A MAJOR training exercise coordinated by the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) wrapped up in May, comprising more than 80 participants from PNG, the USA, Australia, the Solomon Islands and various international, private and non-governmental organisations.

The Oceania Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange (DREE) was a five-day exercise co-hosted by the Papua New Guinea National Disaster Centre, run with the assistance of the US Army Pacific (USARPAC).

The disaster scenario used for this year’s DREE was a cyclone severely impacting the regional island nations and moving on to Lae, Papua New Guinea. The scenario involved floods restricting roads and port activities.

The exercise consisted of presentations and discussions from subject matter experts, a tabletop exercise, a field training exercise and an after action review.

A field training exercise was conducted during the DREE and took place at the Lae port, Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) Memorial Hospital and the Nadzib Airport.

Participants had the opportunity to evaluate and tour these facilities to further understand the capabilities needed to support the Province in the case of disaster.

PNGDF commander Gilbert Toropo said it was important that government and other relief agencies developed frameworks for dealing with natural disasters following the exercise.

“If we practice together in peacetime, we will be able to effectively deal with the outcomes of a natural disaster,” he said.

USARPAC deputy commanding general James Pasquarette said he hoped lessons learned could form part of a growing relationship between the two nations.

“I will tell you that beyond working through the hard problems of the exercise over the last few days, more importantly we have established some important personal relationships that, if nurtured, can linger well into the future,” he said.