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News | June 30, 2023

ARSOUTH takes part in international workshop focused on disaster recovery

By Charles Walke U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District

When faced with a problem, sometimes it is best to look at how someone else approached a similar problem and was successful.

Learning from both their successes and their failures and forging ahead with a plan on tackling your own problem, perhaps with even greater success because you have the example in front of you and can avoid making the same success.

That was the purpose of the Multi-Lateral Disaster Response Lessons Learned Workshop hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, USACE Emergency Management and Resiliency Program, and U.S. Army South from June 12-15 at the Readiness Support Center in Mobile, Alabama.

The workshop provided soldiers from Peru, Brazil, and Chile with disaster relief responsibilities, the opportunity to share how they responded to recent disasters and the lessons they learned in dealing with those life-threatening events.

“The workshop included participants from across USACE, ARSOUTH, Chile, Peru, and Brazil,” said Ashley Leflore, Chief of Emergency Management. “Each country had an opportunity to describe the risks their country faces and the challenges that occur when responding to those types of disaster events.”

The event is part of a series of workshops that are being conducted to share knowledge and build capabilities of the participating South American countries to meet humanitarian needs following major disasters.

“This workshop in Mobile was focused on sharing lessons learned from past disasters in Peru, Brazil, and Chile,” said Diane Acurio, Program Manager for the USACE Emergency Management and Resiliency Program. “We are very pleased with the results and are already working with U.S. Army South to plan future events, to include a proposed Multilateral Tabletop Exercise in FY 2024.

Maj. Carlos Viniclus Carnelro Santana of the Brazilian Army said the knowledge he and his colleagues learned during the workshop would be invaluable as they deal with future disasters.

“This kind of Multilateral Workshop is very important to gain knowledge from other Armed Forces that have been employing their capacities more often,” Santana said. “We are sure that the learned lessons shared this week will help us continue the process to develop our capacities and will contribute to the international interoperability among the Armed Forces of our continent.”

Leflore said that the one invaluable benefit of the workshop was the bond of trust and friendship that was built among the participants.

“It was a great workshop, and it was very interesting to hear other countries facing some of the same challenges we face as an agency in the federal emergency response family,” Leflore said. “Even more fascinating was how quickly we worked through communication barriers to form trust and friendships establishing a solid partnership that will carry forward to our next event together. I look forward in participating in more events like these to see how we can share strategies with each other to overcome those obstacles that complicate emergency response for each of our countries.”