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NEWS | Feb. 16, 2017

Partnership in Preparedness during Cobra Gold 17

By Petty Officer 1st Class Meranda Keller Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Senior leaders from seven nations filled seats around a conference table and screen that reads “Emergency Management Strategies for Senior Leaders,” at the Conrad Hotel, Bangkok during Cobra Gold (CG)17 on Feb. 15.

The first annual Medical Senior Leader Seminar is a three-day event with the goal of reviewing executive-level principles for emergency management disaster planning and enable key leaders to implement corrective action plans.

“Indo-Asia is a very diverse region. We have advanced countries, and still developing countries," said Rear Admiral Brian S. Pecha, command surgeon, U.S. Pacific Command. “This is an opportunity to get together to reestablish those relationships that we build up during the year and work on a specific project which is case study involving disaster. Learning about each other goes a long way during a disaster relief effort.”

Topics for the seminar include disaster response vs. complex disasters, response to real world events, earthquakes, tsunami/flooding along with real world response to bombing and terrorist attacks.

“Everything we’ve been doing during Cobra Gold plays into the humanitarian problem and the problem is amplified if there is no coordination said,” Lt. Col. (Dr.) Douglas Riley, 436th Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health flight commander. “Bringing in multinational players, the coordination process can begin, if that doesn’t happen there would be uncoordinated activities and that will simply lead to chaos.”

Different nations will brief their experiences as leaders during real humanitarian assistance and disaster relief situations and discuss on the ground challenges ranging from rank structures to supplies. The briefs and discussions are an opportunity to find ways to work toward preparedness and avoid uncoordinated disaster response.

“Our response in the United States on emergency management and disaster relief mitigation is no different than the response over here in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, said Riley. “I’m a firm believer in the three cups of coffee rule, meaning take the time to develop a true partnership/friendship giving you the opportunity to ask for their input on specific problems. That is where your fruit comes from; it doesn’t come from CG specifically but the engagements you have during CG.”

The seminar consists of lectures and presentations followed by table-top exercises. In the exercises, participants are broken into teams and given different scenarios to work through then ends in group discussions.

According to Riley, “the impact we have, saving lives especially young lives, it’s probably the most important thing we can do as a multinational functioning organization.”

Exercise Cobra Gold, in its 36th iteration, demonstrates the commitment of the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States to our long-standing alliance. CG17 also promotes regional partnerships with 29 nations working to advance security cooperation in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Cobra Gold 17 will conclude on Feb. 24.



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