Over July and August, the Bangladesh Army successfully led a major disaster relief exercise, involving 24 military and civilian agencies[i] on post-earthquake management at its Army War Game Center (AWGC), using MASA’s SWORD simulation software.
Three years ago, the Bangladesh Army adapted MASA SWORD, a complete war-gaming solution for armies around the world, and the Army’s AWGC, part of the Army Training and Doctrine Command (ARTDOC) has been using it extensively to plan, execute and analyze a wide variety of training missions. In addition to war-gaming, the Bangladeshi Army is using SWORD for an increasing number of risk management exercises, including several non-war crisis management exercises for military units.
This exercise, on a much larger scale and involving many more parties, was organized by the Army, who had a thorough understanding of the technology to implement a detailed and technical exercise.
As well as ensuring national security, the Army has a history of supporting the United Nations and providing aid to the civil authorities in the wake of natural disasters and has topped the league for the leading troop contributor, providing around 120,000 troops over 28 years. The customized version of SWORD trains the command staff to retain these core responsibilities and skills.
Among many other disasters, an earthquake is also a probability. Bangladesh has experienced a wide range of natural disasters. Fault lines located inside Bangladesh could cause devastating earthquakes, which have been identified as a serious future risk.
The exercise was designed to: identify gaps and challenges in disaster preparedness and response planning, enhance knowledge on laid down procedures, improve ability to respond to emergency, develop cohesive team work, and enable efficient perception management.
Planning for the exercise began in July. MASA experts worked with the Army to create relevant missions for the natural disaster. The Army also worked with participating organizations to ensure up-to-date data, equipment, mapping and resources were integrated into SWORD.
The evolution of SWORD over time has enabled it to be adapted for many different aspects of soldiers’ missions from the classic symmetrical warfare to the management of internal enemies, whether they are terrorists or natural calamities. The Bangladesh Army, who regularly uses SWORD, has used its technical expertise to maximize on the variety of uses the software can provide, and have been able to manipulate it to work for civilian, military and multi-organizational exercises. For this exercise, they also integrated other dimensions into the training, including live demonstrations of engineering units when they have had to search for victims in building debris, taking the functionality of SWORD beyond what was provided to them.
The exercise took place on 5-9th August. MASA was on-hand throughout the exercise to provide technical support. The After-Action Review ensured that lessons learned were understood by all those who participated in the exercise.
Brigadier General Md Tofayel Ahmed, psc, director AWGC, said: “Bangladesh sits in a very sensitive spot geographically and is exposed to a range of weather-related natural disasters. We are particularly concerned about how the country would deal with a large earthquake. We needed to learn how all the different agencies could work together effectively should this occur, and what likely difficulties and obstacles we might face. Using SWORD, we were able to identify the risks and begin to work together as a larger team to overcome what would be a country-wide disaster.
“The preparedness for such disaster is key to saving lives. Some events cannot be avoided, so we must be prepared to face them. In such situations military and the civilians should work together.”
MASA will continue to support the AWGC with maintenance and development of its customized version of SWORD, the Army War Game Simulation System (AWGSS), as well as during further exercises that the Army conducts. MASA recently announced the renewal of its contract with the Army for a further five years.
[i] About the Exercise
Participation from the following organisations:
Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief; Ministry of Home Affairs; Armed Force Division (AFD); Bangladesh Army; Bangladesh Navy; Bangladesh Air Force; Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB); Fire Service and Civil Defence (FSCD); Ansar and VDP; Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh National Cadet Corps (BNCC); Bangladesh Scouts; Department of Disaster Management (DDM); Department of Public Health; Public Works Department (PWD); Roads and Highway Department; Bangladesh Roads and Transport Corporation; Bangladesh Telecommunication and Regulatory Commission; DC Office, Dhaka; Civil Surgeon’s Office, Dhaka; Rajdhani Unnayon Kortipokkho (RAJUK); Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC); Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA); Dhaka Electric Supply Authority (DESA); Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited (DESCO); Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL); Red Crescent, Bangladesh; Anjuman Mofidul Islam.