Pacific leaders plan disaster relief strategy

Operational planners, gender experts and disaster responders from Pacific military forces and non-government organisations gathered in Papua New Guinea for the second annual Regional Exercise Longreach, a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) exercise.

PapuaCommander 1st (Australian) Division Major General Scott Winter and delegates at the official opening of Regional Exercise Longreach and South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Story by Captain Peter Nugent.

Regional Exercise Longreach is an initiative of the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting, established to strengthen Pacific military cooperation, coordination, and contributions to regional humanitarian assistance and disaster relief responses.

The annual tabletop exercise aims to better prepare regional militaries to respond to natural disasters, as well as refine HADR standard operating procedures in readiness for the high-risk weather season.

In 2023, the unique role of gender in disasters was also incorporated into scenarios.

For Regional Exercise Longreach 2023, the Papua New Guinea Defence Force co-hosted with the ADF in Port Moresby at the Murray Barracks Leadership Centre.

CAPTIONMembers from the Australian Defence Force, Papua New Guinea Defence Force, the British Armed Forces and other partner nations participate in Regional Exercise Longreach.

Participants from Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States attended.

This year’s attendees were from a mixture of military and civilian agencies who brought their expertise in gender, peace, and security, policing, defence, emergency management and disaster response.

Acting PNGDF CDF Commodore Polewara and Commander Joint Task Force 637 Major General Scott Winter officially welcomed delegates to the exercise.

“The Papua New Guinea Defence Force is proud of our history of support to regional security responses, including HADR,” Commodore Polewara said.

“As founding members of the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting, we were pleased to welcome our fellow members to Port Moresby to strengthen our cooperation and share experiences.

“By having a procedure in place, we can respond quickly and effectively to an emergency in the Pacific which will allow us to protect our people.”

Major General Winter echoed his counterpart’s sentiment and highlighted the role of the exercise.

“Regional Exercise Longreach has an important role to ensure all South Pacific Defence Ministers’ meeting members can provide coordinated responses to a future natural disaster,” he said.

Regional Exercise Longreach will build connections across countries and key partners in the Pacific region.


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