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Army February 2, 2012
AUSTRALIA is to take part in the
first joint exercise in non-combat-
ant evacuation operations (NEO)
coordinated by the 12-nation NEO
Coordination Group (NCG).
The exercise will be hosted by the
Republic of Cyprus (RoC) in October
this year and incorporated into its
annual Exercise Argonaut.
The exercise aims to better pre-
pare RoC organisations and partici-
pating nations to manage a crisis in
the Middle East region.
This includes testing RoC Plan
Estia, which defines the handling
and management of large numbers
of evacuees to Cyprus during a crisis.
Participation in Argonaut fol-
lows an expanding desire for coop-
eration achieved at the 22nd NCG
Conference held in Sydney during
November last year.
US Air Force exchange officer at
HQJOC Lt-Col James Burton said
a primary lesson from the confer-
ence was the need for burden sharing
between nations during NEO and a
need for collaborative planning.
He said the 2006 operation in
Lebanon and the evacuations in North
Africa last year had both given impe-
tus for a renewed emphasis on multi-
national cooperation for the evacua-
tion of non-combatant personnel.
"An advantage of burden shar-
ing is the potential for economies of
scale and the creation of efficiencies
while hopefully avoiding things like
ADF to join crisis exercise
Twelve nations aim to improve non-combatant evacuation procedures with first joint training activity
competitive bidding," Lt-Col Burton
The annual exercise in Cyprus
deals with an identical scenario to the
evacuation from Lebanon.
Australia received an invitation
in December to participate in the
exercise as part of an NCG non-com-
batant evacuation coordination cell
A NEOCC is established to allow
liaison officers from respective NCG
member nations to coordinate, share
and deconflict assets to bridge indi-
vidual nations' capability gaps and to
Lt-Col Burton said Cyprus agreed
to host a NEOCC which would inte-
grate directly with each participating
nation's military and foreign affairs
organisations and indirectly with
the EU's European External Action
Service Situation Centre.
"That way we can work with our
own individual national chain while
liaising with other NEOCC partici-
pating nations to work out any issues
and make a better plan, both at an
individual nation level and collective-
ly as members of the NCG," he said.
The NCG meets twice-yearly to
discuss ideas on the conduct of evac-
uation operations and to update mem-
ber countries on points of contact and
In an emergency situation, the
NCG member country best placed to
host or coordinate the NEOCC will
generally be the NEOCC lead nation.
The expectation is that should
an emergency develop in a country
within Australia's immediate region,
Australia would potentially lead the
NEOCC and facilitate the central
Meanwhile the other member
nations would extract nationals from
the country in crisis.
Recent evacuation: An Army aircrewman guides local residents to a waiting Black Hawk helicopter at the Laidley Sports Ground for transfer to
Laidley hospital to escape rising flood waters during Operation Queensland Flood Assist in January 2011.
Photo by PO Damian Pawlenko
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