U.S. military hosts NEO exercise
By Senior Airman Kia Atkins, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 10, 2014
Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar -- Department of Defense civilians, military personnel and their dependents recently participated in a noncombatant evacuation exercise here, Dec. 6.
Exercises like these are an opportunity for the U.S. Army and Air Force to train military members, refine planning and help prepare noncombatants such as U.S. military dependents as well as DoD civilians and their families in the event of a full-scale evacuation order from the U.S. Department of State.
“We host these types of exercises annually so that if an evacuation is ever needed to occur, not only would we be ready, but families and DoD civilians would be prepared as well,” said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Robert Upfield, Area Support Group-Qatar operations office orders officer deployed from the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of New Jersey. “It’s important that everyone understands the role they play in events like this because you never know when a real-world emergency could happen.”
During an evacuation, numerous factors must be taken into consideration such as the physical safety of evacuees, their pets and property; the logistics involved in moving large numbers of people on short notice; the food, housing and medical care of evacuees; the rapid preparation and processing of legal and financial documents, which permit evacuees to receive compensation as well as psychological and spiritual support.
“NEO exercises help families understand what an evacuation means and it allows us as a staff to take into consideration the planning of the details in case we ever need to execute an evacuation,” said U.S. Army Capt. Robert Mountain, ASG-QA plans officer and officer in charge of the NEO. “This exercise allows the participants to be able to see the type of paperwork that needs to be filled out and everything they need to do in the event of an evacuation.”
These types of exercises are used as a tool to assess and validate the procedures used by the Army because in the event of an emergency evacuation, the U.S. Army is tasked with its planning and execution.
“These exercises are important because they help the military streamline practices to ensure we can evacuate safely and efficiently,” said Amira Timble, civil affairs office translator and military spouse. “It also allows us as family members to know what we need to have prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.”
One instance where training from NEO exercises was put to practical use was when military family members and non-essential DoD civilians were evacuated from Japan in March 2011 due to an earthquake and subsequent tsunami.