China, U.S. armies to begin joint disaster exercise

Published: Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 3:40 p.m. CDT

HONOLULU (AP) — Army officials from China and the United States are meeting in Hawaii for an annual disaster relief exercise that will include field training for the first time this year.

Specifics of the exercise scenario starting Tuesday have not been publicly released. U.S. Army Pacific officials have only described it as a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation requiring U.S. and China military cooperation in a fictional third country.

On Thursday, U.S. and Chinese soldiers will train in a field exercise at Bellows Air Force Base, on a Marine Corps training area on the east side of Oahu.

Col. Bill Florig, chief of civil military operations for U.S. Army Pacific, said in announcing the exercises last month that the event is the largest between the United States and China armies.

"What we are trying to emphasize in this exchange is our inherent flexibility," Florig said. "They (China) are looking to see that flexibility that we have demonstrated so often in the past in disaster response."

Officials say the first two days of the exchange will be academic, while the field work will include practice with field equipment.

The United States will have 50 people participate, including soldiers and civilians from U.S. Army Pacific, the Hawaii Army National Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. China is expected to bring 60 soldiers and observers.

The exchange is an annual exercise that is part of a security cooperation agreement established in 1998.

Last year in China, military officials discussed how they would respond to an earthquake.

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Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia

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