CFE-DM supports RIMPAC HADR exercise

CFE-DM Public Affairs
08.02.2022

Ford Island, Hawaii – Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, three submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) from June 29 to August 4. The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM) participated in the RIMPAC humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HADR) exercise which took place July 5-18 providing humanitarian assistance and disaster management training and exercise support. The objective of the disaster relief exercise is to improve interoperability between partner militaries and better understand cooperation with civilian organizations during times of disaster response.

CFE-DM led a team of subject matter experts from the USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, Pacific Disaster Center, International Federation of the Red Cross, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, and the Regional Humanitarian Coordination Center to provide four HADR academic seminars including an HADR Senior Leader Seminar, a Senior Staff Command Forum, HADR Symposium and an HADR Staff Planner’s Integration Course. During the HADR exercise, CFE-DM, USAID BHA, and PDC were responsible for writing and providing daily scenario injects/updates. The SME team did their best to set as realistic scenario as possible while meeting the exercise objectives of inclusivity, interoperability, and adaptability.

Speaking about the exercise, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Toshiyuki Hirata, vice commander of HADR Combined Task Force commented that while RIMPAC 2022 contained a wide spectrum of exercises, the HADR exercise was specifically timely because of the many natural disasters the region faces, stating that this was a great opportunity for partners in the civil-military space to come together.

“We improved our operational capability and enhanced the mutual understanding and strengthened cooperation with other country militaries and civilian organizations,” said Hirata. “Non-military organizations also joined us, so we have good coordination regarding conduct of operations. It is a very good opportunity for us to enhance our capabilities. We adapt it in real situations.”

The HADR exercise was designed to enhance interoperability between military partners during a multi-national disaster response, as opposed to the typical bi-lateral response. “This exercise creates a unique opportunity to experiment in a dynamic scenario environment with military-military collaboration models to see how RIMPAC nations could support foreign disaster relief and other operations as one team while keeping national authorities intact,” said Dr. Joyce Blanchard, a Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance advisor for CFE-DM. “That is the benefit of exercises, we can experiment with models that do not currently exist in the real world.”

This idea also supports the Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Samuel Paparo’s ideas concerning the importance of interoperability and interchangeability between partner nations he discussed during the HADR Senior Leader Seminar held by CFE-DM.

Blanchard and the CFE-DM team designed a Coaster Islands and Griffon Disaster Management Reference Handbook for the fictional RIMPAC countries to provide country reference and disaster management information for the exercise scenario. CFE-DM typically creates these disaster management reference handbooks to provide a baseline of information for disaster real countries around the globe. These handbooks offer readers an operational understanding of a nation's disaster management capability and vulnerability, with detailed information on demographics; hazards; government structure; regional and international assistance; infrastructure; laws and guidelines; risks and vulnerabilities; and other areas vital to a comprehensive disaster management knowledge base.

The handbooks help build situational awareness and an understanding of how responding militaries fit into a country’s disaster response framework, helping to improve efficiency and effectiveness of foreign military support to disasters. For militaries in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, foreign militaries routinely support foreign disaster relief efforts. This was reiterated by U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro during his visit to the RIMPAC HADR camp on July 17, further reinforcing the importance of interoperability and partnerships, especially during times of disaster relief.