By Air Force Capt. Joel Banjo-Johnson 36th Wing
JAKARTA, Indonesia, October 1, 2015 — The service members here who are participating in Gema Bhakti -- Indonesian for "echo of good deeds" -- are doing their part to ensure the exercise lives up to its name.
Gema Bhakti is a 10-day bilateral joint exercise that joins U.S. service members and the Indonesian armed forces -- the Tentara Nasional Indonesia -- and has them work through a humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief scenario.
The current iteration of the exercise simulates the effects of an earthquake.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Jodi Verkleir, 36th Medical Support Squadron Readiness Flight commander and medical planner participant, said the experience she is gaining is invaluable.
"I'm grateful to receive this opportunity to interact with not only our sister services but our gracious hosts from the TNI," said Verkleir. "We are able to utilize each other's experiences and expertise to plan and work through the scenario."
She said the role of a medical planner is to coordinate medical relief efforts with military units, as well as other civilian organizations to avoid duplication of efforts. "The same goes for other planning functions, as the primary objective would be to ensure humanitarian relief is received to those in need," she said.
Four Lanes of Effort
The operational-level staff exercise focuses on four lanes of effort: the multinational coordination center; rules of engagement; humanitarian operations and civil-military coordination; and urban search and rescue. Each lane maintains the same overall objective, which is to coordinate and practice how the U.S. and Indonesia would assist another country after a natural disaster.
Verkleir said she began her discussions with the multinational coordination center, where she engaged in dialogue with TNI partners on the roles and responsibilities of the center during a humanitarian relief effort.
Responders assigned to a multinational coordination center facilitate coordination and cooperation of foreign military forces with the affected nation to support the assistance and relief missions.
After the coordination center, Verkleir said she explored the rules of engagement lane, where she collaborated and practiced the skills necessary to identify, analyze, and address the legal planning considerations inherent to the response efforts.
"Knowing ROE in [humanitarian-assistance and disaster-relief] missions is not just for the lawyers," said Verkleir. "It's important to understand the legalities with every mission conducted."
Verkleir said she will proceed through the other lanes during the rest of the exercise and she plans to learn about the significance of interaction between civilian and military agencies in a humanitarian situation and prioritization of requirements during rescue operations.