ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia — Alaska soldiers joined an international team of members from Mongolia and the United States to conduct an earthquake-readiness exercise together here last week. Exercise Gobi Wolf 2015 was a civil-military disaster preparedness and response initiative that focused on regional readiness in response to natural and man-made disasters.
Gobi Wolf is part of the Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange program, which focuses on interagency coordination and foreign humanitarian assistance. It is designed to test disaster response processes while maximizing realism through a series of scenarios.
Five soldiers from U.S. Army Alaska and the Alaska National Guard joined 100 participants from 30 governmental, non-governmental, municipal and military agencies across Mongolia, the U.S. and international relief agencies participating in the disaster response exercise and exchange. They served as disaster-response focus group facilitators to international groups focusing on communication and media support, military support to humanitarian assistance and national emergency management.
“The value of Gobi Wolf is its ability to promote interagency coordination and civil-military cooperation between humanitarian-assistance/disaster-relief stakeholders from the Government of Mongolia, the U.S., international government agencies, non-governmental agencies and others,” said Justin Pummell, U.S. Army Pacific program manager for Pacific Resilience. “This builds relationships, which can expedite communication during a real-world emergency.”
The two primary objectives of Gobi Wolf were to promote interagency coordination and civil-military coordination between the National Emergency Management Agency, the Mongolia Armed Forces, the U.S. and others, and to increase the Mongolian government’s knowledge of what would be available to them as international tools and services to support government-led disaster-response efforts.
“The exercise offers an outstanding opportunity for us to work together, build the relationships between organizations that will allow us to respond more effectively in the time of disaster,” said Maj. Gen. Gregory Bilton, deputy commanding general (operations) for U.S. Army Pacific. “This is why exercises like Gobi Wolf are so important.”
The four-day exercise included disaster risk and multi-agency capacity briefs, a table-top exercise, and field training events at the Chinggis Khaan International Airport and the Khan-uul District Hospital in Ulaanbaatar.
The exercise evaluated Mongolia disaster readiness through five separate focus areas including national emergency management, media relations/communication, military considerations, first responder, and international government and non-governmental agencies.
The five workgroups spent the exercise responding to scenario events to evaluate how the 30 agencies involved would respond to assist affected populations in an actual earthquake. The strengths and weaknesses identified are being recorded and will be analyzed to improve disaster-response planning.
“It is designed to grow and reinforce capacity through scenarios that simulate reality, identify procedural gaps, and practice techniques required for efficient and collaborative response by civilian and military authorities,” Pummell said. “Pacific Resilience practices how militaries support civilian authorities when required during disaster situations, the reception and dissemination of foreign humanitarian assistance and the strategic communication required to successfully execute emergency management plans.”
Gobi Wolf is part of U.S. Army Pacific’s Pacific Resilience program, USARPAC’s main platform for identifying best practices and lessons learned across the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief spectrum. Its mission is to enhance all parties’ abilities to respond and recover from an emergency situation.