NEWS | May 3, 2016

Retired three-star admiral, ambassador assist NATO military, government agencies in flood exercise

By Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond 7th Mission Support Command

PAPA AIR BASE, Hungary -- Retired Vice Admiral Michael LeFever and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates David Litt are mentoring and assisting participants in understanding the roles that military and civilian components play in the exercise.

During the exercise, Litt and LeFever will serve as senior advisors for Brig. Gen. Arlan DeBlieck, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 7th Mission Support Command, based in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Working as senior mentors, they will use their personal experiences to oversee the scenarios for Anakonda Response 2016, a joint-service, multinational exercise that includes military and government civilians from Hungary, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Exercise Anakonda Response 2016 is a training exercise based on the catastrophic Hungarian flood in 2010. The 7th MSC mission planners not only used the historical event as a basis for the drill, they also solicited input and partnership from the Hungarian military.

“It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to be a senior mentor for this exercise,” said LeFever. “You learn so much from having the real-world experience. And I have not only once, but twice, led a joint task force in support of a real world humanitarian assistance disaster relief.”

In 2005 and 2006, LeFever was assigned as commander of the Disaster Assistance Center in Pakistan, working to coordinate U.S. military assistance during an earthquake that registered a magnitude of 7.6. In 2010, he served as the senior defense representative at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, leading the U.S. military response to the Indus River flooding, which affected 17 million people.

The exercise will bring combine extensive disaster response training with lessons learned from real-world experience – both military and civilian.

“I was honored to be asked to participate in this exercise to give a civilian perspective to a humanitarian affairs scenario, where by its nature, the military are going to be not only interacting with civilians, but under the authority of civilians,” said Litt. “There’s a subordinate relationship, and I think it is valuable for military practitioners and those in this exercise to understand the perspective of those civilians. And that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

During his introductory remarks, the admiral highlighted a principal element of U.S. military humanitarian relief efforts: the US. Military will play a supportive role, maintaining a “small footprint” while working at the direction of the host nation and U.S. chiefs of mission at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

“The [U.S] military is the 911 force,” said LeFever.

Organizations like the United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Disaster Assistance Response Team, and non-governmental organizations must be allowed, “to take effect as soon as possible and get the military footprint out of view to be able to provide that response,” he said.

In March, LeFever met with the 7th MSC at the unit’s home station. During the visit, the 7th MSC staff briefed him about the command and the upcoming exercise.

“In the end, in an event like this, it’s about saving lives and providing assistance to those that are in need,” LeFever said.