Experts from the U.S. Navy, several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and Vietnamese Disaster Relief professionals gathered to discuss Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) at a symposium during a Pacific Partnership (2018) mission stop at Khanh Hoa University May 23.
The symposium’s topics included disaster response and incident management systems, communication factors, interoperability between NGOs and governmental organizations, and the dangers of flooding and landslides.
There are, on average, two massive disasters per year that require HA/DR response in the Indo Pacific. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, HA/DR operations have attracted the attention of the global community as a non-traditional security issue. Building capabilities, interoperability and a conceptual framework for participation in these operations has become paramount to the affected countries.
“The ability to save lives and mitigate the effects of natural disasters requires the synchronization of local, regional and national governments,” said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, Commander Task Force 73. “Many times during crisis all we have is minutes to respond to calls for assistance. Teams need to know each other, trust each other, and work efficiently together to save lives and make a difference for the people we serve.”
Gabrielson went on to explain two key factors when considering Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response: the ability to save lives after the disaster and the fact that disaster recovery takes a long time.
The work completed during exercises like Pacific Partnership lays the groundwork for multi-lateral cooperation during events that require weeks and months to solve but only give responders days in which to prepare.