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Pacific Endeavor Exercise Tests New Communications Capability

By Air Force Master Sgt. Todd Kabalan Defense Media Activity - Hawaii

BRISBANE, Australia, Aug. 22, 2016 — Nearly 250 military communication experts from more than 20 Pacific partner nations are participating in Exercise Pacific Endeavor 2016 here, learning first-hand the importance of speed and interoperability of communication assets when responding to a multinational crisis.

Representatives from the Multinational Communications Interoperability Program, a U.S. Pacific Command-sponsored humanitarian assistance and disaster relief information-sharing operation, are co-hosting the exercise with the Australian Defense Force to help improve interoperability of communications technologies among nations in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

The exercise is made up of multiple training modules aimed to keep participants ahead of ever-changing technological advances in case of an emergency, officials said.

Applying Lessons Learned

In addition to validating existing radio, cyber and satellite technologies, Pacific Endeavor 2016 will offer something new by putting lessons learned from last year’s exercise into hands-on practice during a field training exercise. Using two simulated forward operating bases, the participants will field an innovative communication transmission skill.

“This year, we’re focusing on a new capability: internet protocol over radio frequency,” said Scott Griffin, the Multinational Communications Interoperability Program’s technical director. “That will give everyone, regardless of the type of radio you’re using, the ability to tie into a backside network and link into the internet.”

Using internet protocol over radio frequency would help responders on the ground in a crisis to transmit information over much farther distances and terrain than tradition methods, exercise officials noted, adding that these types of innovations keep communicators ready for what may lie ahead.

“Technology has grown exponentially,” said U.S. Army Col. Jim McCallister, chief of multinational engagements at Pacom. “We constantly have to strive to reach out to discover new toolsets and new technologies to support our common efforts, … because we know that we will have some sort of disaster in the region. That’s what the percentages say.”

Building on Evolution of Growth

These relationships have proven to be valuable, officials noted, as seen during humanitarian assistance and disaster response events in Nepal and the Philippines in recent years. With that in mind, officials added, Pacific Endeavor participants are building on the evolution of growth and learning through face-to-face interactions.

“Far above the communications interoperability piece, it’s just the relationship-building -- the bonds that everybody creates and the contacts that you create -- that can come in very useful,” said Lt. Col. Nicole Heffernan of the Royal Australian Air Force, co-host for the exercise.

“We are so looking forward to the next two weeks,” said Lt. Col. Michael King of the Australian army. “We want to continue working on our interoperability and our relationships and friendships with each other, so that when we do have the unfortunate circumstances or natural disasters in any of our countries, we are all more capable to respond quicker and faster to be able to help all our people, especially the most vulnerable.”

The nations expected to participate this year are Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Fiji, French Polynesia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, South Korea, Samoa, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United States and Vietnam.

The exercise is scheduled to conclude Sept. 2. This year’s workshop marks the 14th anniversary of the program, officials said.

Distribution channels: Military