Monday, April 13, 2009

Center for Excellence Facilitates Disaster Relief Exercise in Mongolia

Gobi Wolf, a bilateral disaster response exercise designed to increase emergency response and management in Mongolia, concluded in Ulaanbaatar, the country’s capital April 10.
Exercise participants included the Alaskan National Guard, the U.S. Army War College, the Asia Foundation, the Institute for Strategic Studies, Mongolia Railroad and the Mongolia Department of Transportation.

The exercise was facilitated by the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE), and Mongolia’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). See COE’s news release and photos.

Gobi Wolf began March 2 and consisted of three phases, which tested every aspect of emergency response in Mongolia. Incident Command Training focused on senior and mid-level planning, phase two was a table top exercise, and phase three was a field exercise that required simulated emergency response to a train derailment.

While this exercise provided an invaluable opportunity to enhance partnership with Mongolia, it also provided a test of readiness to deal with a situation that is very realistic to the people of Mongolia.

The Mongolia Railroad is a mainstay to many parts of the region. Goods are transported throughout the country and to its neighbors, including fruits, vegetables, and mining exports. A train derailment would potentially cause a critical hit to the economy of the region and could also impact the ability of people to travel in and out of larger cities, depending on where the derailment occurs.

In addition to damaging the economy, a train derailment could affect the food supply in the area. This would require an immediate response from NEMA and other supporting agencies to mitigate the direct impact on individuals and their ability to survive.

COE is a direct reporting unit to U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) and promotes disaster preparedness and resiliency in the Asia-Pacific region. They do this primarily through training such as Gobi Wolf, education programs, consultations, and information sharing.

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