Cobra Gold 20: Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Exercise underway

Ryan McGovern an advisor for the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance presents information to participants during the third annual Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Exercise. (Photo by Stephanie Liu)

Story by Theanne Herrmann
Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance

PHITSANULOK PROVINCE, Kingdom of Thailand — The third annual Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Tabletop Exercise, as part of the 39th annual Thai, U.S. co-sponsored Cobra Gold Exercise, commenced with an opening ceremony in Phitsanulok Province, Thailand, Feb. 24.

The HADR TTX consists of a four-day program to learn and share civil-military coordination challenges across a spectrum of operational environments, including international disaster response operations and complex emergencies.

“Over the next four days, this group will have the unique opportunity to explore challenges in both natural disaster environment as well as humanitarian assistance in conflict,” said Mr. Joseph Martin, the director of Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance. “Although, I may run an organization with the name “Center for Excellence” in its title and mandate, the true excellence and innovation in this field comes from participants and practitioners with a passion for helping people in need.”

Areas of emphasis discussed throughout the exercise include principles, guidelines and practices for civil-military interaction across both natural disasters and conflict situations, roles and responsibilities of civilian and military actors, guidance and mechanisms to support effective coordination, protection of civilians, and international humanitarian law.

“This exercise is a great opportunity for us to exchange our views and revise the way ahead for the implementation of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief for the future,” said Lt. Gen. Apisit Nuchbusaba, director of Joint Civil Affairs, Royal Thai Armed Forces. “Nowadays, the world experiences a period of considerable natural disaster. States, governments, world leaders face new challenges, [HADR] is not the duty for an individual organization or a respective country anymore. We need to strengthen our network, cooperate and implement work together.”

The event brings together subject matter experts from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Ruamkatanyu Foundation, Changi Regional HADR Coordination Center, ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management, Malaysian Armed Forces, Kingdom of Thailand Ministry of Defence, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Committee of the Red Cross, and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The exercise includes approximately 100 participants from the following nations: Thailand, United States of America, Singapore, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Korea and Malaysia.