US, Chinese soldiers find common ground in disaster drills

CAMP RILEA ARMED FORCES TRAINING CENTER, Ore. (AP) — Military units from two seemingly unlikely partners have carried out a joint response to a natural disaster on a base along the Oregon coast.

It was only a drill, but roughly 100 soldiers from China and the U.S. and their top commanders are ready to use what they learned in a real disaster.

The commander of U.S. Army-Pacific said Sunday — the last day of the exercise — that carrying out joint disaster responses shouldn’t depend on the state of relations between the two world powers. Gen. Robert Brown says the participants found a common interest in saving lives.

Maj. Gen. Zhang Jian, a senior Chinese commander who visited Oregon, said the disaster exercises evolved from academic discussions to boots on the ground in the last few years. The countries host them in alternate years.