Exercises Prepared U.S. Military for Philippine Typhoon Response

December 3, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Relationships with Philippine military counterparts helped clear logistical hurdles and speed relief to victims.

Years of exercises between the Philippine and U.S. militaries helped both countries work together in the massive rescue effort after the Asian nation was devastated recently by a typhoon. The U.S. effort, designated Operation Damayan, featured effective coordination amid a sterling execution by the Philippine military, according to U.S. military officers.

At TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, a panel featuring the U.S. Pacific Command’s -6s discussed how those rescue efforts came together. Col. James Dillon, USMC, the assistant chief of staff for G-6, Marine Forces Pacific, noted that when the disaster struck, personal relationships already existed, and both sides could leverage that.

He noted that most of the operations undertaken by the Pacific Command, such as Pacific Endeavor, tend to be for humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR). Its exercises reflect that, and they rehearsed HA/DR. “The success of the United States was based on that level of preparation,” the colonel said.

While cultural and logistical issues were overcome, technology did throw some roadblocks in the path. Col. Michael Finn II, USAF, director of communications and chief information officer, headquarters, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, said that the Pacific Air Forces did not exercise its tactical satellite phone properly, and so it had trouble establishing that capability. “We didn’t practice enough because it costs money,” he stated. “We lost valuable time because we didn’t exercise for that.”


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