Friday, February 26, 2010

COE Hosts Global Pandemic Influenza Workshops

In the event of a global pandemic, militaries around the world would expect to be called upon by governments to support civilian first-responders. In order to maintain this type of readiness, The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) plans to conduct pandemic influenza workshops in 11 countries throughout the Asia Pacific region in conjunction with the US military's Pacific Command (USPACOM) and Africa Command (AFRICOM).

From Feb. 24 to 26, initial workshops were held bringing together representatives from Asian-Pacific and African militaries. Workshop delegates were focused on putting together a planning guide for militaries and civilian planners in response to a possible influenza pandemic.

The week-long event was part of a workshop series derived from an agreement between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Defense (DoD) designed to improve pandemic influenza (PI) response in the Asia-Pacific and African regions .

"This is the most senior multinational event in the USAID / DOD Pandemic Influenza series worldwide, with representatives from Africa, Asia, UN and US DOD," said Andy Bates, COE lead for the PI workshop series.

The primary focus was to facilitate the creation of guidelines by national governments themselves that can be tailored to their respective countries' needs. Civilian and military leaders from more than 23 Asia-Pacific and 16 African participants, representing government organizations, institutes, and their militaries , attended. Key players included the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), the UN World Food Program (WFP), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) the US Joint Task Force Homeland Defense, USAFRICOM and US NORTHCOM from the North American region.

The COE was established by the US Congress in 1994 to facilitate civil-military management in international disaster management and humanitarian assistance. It partners with a wide variety of national and international governmental, non-governmental and international organizations to provide relevant education, training, coordination and research. COE has coordinated and executed pandemic influenza workshops on behalf of USPACOM in the Asia Pacific since 2007.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cobra Gold, Lessons Learned on Disaster Relief

In a DOD Bloggers Roundtable on Feb. 2. Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, discussed the importance of military exercise Cobra Gold.

Cobra Gold is one of the best and most important exercises that we do as
part of
U.S. Pacific
...[it] highlights many of the activities that we do in the
Asia-Pacific region, a region that is extremely important to the United States,
obviously economically, but also from a standpoint of security, peace, and
stability on its effect on the U.S. "
Sponsored by PACOM and the Royal Thai Supreme Command, the three-week exercise started on Monday and includes a command post exercise, a series of medical and engineering civic action projects, and joint and combined field training. Much of the discussion during the DOD Bloggers Roundtable centered around Cobra Gold's history, new and future participants, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief efforts, force protection, and lessons learned.

Lt. Gen. Mixon added, "The exercise is important not only because it is one of the largest--if not the largest--multilateral exercises, but it also involves the first-ever deployment of the contingency command post...we envision this deployable command post to be involved in military operations...such as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacekeeping and peace enforcement types of operations."

Lt. Gen. Mixon identified a shortfall during humanitarian assistance/disaster relief efforts during the recent natural disasters that struck the Philippines, Indonesia, and American Samoa. "One of the shortfalls that I felt like we had on the Army side was a fairly capable land-based command post that could set up very rapidly, work with the host nation and NGOs and establish communications and control..."

He added, "Lessons learned from my headquarters: Regional cooperation is always we continue to do this training, we will only get better at the ability to respond rapidly and then to work together with all the other governmental agencies that would be involved in disaster relief."

The bloggers present during the DoD Bloggers Roundtable are as follows: Dale Kissinger,; Grim,; Jim Dolbow,; and Shaun Tandon, The full transcript can be found here.


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