Friday, October 30, 2009

Relationships a Common Theme during Chiefs of Defense Conference

Chiefs of Defense and/or their representatives from 23 nations discussed a broad range of common security challenges during the12th annual Chiefs of Defense Conference (CHOD) in Hawaii Oct. 26–29, but also took advantage of the time together to build on important relationships.

“First and foremost (the conference) is a mechanism for the chiefs of defense to establish relationships between themselves,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) during an Oct. 29 media event. “For these gentlemen to have personal relationships that allow them to pick up the telephone when a disaster occurs, and speak to a counterpart, and count on their mutual friendship to generate mutual action, was time and again discussed around the table.”

Common Security Challenges

Over the course of the conference discussions touched on broad topics such as Asia-Pacific Security trends, as well as specific issues such as the military implications of climate change and energy, and military and civilian disaster coordination.

The disaster relief discussions were large and in depth, Willard said, including a comprehensive overview of the response in the wake of last month’s tsunami in the South Pacific.

Relationships

“Being able to meet the people that we work with and discuss the arrangements we have, both formal and informal, which allowed to us achieve the good results that we have achieved with the series of recent disasters, has been extremely beneficial for us,” said New Zealand’s Vice Chief of Defence Force, Rear Adm. Jack Steer.

Rear Adm. Jean-Louis Vichot, joint commander of French Armed Forces in French Polynesia echoed these sentiments when discussing French support of relief efforts in Tonga, while New Zealand focused on Samoa. “It has been an example of our relations put in light by such disasters.”

Nations attending this year's conference included: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, France, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam, and the United States.

“Interpersonal relationships that are achieved in a week like this together with an exchange of information are very fulfilling,” Adm. Willard added.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

PACOM Signs Energy Strategy in Cooperation with State of Hawaii

U.S. Pacific Command, in cooperation with the state of Hawaii, released its strategy Oct. 23 for reducing dependence on fossil fuels and assisting in the development of alternative, renewable sources of energy.

Signed by Maj. Gen. Stephen Tom, PACOM’s chief of staff, the strategy defines PACOM’s commitment to help the state in efforts to rely on 70 percent clean energy by the year 2030.

The PACOM Energy Strategy Cooperation with the State of Hawaii is a first of its kind, linking a Department of Defense (DoD), Combatant Command with the Department of Energy and a state government energy plan.

The goal of PACOM "going green" is to reduce the taxpayers burden while reducing DoD reliance on fossil fuels, develop renewable energy sources, reduce greenhouse emissions, emphasize sustainability and exercise global environmental leadership.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Senior Leaders to Meet at Chiefs of Defense Conference

Senior military officers of 22 nations will gather in Hawaii next week for the 12th annual Chiefs of Defense Conference (CHOD), which is scheduled to run Oct. 26-29.

This year's conference is hosted by Adm. Robert Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command.

The purpose of the conference is to bring together senior military leaders from nations in the Asia-Pacific region to meet and discuss mutual security challenges, improve mutual relationships and foster security cooperation. The conference theme is Common Defense Challenges in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Nations attending this year's conference include: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, France, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam, and the United States.

Last year's conference was co-hosted by the U.S. and Indonesia, and held in Bali.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Timor-Leste Military Training Exercise Winding Down

U.S. Sailors and Marines have spent the past week off the coast and on shore in the Southeast Asia nation of Timor-Leste conducting training and other activities with the Timor-Leste Defense Force and Australian armed forces.

Marine Exercise, or MAREX, began Oct. 14 with the arrival of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) on board USS Bonhomme Richard. Since then, a variety of training activities have taken place, focused on areas such as basic infantry skills.

The exercise has also included a heavy emphasis on medical and engineering projects.

U.S. Navy medical professionals from 11th MEU have been assisting local healthcare workers in providing limited medical and dental care in the Maubara, Occussi and Laga areas. Marines also partnered with local government and education officials to repair a school in Maubara.

In the midst of the training, which included a noncombatant evacuation operation (NEO) drill with American citizens in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy, Sailors from Bonhomme Richard conducted several community service projects in Dili, donated medical and hygiene supplies, and participated in sporting events with their Timorese hosts.

On Oct. 17, President Jose Ramos-Jorta visited Bonhomme Richard and thanked Sailors and Marines for their efforts during the exercise.

MAREX follows closely on the heels of the first formal military-to-military talks between the U.S. and Timor-Leste, during which both sides agreed to expand military-to-military activities.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Willard Assumes Command of PACOM

Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard assumed command of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) Oct. 19, relieving Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating during a traditional ceremony at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

Hundreds of guests attended, included Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen.

See coverage by the American Forces Press Service, Stars and Stripes, Associated Press, and KITV.

Willard arrives from U.S. Pacific Fleet, where he served as the commander responsible for U.S. Navy operations throughout Asia-Pacific. He is now responsible for overseeing all U.S. military operations in the region, which encompasses about half the earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the U.S. to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole.

Keating, who took command of PACOM in March, 2007, is retiring from the Navy following more than 42 years of service, during which he served in a variety of Navy and joint leadership positions, including U.S. Northern Command.

There are few regions as culturally, socially, economically, and geo-politically diverse as the Asia-Pacific. The 36 nations that comprise the Asia-Pacific region are home to more than 50% of the world’s population, three thousand different languages, several of the world’s largest militaries, and five nations allied with the U.S. through mutual defense treaties. Two of the world’s three largest economies are located in the Asia-Pacific along with ten of the fourteen smallest.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

U.S, Indian Armies Take Training to Higher Level

Approximately 250 U.S. Soldiers and 17 Stryker vehicles are in India for the next two weeks and began a military training exercise Oct. 12 that is the first of its kind.

The exercise, called Yudh Abhyas, is an annual training event between the two armies, but this year is the first to include U.S. and Indian mechanized equipment and forces. In the past, the exercise has been limited to scenario-driven, commander-level exercises, explained U.S. Army Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commander of U.S. Army, Pacific in a recent American Forces Press Service article on the topic.

This year, the exercise includes a multi-echelon, full spectrum operation based on peacekeeping, according to a U.S. Army, Pacific news release. The exercise is designed to promote cooperation between the two armies through training, cultural and professional exchanges. Participants will be engaged in a variety of missions, from joint planning and execution, a variety of artillery ranges both in and out of vehicles, to cordon and search operations as well as search and rescue training. The exercise will end with a live fire demonstration involving the Stryker vehicle.

Exercises between the Indian and U.S. militaries continue to increase in scope and sophistication and are indicative of a positive and steadily improving relationship based on common interests in areas such as peacekeeping, counter-terrorism, and maritime security.

The 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, is representing the U.S. Army during the exercise.

Follow the exercise on U.S. Army, Pacific’s exercise website, and on Flicrk.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Arrival of Helicopters Speeds Indonesia Relief as Philippines Focus Shifts

USS Denver and USS McCampbell arrived off the coast of Padang, Indonesia in the early morning hours of Oct. 9 and their embarked helicopters were immediately put to use delivering needed supplies and assisting the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with assessments of remote areas. Meanwhile in the Philippines, just as U.S. military flood relief efforts in the capital of Manila were coming to an end Oct. 8, flooding farther north caused by a second storm resulted in a new request for military assistance.

Indonesia

As shown in a series of Associated Press photos, the first order of business for Marine Corps CH-53 helicopters was the delivery of more than 9,000 pounds of relief supplies to the remote mountain village of Koto Tingii Oct. 9. The delivery was coordinated by USAID. Navy SH-60 helicopters also flew, providing airlift for USAID officials, allowing them to survey outlying areas that have been difficult or impossible to reach since the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck west Sumatra Sept. 30.

Close coordination is taking place between U.S. military officials, the Indonesian Armed Forces, USAID and local leaders to schedule military airlift and other apply other military capabilities.

The Air Force Humanitarian Assistance Rapid Response Team (HARRT) field medical clinic is fully operational and 599 patients have received acute care or minor surgical procedures over the past three days.

Philippines

USS Harpers Ferry and USS Tortuga, along with members of III Marine Expeditionary Force, are now in the Lingayen Gulf, hours north of Manila. Mudslides and floods caused by Typhoon Parma earlier this week have left more than 100 dead in northern Luzon. They are working with their counterparts from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to build a plan for maximizing available Navy and Marine assets to provide assistance as needed.

Marines and Sailors spent the previous week in metro Manila providing relief in the wake of flooding from Tropical Storm Ketsana Sept. 26. They delivered more than 28,000 food packages coordinated by local businesses, provided basic medical services to more than 4,000, and cleared thousands of meters of roads and debris.

For a daily update that highlights ongoing relief efforts, see the fact sheet on the Disaster Relief page of the U.S. Pacific Command website.

For regular updates throughout the day, join U.S. Pacific Command on Twitter and Facebook.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Military Aid Effort Builds in Philippines, Set to Increase in Indonesia

Assistance to citizens in the Philippine capital of Manila and the surrounding area suffering from recent flooding damage has increased since the Oct. 3 arrival of the Navy’s USS Tortuga and USS Harpers Ferry and their embarked Marines. Meanwhile, an Air Force team arrived in Padang, Indonesia Oct. 5 and is setting up to provide medical care as three U.S. Navy ships make their way there to assist victims of the recent earthquake.

A Pacific Stars and Stripes story summarizes the on going effort to provide assistance in the aftermath of both disasters.

Philippines

Marines and Sailors from the III Marine Expeditionary Force and the ships Tortuga and Harpers Ferry continue their work to provide relief to victims of flooding brought on by Tropical Storm Ketsana on Sept. 26.

Since Oct. 1, more than 12,000 food packs, consisting of donations from local businesses and private organizations consolidated into bags for individual families by volunteers, have been delivered to various distribution points by the Marines and Sailors. They have also delivered hundreds of cases of water, as well as hundreds of bags of clothing.

While Marines have been using their heavy equipment and vehicles to clear debris on major roadways, Sailors have been conducting medical and dental clinics at various locations, providing medical care to more than 3,500 patients, and dental care to more than 200.

With the arrival of the ships and its additional resources, such as helicopters, the level of assistance in the Philippines is increasing. On Oct. 6, two Marine CH-46 helicopters transported 16,000 pounds of supplies to Talim Island, which lies in the middle of a large lake southeast of Manila, cut off from easy access.

Indonesia

Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, commander of the Navy’s amphibious forces in the region, has been in Indonesia for the past week leading a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team, and as he explained in an Associated press news story, the arrival of USS Denver, USS McCampbell, and USNS Richard E. Byrd in the next several days will bring a significant increase in capabilities to contribute to the relief effort ongoing since the 7.6 magnitude earthquake Sept. 30.

The ships, which are expected to arrive in the vicinity of Padang within the next several days, will bring seven helicopters with them in total, along with heavy equipment

An Air Force Humanitarian Assistance Rapid Response Team (HARRT) arrived in Padang on Oct. 5 and is coordinating with local officials and completing its set up that will ultimately provide the capacity for providing a variety of medical care to approximately 300 patients per day.

An Air Force C-130 aircraft that was already in Indonesia for a military exercise has been ferrying supplies such as rice, tents, generators and other emergency equipment to Padang from various locations in the country.

Relief operations in both Indonesia and the Philippines are in support of the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

PACOM to Provide Military Assistance to Indonesia Relief Operations

U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) will provide military support to Indonesia’s ongoing relief effort on the island of Sumatra.

A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck on Sept. 30, with the city of Padang and surrounding area, near the quake’s epicenter, experiencing widespread damage.

The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta has responded to the Indonesian President’s statement allowing friendly nations to provide earthquake assistance. Because of the forward deployed presence of the U.S. military and past military-to-military interactions with the Indonesian military, the U.S. is poised to help as much as possible.

PACOM has military capabilities positioned in the region that are ready to support emergency relief efforts and minimize human suffering. U.S. military assets include a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team (HAST) composed of personnel from various units within PACOM, an Air Force Humanitarian Assistance Rapid Response Team (HARRT), and the USS Denver with Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked.

As is typical in international relief operations, U.S. military efforts are in support of the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

PACOM will continue to work closely with the Indonesian Government, the U.S. Embassy, and international relief organizations of Indonesia on humanitarian assistance operations at the request and invitation of the Indonesian Government.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

PACOM Support of Philippines, American Samoa Relief Efforts Ongoing

Military forces from U.S. Pacific Command are supporting disaster relief efforts in both the Philippines and American Samoa.

Over the past two days, Pacific Air Forces C-17 aircraft have flown four missions, providing transport for approximately 100 Hawaii National Guard, FEMA personnel, and a variety of cargo, including vehicles, communications equipment, cots, blankets, and food in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Navy frigate USS Ingraham is also supporting FEMA’s efforts in American Samoa, having arrived yesterday, with its embarked helicopters already having allowed Governor Tulafono and FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer Kenneth J. Tingman to survey damage while also conducting a search and rescue mission.

Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD), based in Hawaii, is leading U.S. military support to FEMA in American Samoa.

In the Philippines, a group of approximately 75 Marines and Sailors from the III Marine Expeditionary Force, which is leading the military support effort there, began delivering relief supplies and providing basic medical care in metro Manila on Oct. 1 in partnership with Philippine authorities. They delivered nearly 2,500 family food packs and provided basic medical and dental services to more than 750 patients.

The USS Denver Amphibious Task Group is also on the way to the Philippines for a scheduled exercise with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and will be called upon to support the ongoing effort, and provide additional assistance if needed. The group includes the amphibious ships USS Denver, USS Harpers Ferry, and USS Tortuga.

In the Philippines, as is typical in international relief operations, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) efforts are in support of the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

U.S. Pacific command maintains significant capability forward deployed throughout the Asia-Pacific region ready to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and has a history of working with government agencies, international relief organizations, and host nations to reach those affected by natural disasters.

Follow U.S. Pacific Command’s support of ongoing relief efforts on the PACOM Website and share your thoughts with us on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.

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