Civilians and military personnel from the Republic of the Philippines, Papua-New Guinea, Australia and the U.S teamed up for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum Voluntary Demonstration of Response on Disaster Relief (ARF-VDR DR) from May 4-8.
This was the first field exercise for the forum, and it aimed to enhance cooperative relationships, test response processes for disaster relief and improve critical infrastructure. The location was chosen due to the large amount of residents who were displaced by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. Because of their location and distance from major cities, regular health care is not easily accessible.
The exercise included the setting up temporary medical facilities and building schoolrooms and bridges to allow disaster officials to practice damage assessment.
Along with the medical projects, the field exercise involved engineering projects like reconstructing buildings and building covered walkways for local elementary schools. There were also demonstrations of air, land and maritime capabilities.
The ARF-VDR is an activity designed to prepare international civilian humanitarian assistance and military teams to work together in the event of a natural disaster or other crises that impact the health and safety of the population. The four-day exercise enhances the ability of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum to develop tangible outcomes for disaster relief and transnational security cooperation.
As part of its overall strategy of partnership, readiness and presence, U.S. Pacific Command further supports regional and professional exchanges like ARF-VDR on DR that contribute to capacity building and collaboration.