Armenia hosts NATO’s annual disaster response exercise

  • 11 Sep. 2010 - 17 Sep. 2010
  • |
  • Last updated: 16 Sep. 2010 10:42

From 11 to 17 September, NATO is holding its annual disaster response exercise near the Armenian capital of Yerevan, organized by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC).

The scenario of “Armenia 2010” is set in the city of Arzni in the Kotayk region north-east of Yerevan, where a severe earthquake has caused high numbers of casualties and widespread damage to critical infrastructure.

Almost 30 NATO and Partner countries are participating in rescue teams, putting EADRCC procedures and capabilities to the test and challenging their ability to work together on issues such as controlling borders and responding to chemical, biological or radiological incidents.

Focusing on cooperation and coordination among international teams is crucial to train rescuers, said Ragnar Boe, EADRCC Exercise Director. He compared the exercise to real-life disasters such as the Pakistani earthquake and the floods in Haiti, where there has been a clear need for the intervention of international teams.

The exercise has three phases, starting with the arrival of the participants in Armenia, which is hosting its first exercise in the framework of NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC). After preparation and training, a week of intensive field exercises at eleven main sites outside Yerevan follows. Finally, the exercise will close with a debriefing, demonstrations and a closing ceremony.

The EADRCC has been conducting the annual exercise since 2000, but “Armenia 2010” is the first to be held in the Caucasus region. It is also the first field exercise open to countries participating in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI).

More than 600 participants from NATO and Partner countries are involved in the exercise, as well as representatives from other international organizations such as the United Nations (UN-OCHA) and NGOs.

The EADRCC was launched following the earthquake disaster in Turkey and Greece in the late 1990s, which highlighted the impact of natural disasters for human security and critical infrastructure. It underlined the added value that could be provided by establishing a focal point for coordinating disaster relief efforts among NATO member and partner countries.