PEPELISHTE, Macedonia – More than 250 service members took part in an opening day ceremony May 28 in Pepelishte, Macedonia.
The ceremony is the beginning of exercise Shared Resilience 13, which is designed to bring together medical professionals from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, and U.S. forces in order to enhance interagency coordination.
The focus of this year’s exercise will be conducting humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, crisis response, and consequence management operations in response to a natural disaster. More than 300 participants are expected to take part in medical classes, certification courses, a mass casualty response exercise, and an earthquake simulation.
“We are all professionals coming from different nations and different cultures in a unified action,” said Shared Resilience co-director, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cantor of the 353rd Civil Affairs Command. “We’re designed to respond to a major disaster and to help end the human suffering associated with that disaster.”
It’s important for each nation to take away as much information and training possible because lives are at stake when a natural disaster hits, Cantor added.
Without the support of the armies in the region and U.S. Army Europe this exercise wouldn’t have been realized, said Macedonian Joint Operation Command chief of staff Brig. Gen. Racaj Muhamed.
“This exercise will be greatly beneficial for all participants because it will help regional and international agencies respond in an efficient manner to a natural disaster,” Muhamed said. “This exercise will help the armies cooperate on a regional level and to leverage joint efforts toward diminishing the effects of a natural disaster.”
This is the first time a civil affairs command is directing the exercise and Cantor explained that his goal is to supersede the exercise expectations.
“It is my goal and vision that the skills learned during this exercise last for a millennia and that we all come together to help our fellow man when they need it most,” Cantor said. “We may speak different languages and live in different parts of the world, but for the next couple of weeks we’re brothers and sisters united for the common good.”