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NEWS | Oct. 22, 2015

Oregon's Adjutant General Visits New School, Emergency Shelter in Vietnam

By Christopher L. Ingersoll, Oregon Military Department Public Affairs

QUANG NAM PROVINCE, Vietnam -- Oregon National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael E. Stencel, Adjutant General, Oregon, participated as the senior U.S. representative during a ribbon cutting ceremony, October 21, for the grand opening of an intermediate school in Phu Tinh Village in the Quang Nam Province of Vietnam. The school was built in cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam and has a secondary-use as a shelter during natural disasters.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Pacific Command, and the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam collaborated efforts to help make the new school project possible. The school's dual-use function as an emergency shelter has special significance to the Oregon National Guard as a State Partner with Vietnam's National Committee for Disaster, Incident Response, and Search and Rescue (VINASARCOM) through U.S. Pacific Command and Vietnam Bilateral Defense Dialog. As state partners, the Oregon National Guard works closely with VINASARCOM to mutually bolster disaster response capabilities in Vietnam.

Since 2009, the U.S. Government, through the Overseas Humanitarian Disaster Assistance and Civic Action Program, has spent more than $16 million in constructing schools, clinics, and bridges in many towns and villages throughout Vietnam. In the same period, the U.S. Agency for International Development has provided more than $8 million for disaster risk reduction activities. This year, the United States has committed to spend $5 million to continue humanitarian assistance projects like this school in Vietnam.

The relationship between VINASARCOM and the Oregon National Guard as state partners and the lead military agencies for emergency management in their respective country and state was established in September 2011 with a memorandum of understanding to advance bilateral defense cooperation through U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) and Vietnam Bilateral Defense Dialogue (BDD). The relationship recognizes that building and maintaining capabilities as emergency managers in times of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) is for the benefit of all countries and promotes stability, prosperity and domestic resiliency in the entire region.

The Oregon National Guard and VINASARCOM seek to bolster their emergency management capabilities by cooperating in HADR activities. These activities include continuing to co-chair the USPACOM-BDD Disaster Management Working Group; enhancing command and control capacity at national and provincial Disaster Management Coordination Centers; as well as conducting Search and Rescue (SAR) and HADR exchanges, training and exercises in order to operate together and promote mutual understanding and confidence for urban SAR and SAR joint command and control. They also aim to exchange systems and best practices to enhance disaster response capabilities; explore areas for cooperation to improve response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) threats with focus in detection, identification and response capabilities; conduct a bi-lateral tabletop exercise in 2016 that will set the conditions for a HADR field exercise in 2017; and strive to conduct future 'SPP Dialogues' annually to identify further cooperation opportunities to strengthen their partnership. 

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations between Vietnam and The United States.




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