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NEWS | May 21, 2024

Gobi Wolf 2024 strengthens partnerships for disaster resilience

By Capt. Balinda O’Neal, 134th Public Affairs Detachment

Exercise Gobi Wolf 2024 culminated with resounding success during a closing ceremony held in Choibalsan, Mongolia, May 10, marking another significant stride in disaster preparedness and global collaboration.

Co-organized by the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Pacific, this year's exercise exemplified the spirit of partnership and shared commitment to fortifying resilience against disasters worldwide.

Highlighting this aspect, Tech. Sgt. Frankie Bolaños, a firefighter with the Pacific Air Forces, said that the most fulfilling aspect of his job is the opportunity to travel to other countries, meet fellow professionals, exchange skills, and learn from different cultures.

“It’s that gratification of just being able to share with people that have the same goal in mind,” said Bolaños, who completed his second Gobi Wolf and third Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange. “Once you break through that cultural barrier, the humor is the same, the skills are the same, and as far as the nature of the business, everyone's just hungry to help people.”

Bolaños said that he was able to apply his skills and experiences gained from Gobi Wolf 2022 to the 2024 exercise. During the planning phase, he provided feedback, allowing the planning team to anticipate challenges and ensure a smoother operation. Furthermore, NEMA’s enhancement in their capabilities helped improve the exercise.

“We set out a goal to translate this year's Gobi Wolf content, utilizing our own personnel, and I see that it has been a success in that regard,” said Brig. Gen. B. Uuganbayar, deputy director for the Mongolian NEMA, who also complimented the overall success of the four-day exercise. “Gobi Wolf is an important initiative that expands the capacities of our personnel, increases our security against disasters, and builds upon our partnerships and alliances.” 

This year's exercise encompassed a myriad of training including an Expert Academic Discussion, Table Top Exercise and Field Training Exercise, delving into various facets of disaster response. Topics ranged from earthquake response and firefighting to hazmat management, field hospitals, and swift water rescue.

Additionally, Uuganbayar said that academic discussions provided insights into Mongolia's disaster protection system, emergency operations protocols, incident command structures, and coordination of international humanitarian aid efforts.

The exercise drew participation from 12 countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, France, India, Republic of Korea, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. The collective expertise of more than 350 participants from government agencies, ministries, disaster protection services, military, law enforcement, and international humanitarian organizations underscored the exercise's global significance.

Bolaños noted that although participants initially exhibited some shyness, it quickly dissipated as the exercise gained momentum. The atmosphere transformed as the sounds of quiet exchanges turned into a wail of sirens and voices exchanging crucial information all in a coordinated chaos, culminating in shared laughter and camaraderie.

As Exercise Gobi Wolf 2024 concluded, participants departed with enriched knowledge, strengthened partnerships, and a renewed dedication to safeguarding communities against the ever-present threat of natural disasters.