Gates Endorses Disaster Relief Proposal at Conference

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, Nov. 22, 2010 — A pro­pos­al that would improve inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion among West­ern Hemi­sphere nations in dis­as­ter relief efforts received a strong endorse­ment from Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates here today.
In remarks dur­ing a ple­nary ses­sion of the Con­fer­ence of the Defense Min­is­ters of the Amer­i­c­as, Gates said the pro­pos­al result­ed from exten­sive con­sul­ta­tion and delib­er­a­tion, includ­ing Sep­tem­ber work­shops in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and Lima, Peru. Lessons learned from relief oper­a­tions in the wake of January’s earth­quake in Haiti informed the dis­cus­sions, he added.

“Those ses­sions includ­ed detailed input from many of our coun­tries aimed at debrief­ing the key ele­ments need­ed to improve coop­er­a­tion on dis­as­ter relief,” Gates told his West­ern Hemi­sphere col­leagues. “Those dis­cus­sions were aid­ed by hon­est assess­ments of what worked and what didn’t in Haiti.”

The pro­pos­al calls for:

— Stan­dard­iz­ing a sys­tem for mil­i­tary col­lab­o­ra­tion dur­ing dis­as­ter relief oper­a­tions through a Mil­i­tary Assis­tance Col­lab­o­ra­tion Cell; –Adopt­ing a com­mon plat­form for infor­ma­tion shar­ing; and

— Estab­lish­ing work­ing groups to devel­op the frame­work for mil­i­tary sup­port for civil­ian-led dis­as­ter relief oper­a­tions.

“I whole­heart­ed­ly endorse this pro­pos­al,” Gates said, “and believe it is a promis­ing blue­print for oth­er coop­er­a­tive efforts to fur­ther our mutu­al inter­ests in con­crete and ben­e­fi­cial ways. I also believe the proposal’s work­ing groups might pro­vide a mea­sure of con­ti­nu­ity by facil­i­tat­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion in between our bien­ni­al min­is­te­r­i­al gath­er­ings.

“Most impor­tant­ly,” he con­tin­ued, “this ini­tia­tive will go far to help mit­i­gate the human suf­fer­ing that results from these tragedies.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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