Seriousness, fun in joint military exercises

By LIA ZHU in Seaside, Oregon | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-11-20 23:55

Seriousness, fun in joint military exercises

Chinese and US troops perform a joint confined-space rescue operation at Camp Rilea Armed Forces Training Facility of the Oregon Army National Guard in Warrenton, Oregon. YIN BOGU / XINHUA

It's a rare moment when you hear US soldiers shout commands in Chinese, and vice versa.

But at a military camp in Oregon, US and Chinese soldiers not only exchanged rescue methods but also commands during a joint exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief on Saturday.

Two teams of eight soldiers, four from each side, were tasked to set up two rope bridges to transfer "patients" across a river in a flood-based simulation.

Not far from the "flood" site, two groups of rescuers were performing a confined-space rescue operation at a "rubble pile".

"It's pretty fun; we teach each other some words. We had a lot of laughing," said Matthew Means, first lieutenant in charge of the simulated rescue operations.

The joint exercise between the Chinese and the US militaries, which was held from Thursday through Sunday at Camp Rilea Armed Forces Training Center of the Oregon Army National Guard in Warrenton, Oregon, involved more than 200 people from both sides. Its goal was to improve response to natural disasters and to deepen relations and cooperation between the sides.

"What we've learned is there are different methods to accomplish the same purpose. The PLA (People's Liberation Army) showed us different ways of tying knots and setting up a rope bridge," said Means.

He said there were no better or worse methods.

"One way might be faster but less stable; the other way might be more secure but slower," he said. "We can have the different methodologies in our toolbox to pull out when needed."

The US participants were from the US Army Pacific, and the Chinese came from the PLA Southern Theater Command Army. To most of them, it's their first time participating in a joint exercise with another country.

"It's all about cooperation and collaboration together to save lives in a difficult crisis. It's critical to form the relationship before the crisis," said General Robert Brown, commander of the US Army Pacific, following the conclusion of the joint exercise on Sunday.

In just three years, 1 billion people living in the Indonesian Pacific region were residing in disaster-prone areas classified as high or extremely high risk, said Brown, citing a 2016 United Nations report.

"I feel, if a disaster happens right now in the Pacific region, with the way we cooperate, we would be way ahead and save a lot lives because of the effort here," said Brown.

This joint exercise is part of the consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump. It also is part of the exchange mechanism between the two militaries.

"The Chinese and the US soldiers live in the same barracks, face the same difficulties and make decisions collaboratively," said Major General Zhang Jian, commander of PLA Southern Theater Command Army.

"It's helpful that we can come together with another country in case of emergency or disaster to accomplish humanitarian missions," said Means. "It broadened our horizons."

Mo Sihua, a Chinese first lieutenant, was impressed by a "casualty collection point" tactic by his US counterparts.

Lei Yang, a deputy company commander, said "they (the US soldiers) are interested in learning Chinese from us, and they are pretty quick in picking up Chinese words. We learned a lot, too.

"The old Chinese saying has it that no skill is burden."


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