JAKARTA, Indonesia --
Education is gained through many different forums and plays a significant role in the development of service members. Oftentimes, service members gain knowledge and perspective through dialogue, personal experiences and formal instruction. In the case of exercise Gema Bhakti, the professional development opportunity provided through the 10-day, bilateral joint exercise between U.S. and Tentara Nasional Indonesia service members is no different.
Designed to lead participants through operational-level planning during a humanitarian assistance disaster relief scenario, Gema Bhakti structures its academic sessions in a way that fosters professional development through continuous dialogue, promoting positive military relations, increasing cultural awareness and enhancing training and understanding of each country’s capabilities.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Leah Sprecher, Pacific Air Forces chief of contingency law and legal planner, has participated in several bilateral, joint exercises and believes such exercises provide service members with the opportunity for continuous learning.
“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 HA/DR event,” Sprecher said. “Both countries have learned a great deal from each other, and this knowledge will facilitate future endeavors together.”
Eighty-eight total Gema Bhakti participants were divided into four groups that rotated through a different lane of effort every two days. The structure allowed service members to get to know one another and understand how each member thinks.
“It’s been great to see how the TNI operate during a disaster,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jeff Reardon, 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels management flight commander and logistics planner. “It’s been a good process to see what each of us brings to the fight.”
Increasing ones general knowledge has occurred across the spectrum of the exercise. TNI service members alike shared their experiences working with U.S. service members.
“This exercise has been very good,” said TNI air force Capt. Oktoberiandi, C-130 pilot. “We can learn how to work together, have teamwork and share knowledge and experiences within HA/DR. This training has also taught us how to respect each other.”
“We’re better prepared now that we have a friendship network established,” he said.
The scenario centered on a 7.3 earthquake that hit a notional third party country within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The host nation requested foreign and international assistance, including military assistance, and U.S. and Indonesia 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 would assist an affected country and what factors they would consider in the HA/DR scenario.
HA/DR operations is a concept that has significant importance to U.S. Air Force Capt. Anthony Noto, 36th Emergency Management flight commander and engineer planner. Noto is stationed in Guam and recognizes the importance of planning for natural disasters.
“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 is nearing its end, the professional development gained will not be forgotten. For U.S. Air Force Capt. Jodi Verkleir, 36th Medical Group readiness flight commander and medical planner, the experience she gained 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.
Gema Bhakti, or Echo of Good Deeds, is in its third iteration. The operational-level staff exercise focused on four lanes of efforts within the context of HA/DR: Multinational Coordination Center, Rules of Engagement, Humanitarian Operations and Civil-Military Coordination and Urban Search and Rescue.