Airmen gain knowledge in Indonesian exercise

  • Published
  • By Capt. Joel Banjo-Johnson
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
U.S. and Indonesian service members recently shared knowledge in a 10-day bilateral exercise that allowed participants to plan humanitarian assistance in a devastating natural disaster scenario.

The operational-level planning exercise, dubbed Gema Bhakti, structured academic sessions in a way that fostered professional development through continuous dialogue, promoting positive military relations, increasing cultural awareness, and enhancing training.

Maj. Leah Sprecher, a Pacific Air Forces legal planner, has participated in several bilateral exercises and believed such drills provide service members with opportunities to learn under unique situations.

“Gema Bhakti has been a great opportunity to learn about the capabilities and processes both the U.S. and Indonesia would employ in response to a (disaster),” Sprecher said. “Both countries have learned a great deal from each other, and this knowledge will facilitate future endeavors together.”

In the third installment of Gema Bhakti, or Echo of Good Deeds, nearly 90 participants were divided into four groups that rotated through different lanes of efforts every two days.

“It’s been great to see how the TNI (Indonesian National Armed Forces) operate during a disaster,” said 1st Lt. Jeff Reardon, the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels management flight commander and logistics planner, of his Indonesian National Armed Forces counterparts. “It’s been a good process to see what each of us brings to the fight.”

Indonesian troops shared a similar sentiment while working alongside U.S. service members during the exercise that ended Sept. 23.

“This exercise has been very good,” said Indonesian National Armed Forces air force Capt. Oktoberiandi, a C-130 pilot. “We can learn how to work together, have teamwork and share knowledge and experiences within (a disaster response). This training has also taught us how to respect each other.”

The scenario centered on a 7.3-magnitude earthquake that hit a notional third party country in the Indo- Pacific region. The host nation requested foreign and international assistance, including military assistance, and U.S. and Indonesian service members responded to the request.

Gema Bhakti participants came together as planners in their respective areas of expertise to identify, discuss and analyze how they’d assist the affected country and what factors they’d consider in the scenario.

Disaster response hits close to home for Capt. Anthony Noto, who’s stationed in Guam as a 36th Emergency Management flight commander and engineer planner.

“Coordination and planning is definitely key when responding to natural disasters,” Noto said. “In Guam, for example, we respond to different disasters all the time and working in EM; I can definitely appreciate the planning process.”

Though the exercise has ended, the professional development gained will not be forgotten, service members said. For Capt. Jodi Verkleir, the 36th Medical Group readiness flight commander and medical planner, she said the experience was invaluable.

“I’m grateful to receive this opportunity to interact with not only our sister services but our gracious hosts from the TNI,” she said.