CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – Joint personnel assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) hosted an Emergency Response Information Exchange (ERIE) multinational discussion from Feb. 12-14, 2019.
The three-day discussion included representatives from the U.S., Japan, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Djibouti, who identified various capabilities each nation can offer during the event of a natural disaster in Djibouti, including communication equipment, emergency vehicles and medical support.
“This discussion is important because we are getting all the players in the room so that if a disaster were to happen it would not be the first time that our staff has met; especially since one of the most challenging things we’ll encounter is the language barriers with all the nations involved,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Alex Jones, CJTF-HOA deputy director of training, readiness and exercises. “Making sure things are not lost in translation and that we have a plan to communicate with each other is integral to our success.”
Jones hopes that ERIE will eventually lead to similar events, providing coalition forces more opportunities to better prepare for disasters.
“We hope that this would be the first of maybe annual re-occurrences of similar events that might actually become exercises with more robust scenarios,” said Jones. “I think the important thing to take away is that there is a team here in Djibouti. We all have a vested interest in responding to a disaster and can work in a concerted manner to help ourselves, and help the Djiboutians if one were to occur.”
“It’s a great opportunity for us to upgrade our knowledge of managing a disaster with the whole team of army presence in Djibouti; Americans, French, Japanese, Spanish, etc.,” said Fatouma Awaleh Osman, mayor of Djibouti City. “It will be an exchange of knowledge, but also an exchange of contact to know who’s who and to be better prepared in the future for any kind of disaster.”
Working together throughout the course helped participants build better lines of communication and understanding on how to operate in a real-world emergency.
“It’s important for us to work together,” said Osman. “Djibouti City is not only for the Djiboutians. We have foreign forces present here as well. In the case of a disaster, it’s not only the responsibility of the Djiboutian government, but also those who are living in this city and have a part of this state,” “It’s a great opportunity to meet everybody here [to learn about] their capabilities, where they can help and how they can find a solution for their coordination in terms of managing a disaster.”
Understanding how to work bi-laterally can help reduce response times, which can save lives.
“The effects of communicating and streamlining processes helps get aid to a specific area faster, problems can be brought up quicker, solutions can be found and processed quicker,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Marcus Rosenthal, CJTF-HOA future operations actions officer. “Everything is just done quicker, you know the faster a disaster is dealt with and recovered from, the less loss of life, property and equipment.”
Strategic communication such as the ERIE discussion help CJTF-HOA, partner nations, coalition forces, and interagency and intergovernmental organizations achieve a unified effort in ensuring public safety.
“This discussion has been extremely important for relationship building, liaison officer familiarization, formulation of a crisis response committee and the associated analysis of what technical assistance is required,” said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. James R. Kriesel, deputy commanding general of CJTF-HOA. “This is the start of an enduring process with Djibouti for emergency response. CJTF-HOA and Camp Lemonnier will continue to assess crisis response ways ahead with our great partners and hosts of Djibouti. These relationships are critical for preparedness in the event of a potential natural disaster here.”