DHAKA, Bangladesh – The U.S. Army, Pacific (USARPAC) and the Bangladesh Armed Forces Division began their third annual Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange Sept. 17, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The four-day event brings together more than 160 military and civilian subject matter experts and key responders in disaster management, relief and humanitarian assistance fields from both the U.S. and Bangladesh, including members of the USARPAC Contingency Command Post’s Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team.
The Contingency Command Post is a flexible, tailorable and rapidly deployable unit that specializes in disasters and humanitarian crises. The CCP’s Humanitarian Assistance Survey Teams provide boots-on-ground, real-time assessments interfacing with their military and civilian counterparts in foreign countries. These assessments provide valuable information on what critical needs must be addressed in order to save lives during disasters.
Bangladesh boasts a population about half that of the United States but is only about the size of Iowa by comparison. Bangladesh has been hit by and felt the effects of numerous earthquakes of varying severity and increasing frequency over the years. If an earthquake of severe magnitude were to hit the city of Dhaka’s concentrated population it could have devastating effects. The goal of the DREE is to improve interoperability and response planning in the event of a catastrophic earthquake.
The U.S. Army, Pacific Deputy Commander, Army National Guard, Maj. Gen. Joseph Chaves spoke at the opening ceremony emphasizing the importance of cooperation and interoperability between Bangladesh and the United States.
“Throughout all of this we will be building important and lasting relationships. These military and civilian friendships facilitate effective communication and understanding necessary to facilitate future operations.”
After the opening ceremony and presentations by various disaster management and earthquake experts, participants began a tabletop exercise which simulated an earthquake hitting near Dhaka, allowing civilians and service members to work together to come up with a coordinated response to effectively react to the scenario.
The U.S. Army, Pacific Contingency Command Post’s Engineer Plans officer, Maj. Kenneth Frey said, “The DREE is a great opportunity for the HAST and enables us to interact with foreign military and civilian officials.”
“[During the tabletop exercise] we identify where we can assist and provide that information back to USARPAC headquarters, which is ultimately what we would do in a real world deployment,” said Frey.
The DREE will culminate in a field training exercise simulating events occurring 120 hours after a catastrophic earthquake event including search and rescue operations and the massive influx of human casualties to local hospitals.