Southern Air Command conducted a Multilateral Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise - 'Samvedna' at Trivandrum from March 12-16, 2018.
This is the first composite Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Air exercise in the South Asian Region and involved representatives from Air Forces of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and UAE. 'Samvedna' meaning 'Empathy' would ensure better understanding and sharing of response procedures between a number of friendly neighbouring nations.
The broad format of the exercise included ground training in the initial phase and flying exercise. Broadly, the entire settings of the 'Samvedna' is based on an event of occurrence of Tsunami in the Western Coast of India originating from an earthquake in Makran subduction zone, and resulting Post-Tsunami disaster along the western coast and western islands of India. Flying and field activities undertaken by the respective Air Forces towards HADR will be practiced under controlled conditions from Air Force Station Sanghumugam.
This exercise being spearheaded by the IAF, is the first step by Air Forces of the region to practice and evolve a joint HADR capability. It would help in putting in place a basic framework for conduct of Joint Air HADR operations, which will be further refined by subsequent exercises. This step is likely to lead to more coordinated and efficient HADR Air operations in the entire South Asian region when the need arises.
As part of Ex-Samvedna, live demonstration of Bambi Bucket exercise, winching and food dropping were carried out in front of foreign delegates, senior Air Force officials, media and public at Shanghumugam beach. Two Mi 17V5 helicopters, Garud commandoes and divers from the Indian Navy were also part of the exercise.
India's C-130J Hercules transport aircraft and AN-32 transport aircraft of Sri Lankan Air Force conducted HADR exercise over Arabian Sea, off the cost of Agatti.
Air Force showcased the ability of the disaster preparedness of Rapid Action Medical Team (RAMT) and the flying capabilities at the Air Force Station, Trivandrum.
All the participants were shown a mass casualty demonstration by Rapid Action Medical Team (RAMT) wherein mass causalities were attended to and evacuated by AN–32 aircraft highlighting the criticality of prompt medical attention in a disaster.
The RAMT of Indian Air Force is equipped with modern 25 bedded transportable tent based Medical Shelters which include ICU, Operation Theatre, X-Ray and Laboratory, which is capable of handling 100 Outpatients per day. The team was effectively deployed during various national and international HADR situations like Nepal earthquake in 2015. The RAMT also participated in the Naval exercise 'Milan-2018' at Port Blair just before joining exercise 'Samvedna' at Thiruvananthapuram.
As part of the exercise, fuel bridging to transfer aviation fuel and a static display of air assets were also showcased at Air Force Station. 'Samvedna' has enhanced HADR cooperation between Air Forces of five participating nations and is an initial step towards further refining capabilities to address disaster in the South Asian Region.
Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Southern Air Command in his closing address highlighted that the aim of the exercise was to share procedures and capabilities between Air Forces of the participating countries to improve response in a disaster. He emphasised that Air Forces were invariably the first responders during various disasters that hit the region in the recent times and 'Samvedna' was the first Multilateral Air Exercise to practice and discuss all related issues related to such eventualities.
In the wake of "Ockhi" and the recent Theni Forest fire, the Samvedana HADR exercise is of great significance and showcased the strength and preparedness of Indian Air Force for various HADR situations.
'Samvedana' aims to galvanize all stakeholders in synergizing the unified HADR efforts. The multilateral exercise being hosted by Southern Air Command provided understanding of scope, role and task, including challenges in air operations.
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations have attracted the attention of the global community in recent years. Distaster response is highly time sensitive and is a key activity to save lives and reduce human suffering. Both national and international communities have been investing in disaster response to prepare for eventualities and save precious lives. Though civilian authorities are mandated to carry out Humanitarian relief, however, to minimize the loss of human life, all resources including military assets are invariably employed.