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NEWS | Aug. 20, 2012

State Partnership between Alaska, Mongolia strengthened through commonalities

By Army National Guard Sgt. Edward Eagerton 134th Public Affairs Detachment

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia - Army Brig. Gen. Michael Bridges, the assistant adjutant general for Army, Alaska Army National Guard, met with Dumaa Namsrai, deputy chief of the Mongolia National Emergency Management Agency, to discuss emergency preparedness and future training partnerships between their two organizations at the NEMA office, Aug. 13, here during Khaan Quest 12.

During the meeting, Bridges explained the importance of organizations like NEMA in Mongolia, and the Alaska National Guard back home, when responding to natural disasters – especially earthquakes.

"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," Bridges said, referring to a 1964 9.2 magnitude earthquake in Alaska, one of the most powerful to ever hit North America and the second most powerful ever recorded by a seismograph.

When dealing with natural disasters, Bridges said not only should civilian and military first responders be prepared, but citizens too.

In Alaska, education of the public about natural disaster risks and the steps the public could take to prepare for such emergencies was critical in minimizing the loss of life in the event of a natural disaster, and during Operation Be Prepared, the public sector of Alaska was educated through radio, print and television materials.

"The community needs to know on a regular basis," Bridges said, adding the importance of combating an environment of complacency by continuing to train and keeping information on preparedness current.

With the help of a translator, Namsrai said NEMA's main duties, much like the Alaska National Guard's, were to protect the civilians of Mongolia. He commented also on the important endeavor of being partnered with Alaska through the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program.

Namsrai expressed his wish to continue to work with foreign organizations and the National Guard, acknowledging the importance of sharing procedures and technology with one another.