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Procedures Tested, Safety Emphasized During Pacific Partnership Guam Training Exercise

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS160601-25
Release Date: 6/1/2016 1:59:00 PM

From USNS Mercy Public Affairs

NAVAL BASE GUAM (NNS) -- Personnel aboard hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) held a training exercise in Guam May 31 in support of Pacific Partnership 2016.

The exercise gave personnel an opportunity to test their procedures and equipment in a controlled environment before performing in a real-world mission. The exercise emulated a typical day during the mission, dispatching an engineering project team, a medical subject matter expert exchange and a community relations engagement. Exercise evaluators placed injects, or realistic scenarios that could arise in real-world events but were unknown by exercise participants, to further test reaction time and communication procedures.

"It's a chance for some of the [standard operating procedures], along with the command and control notes that are vital for the mission that we are going to do this summer, to be tested in a low-risk, benign environment that allows us to identify potential issues before we actually reach our country events in early June," said U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Andrew Rice, training officer for Pacific Partnership 2016 and head of the humanitarian assistance/disaster response line of effort.

"We have a limited amount of time in each country, approximately two weeks at each of the five stops, so if we are able to identify potential friction points with command and control, or with potential gaps with communications, we still have some time to fix them before we reach Timor Leste."

As with any evolution, training or real-world event, safety is a priority. The safety initiatives included a pre-drill inspection, safety time-outs called whenever an unsafe condition is observed, training time-outs when an action or non-action could impede the scenario or training and an actual casualty call-out in the case of real-world casualties during the drill.

"Overall, the first primary point is we do it in a safe manner," said Rice. "It doesn't do us any good to go through the testing of SOPs and the communications and the ship to shore movements if we have personnel that are injured or if we have equipment that is damaged in the process."

The exercise, along with the mission as a whole, is a chance to integrate personnel from partner nations and organizations.

"Pacific Partnership is a joint combined effort, meaning that all U.S. military services, as well as partner nations, are involved," said Rice. "We also have interagency, U.S. government and also non-governmental organizations involved, so it's very much a team effort."

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