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OpEx Bravo: Communication in the Crisis Area

In crisis areas, efficient humanitarian aid can only be provided when the international intervention teams are well connected via appropriate communication technology. At THW‘s National Training School in Neuhausen, IT and telecommunication specialists of the United Nations’ (UN) World Food Programme (WFP), Unicef and other organisations will exercise the setting up and maintenance of communication networks for rescue personnel this week. To achieve this, they will be supported by the Vodafone Foundation and the Government of Luxembourg.

The exercise scenario is complex: the 20 participants from all over the world will be confronted with weeks of heavy rain, massive flooding and an earthquake. Following their arrival in the disaster-stricken fictitious country, the exercise for the first responders started with the setting up of their tents in the different practice areas. Their activities will include exchange of information, distribution of the fields of operation and contact with their organisation at home under the most adverse conditions. The main tasks of the next days will be the setting up and maintenance of satellite connections and radio links.
Repeatedly, technical breakdowns and power cuts will pose new challenges to the IT-experts. Furthermore, visits by local authorities and organisations, meetings with internally displaced people and rebel groups will call for the participants‘ social and intercultural competences.
“The aim of the exercise OpEx Bravo is to prepare technicians and managers for their later work in crisis areas in the context of a realistic mission scenario to allow them to be ready for world-wide operations any time”, said Ms Cindy Heselten, exercise instructor of the World Food Programme. Social conflicts with the local people, tight schedules and technical difficulties will offer new challenges to the teams and contribute to the exchange of ideas and team-building.
At the locations of THW’s National Training School in Neuhausen (Baden-Württemberg) and Hoya (Lower Saxony) the THW volunteers will be prepared for all eventualities. Besides the topics of flood protection, cross-country drives and scaffolding, the training programme also includes the training of managers, mediation courses or extremism prevention. Further special courses will prepare the THW-staff for the special requirements of foreign operations and impart the necessary specialist knowledge for an assignment in one of THW’s foreign units.
On behalf of WFP and financed with funding from the Foreign Office, THW will organise the exercise on the premises of THW’s National Training School in Neuhausen.

  • One of the international teams (left: WFP, middle: Unicef, right: Radar Australia) building a satellite system. (show image)

  • While they are building the communication systems, the teams are regularly interrupted: here last preparations for a meeting with injured people.  (show image)

  • A MastKW of THW serves the IT- and telecommunication specialists as an antenna to set up radio links between the different exercise sites.  (show image)

  • A fire in the coordination camp disturbs the participants in the night and  requires evacuation and emergency plans. (show image)

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