News: US - Pakistani civil-military partnership prepares for future global emergencies
Story by Capt. Robert Burnham
CONCORD, N.H. - In June of 2010, overwhelming monsoons coupled with heavy mountainous river flow created the perfect storm for a horrific natural disaster which devastated the people of the Pakistan.
As the Indus River basin, which runs northeast to southwest through the heart of the county, overflowed with raging water, nearly one-third of the nation was left underwater.
According to Ahmed Kamal, spokesman for the National Disaster Management System of the Republic of Pakistan, more than 20.6 million Pakistanis were affect by the wide-spread flooding.
With more people affected than those of the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami, Pakistan’s 2005 earthquake, U.S. Hurricane Katrina, and 2010 Haiti earthquakes combined, the United Nations rate the 2010 Pakistani floods as the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent history.
From March 3 - 13, Kamal lead a delegation nine civil and military leaders who joined U.S. partners for a U.S. – Pakistani disaster preparedness conference conducted in Manchester, N.H.
The initiative to provide improved civil-military cooperation in planning for natural and man-made disasters was made possible though a collaboration between Pakistan, the U.S. Army’s Global Civil-Military Emergency Preparedness program, the University of New Hampshire’s Partners for Peace organization, the New Hampshire National Guard, and numerous state and local civil authorities throughout the region.
At a welcoming dinner held for conference participants, Adjutant General of the State of New Hampshire, Maj. Gen. William N. Reddel III , addressed the Pakistani delegation that traveled for more than 30 hours to share knowledge at the conference.
"I'd like to point to the national flag of Pakistan, with crescent and star, which together symbolize light and knowledge. We have talked about sharing knowledge and what we can do with it. It all comes down to what we are here to do, save lives," said Reddel.
Largely due to prior coordination and the prompt response of the Pakistani National Disaster Management System, thousands if not millions, of lives were saved in the wake of the 2010 flooding. Despite raging waters, deadly landslides and potential prevalence for human disease, the NDMS reported less than two thousand deaths attributed to the disaster.
Khair Muhammad Kalwar, director general of the Sindh province, Provincial Disaster Management Authority, noted education, training and access to technology as significant areas for improvement in Pakistan’s emergency management system.
As the Pakistani delegation, made up of national, provincial, and district emergency response coordinators shared their lessons learned, they were introduced to new technology such as the Geographic Information System, which provides open source terrain and weather data to users in real-time.
During a tour of the New Hampshire National Guard State Headquarters, in Concord, N.H. Reddel demonstrated to his Pakistani partners the ability to observe flood extent, and property damage using the digital system which the National Guard monitors closely with the New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Lt. Col. Michael Domingue, future plans officer for New Hampshire National Guard joint operations said, “We believe this data sharing is a first in the nation and will greatly enhance civilian and Guard response actions, ultimately helping our citizens and possibly saving lives.”
As the summit drew to a close, Maj. Oscar Friendly, preventive medicine science officer with the U.S. Army Directorate of Strategy, Plans, and Policy said, “This meeting has not been about us helping Pakistan. It has truly been collaboration, with what we think will be a regional leader in global emergency preparedness.”
This work, US - Pakistani civil-military partnership prepares for future global emergencies, by CPT Robert Burnham, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.