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NEWS | June 26, 2024

Papua New Guinea Defense Force, U.S. Army conduct bilateral Disaster Response and Exchange Exercise

Courtesy story, 9th Mission Support Command

Papua New Guinea Defense Force, collaborating with Papua New Guinea National Disaster Centre (NDC) and the United States Army, hosted a second annual Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange (DREE) at The Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby from June 18th through 21st, 2024.

The goal of the two countries was to develop shared understanding on disaster response, facilitate cooperation between the two nations, and provide relevant training in lecture-based and simulated tabletop exercise walk-throughs of real-world potential disaster scenarios over the course of four days. As part of opening comments, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Krieck of the United States Army’s 9th Mission Support Command spoke to the importance of the exercise, noting “Disasters are not often able to be prevented, but they are always able to be mitigated through proper planning, coordination, and understanding between those responding and those affected, whether human or natural [disasters].”

The training, facilitated by the Institute for Security Governance (ISG) included presenters and speakers from the United Nations, Papua New Guinea National Disaster Centre, the United States Agency for International Development, the United States’ Center for Excellence – Disaster Management, the United States’ state-level Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs, and the Australian Civil-Military Center.

Attending the training were over 22 participants, to include several from Papua New Guinea Defense Force, as well as from Papua New Guinea Fire Service, the National Disaster Centre - Youths, Dept. of Education, Dept. of Provincial and Local Government Affairs, Dept. of Mineral Policy and Geohazards, and Caritas – PNG. The attendees learned about, discussed, and applied knowledge gained on topics including humanitarian assistance, coordination with international and civil society organizations, “whole of community” approaches to disaster response, migrants in crisis, and disaster recovery, culminating in full-day simulated practice of skills responding to earthquakes, power outages, and humanitarian response at both the national and provincial level.

As part of the final day, U.S. Army Major Ryan McCauley, U.S. Embassy Office of Defense Cooperation, expressed support for Papua New Guinea on behalf of the United States in regard to the May 24th landslide in Mulitaka, Enga Province, and reflected upon the training as well as the importance of cooperation between the nations and agencies represented, noting that, “Through shared understanding, our agencies and the professionals who work in them are better-prepared to plan as well as respond to disasters. The real-world applications of this training are critical for every organization involved, and will help save lives and rebuild communities, through better preparation before, as well as deliberate action after, when disasters occur.”

​Concluding the ceremony, Papua New Guinea Defense Force Lieutenant Colonel Silas Auro, Staff Officer 1, Force Preparation, declared to the participants, “Disasters affect human beings, they affect our families. Whatever we’ve gained this week is of importance to us, to include gaining information, developing the situation, and knowing who to call.” Lieutenant Colonel Auro concluded, “We would like to get our friends from other parts of the Pacific to attend so we are in the same lines of thought on disaster. If we need to help, we need to help. If we need the help, we can count on them.”