U.S. Army Garrison Japan exercises emergency response

(Photo Credit: Tim Flack, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs)
(Photo Credit: Tim Flack, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs)

U.S. Army Garrison Japan exercises emergency response

by Tim Flack
U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – U.S. Army Garrison Japan held a no-notice exercise Tuesday to test its ability to conduct emergency operations.

The exercise focused on a very real threat for the region—a typhoon.

The typhoon season in Japan runs from May through October, with most activity occurring between July and September. Typhoons, large tropical cyclones, can cover massive areas and generate winds nearing 200 miles per hour. Typhoons can be deadly and are often accompanied by damaging high tides and devastating landslides.

Everet Sterling, installation emergency manager for the Garrison’s Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, organized the exercise to test the Garrison’s ability to respond to such an emergency.

While exercises often focus on the response to an ongoing contingency, Tuesday’s training focused on initial recovery operations after the typhoon.

Emergency Function Support members were recalled at 5 a.m. Tuesday and were directed to report to the emergency operations center to help facilitate preliminary damage assessment.

Exercise members were told that the overnight typhoon brought 6 to 8 inches of rain with 115 mph winds, causing some structural damage, power and water outages, and minor injuries.

“Typhoons pose a very real and significant threat to our overall community,” Sterling said, “so exercises like this are crucially important for our ability to care for our people. Our focus for this exercise was how we could shift into recovering our installations.”

Sterling also invited members of Sagamihara City’s crisis management team to observe the exercise as a way to boost bilateral partnership.

Yumiko Suzuki, Sagamihara City’s Crisis Management Bureau director and Crisis Management supervisor, thanked the Garrison for the opportunity to observe the exercise, and said such opportunities help with communication.

“While we’re two different organizations, the same typhoon will hit us both,” Suzuki said. “That’s why it’s important for us to be able to work together during times of crisis.”

Capt. Mike Clark, a DPTMS operations officer, served as the EOC “battle captain,” leading exercise efforts as the Garrison commander’s representative.

Clark said the exercise gave the team a realistic way to run through the paces of what they could expect in the case of a real emergency, from “not knowing what to expect with infrastructure damage and simulated injuries to forming and deploying rapid assessment teams.”

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