Friday, May 29, 2009

PACOM Commander Joins Defense Leaders at Shangri-La Dialogue

Senior defense officials and leaders from throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm. Timothy Keating, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, have gathered in Singapore May 29-31 for the eighth annual Asian Security Summit.

The “Shangri-La Dialogue” as it is better known, provides a forum for bilateral meetings between defense ministers and officials, as well as a number of plenary sessions, covering a variety of topics such as “U.S. Security Role in the Asia Pacific,” and “The Major Powers and Asian Security: Cooperation or Conflict?”

According to the event’s website, 27 countries have been invited to participate. The keynote address will be delivered by Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

During the event, Adm. Keating is meeting individually with several defense chiefs and senior military leaders from nations throughout the region, including New Zealand, Australia, India, Japan and the Philippines.

Forums such as the Shangri-la Dialogue play an important role in bringing leaders together to discuss and debate security issues of mutual concern, strengthen and expand relationships with allies and partners, and provide opportunities for increasing understanding -- and cooperation -- between participants.

Singapore (May 29, 2009) – Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and Lt. Gen. Rodrigo Maclang, Vice Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines, pose following a a bilateral discussion during the Asian Security Summit.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Community Outreach Expands CARAT Partnership

While Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen participating in Exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) have a primary focus of increasing interoperability between U.S. and Southeast Asia navies, they also take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate their roles as global citizens.

The exercise series kicked off May 21 in the Philippines, and members took some time to participate in a number of community outreach projects.

Exercises like CARAT foster not only bilateral partnership between the participating nations, but also partnerships with the citizens of the visited countries. Each plays an important role in building trust and ultimately contributing to security and stability in the region.

Articles in the Philippine Inquirer and on the Exercise CARAT Web site highlighted some of the outreach projects the service members participated in during the Philippine Phase of the exercise. These projects focused on medical, dental and engineering outreach. Both U.S. and Philippine service members painted homes, delivered education and athletic materials to schools, and provided medical, dental and optometry care to more than 800 citizens.

CARAT will include similar events in other participating nations, which include Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Remembering Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice

Monday, service members, families, veterans and U.S. citizens around the world will take time out of their day to honor people who made the ultimate sacrifice. For those who have lost friends and comrades through the years, Memorial Day is a chance to remember last conversations, special moments, and times that we knew our brethren were willing to go above and beyond to accomplish the mission and protect the rest of us.

In his Memorial Day message to the troops, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen highlighted the sacrifice of Tech. Sgt. Phillip Myers, who died April 4 disarming an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Myers is one of many service members who gave his life so that others may live.

Nearly 100,000 U.S. service members have died in combat in the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) area of responsibility (AOR) since the 1871 Korean Expedition. Many of these service members were killed in the Vietnam and Korean Wars. Many others were labeled “missing in action.”

For the men and women responsible for bringing the remains of the missing-in-action home, Memorial Day takes on a special meaning.

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which is a direct reporting unit to USPACOM, works on a daily basis to help recover and repatriate the remains of these missing service members. Nearly every year, a representative from the command, which is based at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, travels to Washington, D.C. to provide an update to the thousands who gather at the National Mall to honor our fallen.

Many who gather there are veterans themselves. Many served in Vietnam or Korea, and they live every day with the memories of their brothers-in-arms. The annual visit to the memorials in Washington, D.C., provides the veterans a chance to formally honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation.

While we honor the men and women who went before us, thousands more serve every day in the Asia-Pacific region to contribute to security and stability. The presence maintained by the men and women of USPACOM serves as deterrent to conflict, so the families and veterans of previous conflicts know that the loss of their loved ones and friends was not in vain.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Southeast Asia Exercise Series Seeks to Enhance Cooperation

The first phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), a three-month series of bilateral military exercises between the U.S. Navy and the armed forces of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore, began this week in the Philippines.

CARAT, which is anchored by a four-ship U.S. Navy task group, is focused on enhancing maritime skills and operational readiness in a variety of areas, including maritime interception. While the operational training in each phase varies based on the desires of the host nation, common to each phase is an emphasis on information sharing, and collaboration during planning and execution.

Indonesia participates in a similar exercise, a Naval Engagement Activity (NEA).

Each phase of CARAT includes a number of outreach projects in local communities by Sailors and Marines and their exercise counterparts. Some phases include medical, dental and engineering assistance.

As reported by the Cebu Daily News and the Philippine Information Agency, routine medical and dental assistance will be provided in a number of areas in Cebu during the Philippines phase.

The CARAT Task Group consists of USS Harpers Ferry, USS Chung Hoon, USS Chafee, and USS Crommelin. USS John S. McCain, USS Russell, and USNS Safeguard will participate in designated phases.

In its 15th year, CARAT is an enduring example of U.S. Pacific Command’s emphasis on a cooperative approach to addressing common challenges and threats, such as maritime security.

Keep up with the exercise series on the CARAT website.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Adm. Keating Discusses Goals, Benefits of PACOM Strategy

In a recent interview with the American Forces Press Service, Adm. Timothy J. Keating, PACOM’s commander, explained how PACOM’s Strategy is making a difference across the vast Pacific Command area of responsibility (AOR).

Built on the tenets of partnership, readiness and presence, the strategy is a long-term plan for ensuring the command honors its U.S. commitments, and underscores the fundamental importance of sustained and persistent cooperation and collaboration.

“We’ve got big countries and we’ve got small countries [within the AOR],” Adm. Keating said during the interview. “And as we travel and talk and watch and work with the folks of Tonga through Mongolia to India and everybody in between, we are seeing firsthand that they are all interested” in working together toward common goals.”

He draws on numerous examples, such as the recently completed Malabar naval exercise that included India, Japan and the U.S., to explain how the strategy is working to build bonds, regional capacity, and ultimately “defend the homeland and prevail in the struggle against violent extremism.”

Adm. Keating said he is convinced the strategy is working, noting the relative peace in the region.“In a way, it’s what hasn’t happened,” he said. “Some of that is good fortune. But a lot of it is due to a concerted effort by a lot of people, including those at Pacific Command.”

The PACOM Strategy is available for viewing and download at


Sunday, May 17, 2009

JSOTF-P Supports AFP Counter-terrorism Efforts

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and members of the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P) are focusing on supporting the efforts of the AFP to root out terrorist safe havens in the Southern Philippines, as highlighted by Pacific Stars and Stripes.

JSOTF-P comprises approximately 600 U.S. service members who work as a non-combatant advisory group to the Philippine armed forces in their effort to eliminate terrorism in their country. The task force uses subject matter expert exchanges to help increase the capacity of the Philippine armed forces.

The task force also focuses on providing humanitarian assistance to Filipino communities. In 2008, JSOTF-P assisted in more than 70 civic action projects in the country.

Partnership between JSOTF-P and the AFP has helped to improve the capability of the AFP as well as helped to improve the lives of the local Filipino community in which they work.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

PACOM Commander Highlights U.S.-India Relations

During his visit to India this week, Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), highlighted the cooperation between the U.S. and Indian militaries in an editorial for the India Express.

This editorial attributes the mutually and regionally beneficial relationship to direct coordination between PACOM and Indian forces and notes how this ongoing partnership, which supports the PACOM strategy, can continue to grow with future engagements.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Disaster Relief Exercise Enhances Cooperative Relationships

Civilians and military personnel from the Republic of the Philippines, Papua-New Guinea, Australia and the U.S teamed up for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum Voluntary Demonstration of Response on Disaster Relief (ARF-VDR DR) from May 4-8.

This was the first field exercise for the forum, and it aimed to enhance cooperative relationships, test response processes for disaster relief and improve critical infrastructure. The location was chosen due to the large amount of residents who were displaced by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. Because of their location and distance from major cities, regular health care is not easily accessible.

The exercise included the setting up temporary medical facilities and building schoolrooms and bridges to allow disaster officials to practice damage assessment.

Along with the medical projects, the field exercise involved engineering projects like reconstructing buildings and building covered walkways for local elementary schools. There were also demonstrations of air, land and maritime capabilities.

The ARF-VDR is an activity designed to prepare international civilian humanitarian assistance and military teams to work together in the event of a natural disaster or other crises that impact the health and safety of the population. The four-day exercise enhances the ability of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum to develop tangible outcomes for disaster relief and transnational security cooperation.

As part of its overall strategy of partnership, readiness and presence, U.S. Pacific Command further supports regional and professional exchanges like ARF-VDR on DR that contribute to capacity building and collaboration.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Okinawa Marine’s Deployment to Philippines Yields Unexpected Realizations

A commentary by Cpl. Heather Golden in the May 8 edition of the Okinawa Marine newspaper highlights an important aspect of U.S. Pacific Command’s military exercise program.

As a result of her participation in exercise Balikatan in April, Cpl. Golden bonded with a Filipino child and made other friends, as well. Her commentary shares her insights on the experience, learning that “people are the same wherever you go.”

Strategic aims such as maintaining a robust military capability, deterring military aggression, developing cooperative security arrangements, and expanding relationships with allies and partners are pillars of the Pacific Command (PACOM) strategy. At the end of the day, though, individual Marines like Cpl. Golden and her fellow service members are the faces and personalities of this strategy, and execute it at the tactical level, daily during exercises and other military-to-military engagements throughout the PACOM area of responsibility.

Partnership, readiness, and presence covers a wide spectrum, with the benefits of such reaching all the way down to the individual service member.

Cpl. Golden’s commentary can also be viewed on the Digital Video & Imagery Distribution System website.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Former Piracy Hot Spot Sees Significant Decline in Attacks

As part of an ongoing series of reports focused on battling piracy around the world, National Public Radio (NPR) highlighted successes in the Strait of Malacca during its May 7 “Morning Edition” broadcast.

The report highlights the coordinated efforts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, noting that information sharing and coordinated patrols of the strait -- where more than one-quarter of the world’s traded goods and approximately one-third of world’s oil pass yearly – are now common. Reported cases of piracy have dropped drastically over the past five years as a result of this cooperation, from 38 in 2004 down to two in 2008.

Columnist Richard Halloran reported in a May 3 article that according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), only one piracy incident was reported in the Strait of Malacca during the first quarter of 2009.

As both the NPR broadcast and Halloran article mention, the U.S. has provided funding for equipment and technology initiatives in support of the effort to keep the Strait of Malacca safe for international shipping.

As part of its strategy of partnership, readiness and presence, U.S. Pacific Command further supports this regional effort through frequent maritime exercises and professional exchanges that contribute to capacity building and collaboration.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

USFK English Camp Expands Relationship with Youth

U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has announced the latest iteration of its Good Neighbor English Camp. The initiative, part of USFK’s Good Neighbor Program, will immerse a group of 65 Korean high school sophomores in an English-speaking environment through military briefings, visits to USFK installations and with U.S. service members, and by attending U.S. high school classes.

As noted in USFK’s May 4 announcement, a “Sharp Point” issued by Gen. Walter L. Sharp, USFK’s commander, the program is designed to positively impact future Korean leaders by introducing them to USFK’s mission and role through organized, interactive and educational activities. During the camp the students live with American families.

The Good Neighbor program and other such outreach efforts throughout the Pacific Command area of responsibility serve to strengthen and expand relationships between the U.S. and its partners and allies.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Regional Disaster Relief Exercise Brings Nations Together for Common Good

More than 20 Asia-Pacific nations will take part in a four-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum (ARF) disaster relief exercise May 4-8 in Central Luzon, Philippines.

The civilian-led, military supported ARF Voluntary Demonstration of Response (ARF-VDR) is co-sponsored by the Republic of the Philippines and the U.S. Of the 20 countries taking part, 12 will provide equipment and personnel, according to the Philippines National Disaster Coordinating Council. Delegates are scheduled to attend from a variety of Southeast Asia nation, as well as others from throughout Asia-Pacific and the European Union.

The ARF-VDR is designed to display ARF nations’ civil and military disaster response capabilities.

As announced by the U.S. Department of State, following a hypothetical super-typhoon, participating countries will offer assistance in response to a Philippine Government request for international humanitarian relief. Areas of demonstration include land, air and maritime search and rescue, medical assistance/evacuation and engineering reconstruction.

Joint civil-military projects, to which a small number of U.S. service members will contribute support, include reconstruction of a school building, construction of a bridge, installation of a water system and medical services for approximately 8,000 Filipinos in the Central Luzon area.

The ARF-VDR is a strong example of international cooperation between a variety of nations and agencies to enhance and develop capabilities that can benefit the entire region – an ideal shared and fostered by U.S. Pacific Command.

Keep up with the ARF-VDR on the Philippine Information Agency’s page for the event, as well as the Asia-Pacific Area Network (APAN) ARF-VDR site.


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