The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the German military (Bundeswehr) will hold a joint medical military exercise, dubbed Combined Aid 2016, in Chongqing, a city in Southwest China from October 17 to 29, according to a Bundeswehr press release.
Combined Aid 2016 will be the first time that German troops will conduct a military exercise on Chinese territory. The Bundeswehr is dispatching 38 members of the German Army’s medical service, whereas the PLA will be present with around 100 soldiers.
In detail, the Bundeswehr is dispatching three so-called rescue detachments including armored ambulances and a Role 1 medical treatment facility providing first aid and immediate life-saving measures including resuscitation and stabilization for onward casualty evacuation.
According to China Military Online, the PLA contingent will also consist of a medical treatment facility, two field ambulances, a field epidemic prevention vehicle, one medical evacuation helicopter, tele-medicine systems, and other medical equipment.
The training scenario is that an imaginary country is hit by a mega-earthquake and a number of aftershocks resulting in a large number of dead and thousands of injured people. The water supply has broken down and epidemics begin to spread.
In response, the PLA and Bundeswehr are dispatching forces to the disaster zone to jointly undertake medical rescue operations. Chinese and German medical teams will coordinate their efforts, provide first-aid and also conduct epidemic prevention operations in the quake hit areas.
“This joint exercise will help China and Germany to deepen the exchange between their militaries, enhance their pragmatic cooperation on humanitarian assistance and military medicine, and improve their medical rescue and assistant capabilities in jointly coping with emergent disasters,” China Military Online notes.
The exercise will take place on the premises of Third PLA Military Medical University in Chongqing. Up until now, the focus of PLA-Bundeswehr cooperation lay on consultations and exchanging medical expertise. “From these contacts emerged the idea back in May 2013 to hold a joint exercise,” Lieutenant Colonel Hans-Hennig Bendel, a staff officer with the Bundeswehr medical service explained, according to the press release.
The German equipment is currently en route to China via naval transport.
Sichuan province, which borders Chongqing to the west, was the site of one of China’s most devastating earthquakes. In 2008, the so-called Great Sichuan earthquake resulted in almost 70,000 confirmed dead and around 400,000 injured. Over 18,000 people are still missing.
“To this day, the PLA prides itself on providing disaster relief to Chinese people in times of need, by which it burnishes its image while contributing to the national economy,” The Diplomat contributor Ben Lowsen wrote in a recent article (See: “What Every Chinese Soldier Knows Part 4: Rescue!”).