Naval War College, Yale Partner on First-of-Kind Humanitarian Simulation

Story Number: NNS170419-13Release Date: 4/19/2017 2:30:00 PM
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From U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (NNS) -- Faculty members from Yale University's School of Medicine, School of Public Health, and U.S. Naval War College's (NWC) Civilian-Military Humanitarian Response Program conducted the first-ever "Consequences of Disease Outbreak" simulation in New Haven, April 12.

Nearly 30 students participated in a two-hour, multi-move simulation, which focused on challenges posed in the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane in Central America.

For the simulation, students and faculty assumed roles as U.S. government and Navy representatives, national emergency management agencies, a major humanitarian nongovernmental organization (NGO), and emergency and public health interests.

An outbreak of cholera allowed students in the simulation to work on coordinating competing interests and limited resources.

"The unfolding cholera outbreak in disparate areas of the country provided students with a contextual opportunity to practice emergency medical response while facing competing demands for limited medical, public health, and security resources," said Dr. Hani Mowafi, assistant professor of emergency medicine and chief, section of Global Health and International Emergency Medicine at Yale.

A large floor map depicted the geography of Central America in the simulated hurricane-impacted region, and included physical models of U.S. Navy ships and aircraft.

Cmdr. Agustin Pajaro, Chilean navy and NWC international fellow, played the role of host nation emergency management director and added local perspective to the simulation.

Pajaro emphasized the importance of the host nation serving as the lead coordinating entity for all United States and humanitarian NGO response efforts. In his role, Pajaro also provided students with an understanding of how the U.S. Navy and other key entities would interact in a complex civilian-military environment.

In the simulation, the impacts of cholera were felt across the country and limited response capabilities led to security issues, allowing students to experience "the challenges posed by the lack of formal interaction between humanitarian and military pandemic entities," said Dr. Kaveh Khoshnood, associate professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health. "This is an important learning point, and one that was underscored at last year's Civilian-Military Humanitarian Response Workshop held at the Naval War College in Newport last October."

This simulation is the second in a series of follow-on events stemming from that original workshop's recommendations. That workshop featured a Pandemics Working Group composed of key stakeholders from the humanitarian assistance arena, ranging from the Yale University to prominent international bodies and U.S. government agencies and NGOs.

NWC members taking part in the event included Operational Level Programs faculty members Dave Polatty, director of NWC's Civilian-Military Humanitarian Response Program; Hank Brightman, simulation designer; Tony Fox; Sean Henseler; and Lt. Marshall Kraft.

NWC is an upper-level professional military education institution that includes a one-year resident program that graduates 600 resident students a year, and a multifaceted distance education program that graduates more than 1,000 students per year. Students earn Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) credit and either a diploma or a master's degree in National Security and Strategic Studies or Defense and Strategic Studies. Established in 1884, NWC is the oldest institution of its kind in the world. More than 50,000 students have graduated since its first class of nine students in 1885 and about 300 of today's active duty admirals, generals and senior executive service leaders are alumni.

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Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), addresses U.S. Naval War College (NWC) students on the role of USSTRATCOM and 21st-century deterrence during a visit to NWC in Newport, Rhode Island.
Official U.S. Navy file photo.
April 18, 2017
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