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.


“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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