Joint drills help manage difference between China and US: US General
US Army Pacific Commanding General Robert Brown, who headed the US side during the exercises, said while the two sides may still have differences in many areas, the concept of saving lives remains universal.
"I have also found in operations all over the world in my 37 years in the military when you find things in common, it enables you talk about your differences easier. If you don't find things in common, you just focus on differences, it's not effective for anybody. So finding things in common helps you to talk about your differences which is very important," added Brown.
More than 200 soldiers from the People's Liberation Army Southern Theater Command and the U.S. Army Pacific Command and Coast Guard have participated in the week-long exercise.
Drills have included water-surface helicopter rescue, debris and narrow-space rescue operations, as well as training for the rapid deployment of pontoon bridges in the case of flooding, earthquakes or other disasters.
The drills in Oregon are part of institutional exchange program set up between China and the United States in 1997.
Major General Zhang Jian with PLA Southern Theater Command headed the Chinese side during the drills.
He said the level of cooperation among the Chinese and US troops has been increasing year after year during the drills.
"Soldiers from both sides are living in the same military camp. They practice together and live together. Based on the situation, they consult with each other and make decisions together. They have demonstrated a very high degree of cooperation and teamwork during the drills. So in general the drills have not only improved the ability for both sides to deal with natural disasters in a collaborative way, they have also contributed to the further development of ties between the two militaries," he said.
General Robert Brown said as the drills progress, they expect they'll be creating more challenging scenarios for the troops.
"I think the number one thing I would say is to increase the complexity of the disasters and the efforts. We've had difficult situations, but not as complex as we may face for real. One example would be the disaster that happened in Japan a few years ago where there was an earthquake, tsunami and then nuclear facilities. That's a very complex disaster. We have to progress to that type of complexity and I think we are ready to do that in the next iteration of the disaster management exchange."
Leading officials on both sides said they hope the joint drills can be expanded in the future.