HAWAII - PACOM

U.S., foreign military, civilian leaders rehearse disaster scenarios

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Story by Theanne Herrmann on 03/12/2019
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - More than 30 U.S., foreign military and civilian leaders participated in a Humanitarian Assistance Response Training course here March 5-8.

The HART course, which is hosted by the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance staff, prepares U.S. military commanders and other participants to respond more effectively during civilian-led humanitarian assistance and foreign disaster response missions.

The course also provides civilian agencies the opportunity to network with U.S. and foreign military leaders.

"This is a great course for agencies to have face-to-face interactions with U.S. and foreign military leaders to earn a minimum level of trust in order to collaborate effectively during a disaster," said Nidhirat Srisirirojanakorn, a guest speaker from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. "All agencies and the military who share the same area of operation must supplement and compliment existing operations during a disaster response."

In order to learn how to work within the same area of operation during the course participants use realistic scenarios and existing plans to develop a concept of operations for a joint task force response to a major disaster.

"Our practical exercises takes a group that has mixed knowledge and experience with Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations and we give them a condensed time to work a complicated problem," said Ryan McGovern, a disaster management analyst for the CFE-DM.

The participants use the Military Decision Making Process to collectively dissolve a problem.

"As they go through their scenario, they recognize the key facts and major concerns, and start prioritizing the areas where the militaries unique capabilities can support the overall disaster response," said McGovern.

A few of the major disasters the participants studied were the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, Nepal Earthquake 2015 and the Ebola Epidemic.

"I am here taking the course because under the right circumstances Canada plays a role in responding to disasters such as the Nepal Earthquake or a tsunami in Indonesia," said Canadian Army Lt. Col. Adam Barsby, a liaison for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command at Camp H. M. Smith. "The better we understand how the U.S. deploys their military the better we will know how we can contribute to future disasters."

As the liaison officer, Barsby expressed the importance of networking and how the HART course exceeded his expectations.

"I will be more successful if I expand my network," said Barbsy. "The great thing is that I've learned so much from the instructors, but also from the other students because of their different levels of experience and components. The contacts you make and understanding how the Department of Defense handles crisis situations is valuable. It's a building block not only for your job today; but it will help you throughout your military career."

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