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NEWS | Feb. 23, 2018

Cobra Gold 18: Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercise

By Cpl. Breanna Weisenberger III Marine Expeditionary Force

CHACHOENGSAO, Thailand -- The Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercise (HADR-X) is a part of Cobra Gold 2018, an annual exercise conducted in the Kingdom of Thailand held from Feb. 13-23 with seven full participating nations.

Participants of the HADR-X included the Kingdom of Thailand, the U.S., China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Republic of Korea as well as numerous civil organizations.

This years’ HADR-X is only the beginning of a multi-national exercise made of several events. Each one of the events is designed to showcase each nation’s capabilities in disaster response and promote interoperability focusing on saving lives.

“This is a disaster prone area, it makes sense that we are all working together,” said U.S. Navy Commander Randy Panke, the deputy group surgeon for 3rd Marine Logistics Group. “We need to be prepared and know what everybody is going to bring to the table.”

Drills such as this one provide a venue for both U.S. and partner nations to increase partner capacity in planning and executing complex and realistic multinational force and combined task force operations, said Panke.

“The reason why I like working with other countries is because not only do you get to know your host nation but you get to know other forces in your area of responsibility,” said Panke. “We’re here in this part of the region so it’s important for us to build trust and foster good relationships.”

While the United States primarily provided an advisory role, each of the rescue and medical teams worked side by side.

“For the preparation to the actual exercise, I’m doing subject matter expert exchanges with other countries, and comparing how we do our treatment, our triage, and equipment we carry,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Annalita Chavez- Pratt, with 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade.

Chavez-Pratt’s role in the HADR-X is to support other countries in the development of the scenarios, the flow of the exercise and embedding other American advisors into rescue and medial teams.

“It’s a little challenging because of the language, but I think that medicine is pretty universal so we have a common understanding,” said Chavez- Pratt. “Anticipating more collaborative efforts to save lives, because that is our end state, is saving lives.”

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