Participants sing during the opening ceremony of the 2017 U.S. - China Disaster Management Exchange at Camp Rilea, Ore., Nov. 16 2017. The annual United States Army Pacific (USARPAC) Security Cooperation event with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is an opportunity to share lessons learned in order to increase capacity to respond to natural disasters in the Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Nathan H. Barbour) (Photo by U.S. Air Force photo by Nathan H. Barbour)
Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Rapp, a Coast Guard helicopter pilot from Sector Columbia River, discusses Coast Guard search and rescue capabilities with representatives from the People's Republic of China and the People's Liberation Army during the U.S./China Disaster Management Exchange held at Camp Rilea located in Warrenton, Ore., Nov. 16, 2017. The Disaster Management Exchange consists of an expert academic discussion, a table-top exchange and a practical field exchange discussing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Rea)
CAMP RILEA, Oregon -- The 13th annual U.S.-China Disaster Management Exchange Table Top Exchange (TTE) and Practical Field Exchange (PFE) portions commenced on Nov. 16 with an opening ceremony at Camp Rilea, Ore.
Hosted by U.S. Army Pacific, the DME allows hands-on and side-by-side interaction between United States Army and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operations and enables sharing of lessons learned.
The 2017 exchange focuses on a notional flooding scenario in which both armies will be requested to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to a third affected state as part of a Multinational Coordination Center (MNCC).
Maj. Gen. Susan A. Davidson, Commanding General, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, welcomed attendees and highlighted how the event builds understanding and trust between the two armies.
"Disaster Management Exchanges like this are invaluable because as they expand in depth with each iteration, they allow us to truly recognize the importance of collaboration in addressing non-traditional security threats such as natural disasters," Davidson said. "Our ability to increase our practical de-confliction, and gain a better understanding of each other's procedures in the event of a real-world disaster response, could be what makes all the difference to the affected state."
Throughout the exchange personnel simulate real-life scenarios in order to identify procedural gaps, and practice techniques required for efficient and collaborative response, such as search and rescue techniques and the construct of the MNCC.
"The PLA and U.S. military both have dignified histories of and glorious accomplishments. Although we are geographically far from each other, the respect for human life is beyond national boundaries and races," said Maj. Gen. Huang Taoyi, Deputy Commander ,75th Group Army, PLA Army. "We are ready to join our friends from the U.S. to actively implement the consensus reached by our two state leaders and make concerted efforts to make this year's DME more practical, more in-depth and improve the two militaries' abilities in disaster relief."
Starting in 2005, the DME has been held at locations in Hawaii, Washington, D.C., New York, Washington and multiple areas in China. The DME has also matured from basic visits and briefings into a substantive exchange that uses table top and practical field exchanges to focus and facilitate interaction and develop the capacity to de-conflict HA/DR operations between the U.S. Army and the PLA.
In addition to providing a learning opportunity for the U.S. and PLA Army participants, this year the DME includes military and government observers from Bangladesh, Canada, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore and the People's Republic of China.
U.S. participants include U.S. Army Pacific, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, the Oregon National Guard, the United States Military Academy (USMA), the 351st Civil Affairs Command, the 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), the 571st Sapper Company, the U.S Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern Division, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Portland District, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Pacific Disaster Center, an applied research center managed by the University of Hawaii.