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NEWS | July 19, 2023

USARPAC holds first ever South Asia exercise to strengthen regional resilience

By Sgt. Dominique Crittenden and Spc. Elizabeth MacPherson

BARRIGADA, Guam – The United States Army Pacific hosted six South Asian countries in the region's first-ever Disaster Response & Exchange Exercise, July 12, 2023.

The 10-day DREE will focus on disaster management and response operations.

Military and civil representatives from the U.S. and its international allies and partners from throughout South Asia, including Singapore, India, Nepal, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar converge with the purpose of enhancing regional cooperation and camaraderie, strengthening disaster response capabilities, and improving overall strategies, mechanisms, and coordination efforts.

Participants will exchange knowledge and identify areas for improvement in their disaster response frameworks.

Additionally, the Guam National Guard will conduct a field exercise to allow participating service members practice implementing their insights through a multi-hazard simulation within the fictional island nation of Ondalara.

The DREE comes at the heels of Typhoon Mawar here, adding to the exercise’s value and timeliness. The exercise further showcases USARPAC's commitment to respond to natural and man-made crises, and strengthen regional resilience in the face of adversity.

By examining the complexities following natural disasters, as well as infrastructure failures, the U.S. Army and its South Asian partners aim to enhance preparedness and capacity for disaster response operations.

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Leia Puco, USARPAC civil-military operations noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) shares, “Some of [the South Asian countries] are dealing with earthquake issues, like our Nepal brothers and sisters. Then you have individuals like the Maldives and how they have to deal with typhoons or the grief of climate change, and having to do with losing their beaches and essentially losing the land they’re living on.”

This region is home to 60% of the world's population and contains the most rugged, distributed, and diverse terrain in the world.

“It’s a global issue and all of us are having to deal with this,” says Puco. “We learn so much every time we get together with different people, different nations who come to solutions in their own creative ways.”