BELLOWS, Hawaii - Soldiers from United States Army Pacific, Hawaii Army National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers along with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency participated with the People's Liberation Army in a Disaster Management Exchange, Nov. 12 -14 at Marine Corps Training Area-Bellows.
The 2013 DME is a subject matter expert exchange focused on an international Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operation.
The highlight of the DME was a Practical Field Exchange Nov. 14. There was also Expert Academic Discussions, based on an international humanitarian and disaster relief scenario calling for U.S. and Chinese military cooperation to provide assistance in a fictional third country.
"The Expert Academic Discussions allowed USARPAC, PLA and others to work through a common HA/DR scenario to share best practices, lessons-learned and strategy for support to a third nation," said USARPAC Geographer Jason Pummell. "We are headed in a positive direction for future collaboration, which will increase effectiveness and efficiency."
New this year was the PFE resulting from comments from the previous DME.
One of the after action reports from the 'U.S.- China DME 2012' was to add a field portion with side-by-side training which we did this year, said Lt. Col. Carrie Barhorst, Intel OIC, TJFLCC Coordination Center.
"This particular event, here in Hawaii and hosted by U.S. Army Pacific, includes our first practical, hands-on field event on a mock-up rubble pile to practice saving lives in a collapsed building. These techniques we learn from each other's experiences," said U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General, Gen. Vincent Brooks.
"We want to show that we can work together and cooperate on something important to all of us here in the Pacific...disaster management." said Col. John Lee, Strategy and Plans officer for USARPAC Security, Cooperation and Policy directorate.
"HA/DR exchange...symbolizes a new phase of cooperation between the two militaries...and it is of great significance in bolstering our pragmatic cooperation in non-traditional security areas, fostering our common aspirations and capabilities to cooperate together," said Minister of National Defense Foreign Affairs Office, RADM Li Ji.
"This event represents a key component to US-China relations. The United States remains steadfastly committed to partnering with China and other Asia-Pacific nations for disaster preparedness, response and recovery because it essentially saves lives," said USARPAC Deputy Commanding General for Army National Guard, Maj. Gen. Gary M. Hara.
During the PFE both U.S. and PLA soldiers demonstrated their HA/DR techniques.
"After each practical field training event we stopped and discussed the procedures we used and why things were done a certain way. For every event we [U.S. and China] picked up something," said Maj. Bill Flynn, Hawaii National Guard, CBRNE Emergency Response Force Package.
"I am very pleased with the momentum that is being gained in our U.S. - China military to military relations, especially around the framework of Disaster Response," said Brooks.
The DME is one of the key security cooperation events the United States conducts with the PLA each year; the DME has matured from basic visits and briefings and developed into an exchange that uses an academic exchange to focus and facilitate cooperation and interaction among both the U.S. Army and PLA.