US National Guard, JDF conduct disaster mitigation exercise
Kingston recently played host the District of Columbia National Guard (DCNG) for a military-to-military exchange focused on strengthening Jamaica’s National Disaster Action Plan
According to a release from the US Embassy in Jamaica, the DCNG conducted a table-top exercise, in partnership with the Jamaican Defence Force (JDF), the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), to examine the potential destruction a major earthquake could cause across the island.
“We have had substantial opportunity to have rehearsals and practice in response to disasters in the form of tropical storms and hurricanes,” said JDF Lieutenant Colonel M. Matthews during the joint earthquake table-top exercise outbrief on May 17.
“Earthquakes, we believe, were a constantly looming threat, and one that we do tend to put in the back of our minds, having not experienced a recent significant earthquake,” he said.
During the exercise, DCNG, JDF and ODPEM staff worked alongside each other to develop a plan to contend with all real-time issues in the event of an earthquake. The plan carefully details the steps and resources that would need to be mobilised to mitigate the effects of an earthquake on the population and infrastructure.
Experts from the United States Agency for International Development also monitored the exercise, noting strengths and gaps in disaster response to inform the design of upcoming resilience projects valued at $9 million.
“There is no level of brilliance, no level of operational resources that can replace planning, preparation, and practice,” said JDF Lieutenant General Rocky Meade,chief of defence staff, stressing the critical nature of the exercise.
The embassy’s chargé d’affaires, Eric Khant, lauded the exchange, describing it as “a critical partnership for disaster readiness”. He also asserted that “this activity will underlie future planning and identify ways where the United States can continue supporting Jamaica’s preparation for a natural disaster, including humanitarian assistance.”