop a mutually beneficial relationship. Bangladesh has been Oregon’s partner country since 2008 and Vietnam since 2012.

    The State Partnership Program was established by the National Guard to help enhance each country’s search and rescue operation capabilities and bridge the cultural gap between the partner nations through building interpersonal relationships.

    This is the second year the Hawaii National Guard has sponsored the Basic Rope Rescue Certification training, but the first year Oregon and their state partners were invited to attend. Other participants of the training included Hawaii's state partners: Soldiers from the Philippines and Indonesian armies.

    Cpt. Valentine Roberts, Hawaii Army National Guard, CERFP, Operations Officer, who coordinated the training event, explained the benefits of holding the training in Hawaii. "Because of Hawaii’s unique location within the Pacific, we’re kind of cut off and isolated from the rest of the Continental United Sates," he said, "and being a part of the Asia-Pacific region, understanding our partner nations' capabilities—of what they bring to the fight and what we bring to the response—enhances everybody’s response time or response capabilities to whatever natural or mamade disaster may arise. So linking everyone together, doing this type of joint training, really allows us, as responders, to better assist the public."

    Tech Sgt. Carson Mather, Medical Dental Group, Detachment 1 (CERFP), 142nd Fighter Wing, Oregon Air National Guard, said the multi-national training experience was very valuable.

    "I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with both Vietnam and Bangladesh in the past under State Partnership opportunities, but this one, particularly having the opportunity to work with the Indonesians, has been fantastic," he said. "Knowing that we’re all in it for the same thing—to save lives and take care of ourselves and others—it’s been great seeing the collaboration, so if it comes time to respond together, we’re all on the same page."

    Maj. Adam Lulay, U.S. Army bilateral affairs officer in Vietnam, was present in Vietnam for the initial signing of the SPP agreement in 2012. He also had the opportunity to travel to Bangladesh and help both countries design and build their rubble piles for rescue training. While he was not part of the training itself, he traveled to Hawaii to observe the training and visit with the participants.

    Addressing whether or not he felt the joint training has been successful, he said: "The proof's in the pudding. You see how far these countries have come in such a short amount of time and the integration we’ve seen with the U.S. Initially, these countries were doing things that probably weren't the safest. Now, we use similar training, similar instant command system structures, similar rope rescue training equipment. If we ever had to respond on a mission, either in their country or an international level, we could actually work side by side, shoulder to shoulder and do real world recovery and response."

    Sgt. Loren Waters, 442nd Engineer Utility Detachment, 1249th Engineer Battalion, Oregon Army National Guard, said he greatly enjoyed working with individuals from other countries, with varied cultures and backgrounds. "There’s a lot of different countries on earth, and we’ve got people from all kinds of different walks of life," he said. "The biggest take away from this is that we’re all pretty much the same. We have a lot of the same wants and needs, and we just want to be able to go back to our countries and be a help when the absolute worst happens."

    First Sgt. Jason Obersinner, Non-Commission Officer in Charge, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 821 Troop Command Battalion, Oregon Army National Guard, said the highlight of the trip for him was "the FTX where we picked team leaders, broke out into teams and were given an urban search and rescue mission, where our team had to rescue a mannequin or other team member at three different locations, and with our blended teams--with members from each represented country and state--we had to work together through language barriers—and the Hawaii sun—to rescue those who needed to be rescued."

    He also agreed that the training was valuable stating, "It’s always important to keep our SPP strong and healthy, and the only way you do that is when you are doing face to face training with your state partners. We know disaster is going to come, we just don’t know when; so being prepared—trained, ready and equipped to respond to such an event—is a Guardsman job."



    Date Taken: 08.01.2019
    Date Posted: 08.03.2019 01:02
    Story ID: 334369
    Location: KAPOLEI, HI, US 

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