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US and China focus on disaster management

December 10, 2012

By Russell Dodson

CHENGDU, China -- The People's Liberation Army and United States Army Pacific participated in a Disaster Management Exchange Nov. 26 -- Dec. 2. The 2012 DME was hosted by the PLA in: Beijing, Kunming, and Chengdu, China.

The DME is designed to maximize hands on 'side by side' interaction with the PLA on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations and sharing lessons learned.

The People's Liberation Army held a luncheon Nov. 26 hosted by Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Qi Jianguo at the Ministry of National Defense in Beijing.

The PLA and U.S. military have responsibility in the peace and stability in the region. We look forward to the Disaster Management Exchange this upcoming week and the spirit of cooperation, said Deputy Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Qi Jianguo.

'Deputy Chief of General Staff, Qi Jianguo shared several important suggestions on how we can grow our military engagement to include exchanges at the junior officer level,' said 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Stephen Lyons who led the U.S. delegation.

'This annual exchange is a tangible demonstration of military-to-military cooperation that not only benefits our two nations but the entire Asia-Pacific,' said Lyons.

In Kunming members from the U.S. Delegation were able to visit the 77208 Earthquake response team Nov. 28.

We observed an impressive survival and recovery readiness demonstration by the 77208 Earthquake Response Team. We were impressed by their dedication and teamwork, said Lyons.

The highlight of the DME was a PLA designed tabletop exercise held Nov. 29 -- 30, based on an international HA/DR earthquake scenario. The tabletop exercise was built on a fictitious regional disaster calling for both U.S. and Chinese military cooperation to provide assistance.

This tabletop exercise is a very important part our exchange. It is the first of its kind during our exchanges, said Chief of General Political Department Public Affairs, Maj. Gen. Tang Fen.

The TTX [tabletop exercise] in itself is a milestone; it's the first of its kind between USARPAC and the PLA. In my personal opinion we have achieved a turning point in our relationship, said Maj. Winston Marbella, USARPAC G9.

'It was an amazing opportunity to work with our PLA counterparts in a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Recovery exercise. We realize this is one of the areas we have common interest in and this is a great way for us to move forward in the future,' said Lt. Col. Carrie Barhost, Intelligence Officer, USARPAC Contingency Command Post (CCP).

'Overall the tabletop exercise was a great opportunity to share ideas particularly from the Chinese side with how they deal with disasters. Some of our techniques and mechanisms to support disasters were very similar and at the same time there were a lot of differences. It was a great experience and I hope to do it again,' said Maj. Jibraun Emerson, Sustainment Officer, USARPAC CCP.

'Our main intent was to be able to be able to operate a meaningful exchange and this has been accomplished,' said Col. William Hollingsworth Jr, USARPAC G9.

I would like to extend my congratulations on the success of the HA/DR exercise. We have set the foundation for future exercises, said Tang. I am very proud of this delegation and look forward to future exercises.

'The Disaster Management Exchange has been an exceptional opportunity for us to learn from each other and work as a team on our common interests of helping people in need,' said Lyons.

I have found this [DME] both professionally and personally rewarding and we are grateful for the hospitality that the PLA have offered us this week, said Lyons.

The DME promoted USARPAC's mil to mil relationship with the PLA and both sides stated they wanted to conduct more cooperation events together in order to maintain a continuous mil to mil relationship. In addition, I believe both sides recognized that we need to address non-traditional security threats together, i.e. Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR), said Lt. Col. Brady Crosier, China Desk Officer and China Foreign Area Officer, USARPAC G5 Security Cooperation and Policy.

The DME is an annual USARPAC Security Cooperation event with the People's Republic of China and the PLA. The DMEs with China began in 1998 with actual visits beginning in 2005.

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