Centcom to hold high-tech disaster relief exercise

The Defense Department's Central Command, which oversees U.S. defense and security interests in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, plans to hold in May a major computer-based disaster relief effort in the Republic of Kazakhstan, one of five Southeast Asia countries recently added to the command's area of responsibility.

The exercise in Almaty, Kazakhstan, will focus on improving mutual planning, information sharing and interregional emergency response systems in the event of a catastrophic earthquake in a large city.

Other U.S. partners that will take part in the exercise include the Arizona National Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and civilian emergency officials from Arizona, Montana, Nevada and Louisiana.

Word of the exercise comes after officials from Centcom and the National Guard in January attended an international computer orientation workshop in Phoenix focused on identifying emerging information technologies that may offer developing countries solutions to managing natural disasters.

The exercise will be conducted under the auspices of the Partnership for Peace Program, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization program designed to enhance security and defense cooperation between NATO and non-NATO nations.

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