Thursday, July 30, 2009

HELP Course Prepares International Participants to Respond to Humanitarian Disasters

(Submitted by Dr. Ruth Bessinger, HELP Course Coordinator for the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance)

For the thirteenth year in a row, the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) and the International Committee of the Red Cross are collaborating on a course in Honolulu, Hawaii. This course, Health Emergencies in Large Populations (HELP), equips participants with the information and tools to plan and manage a response to humanitarian disasters.

The course, held July 13-30, attracted twenty-four participants from ten different countries including Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal, Tonga, Thailand, and the U.S., half of which are in the military. Most are doctors and nurses and many hold senior-level positions in their countries’ ministry of health or armed forces, or work for non-governmental organizations. Among the participants are the Chief of the Health Emergency Preparedness Division in the Philippines, and a delegate from the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent in China.

The topics covered in the course are diverse and include water and sanitation, food and nutrition, communicable disease, mental health, humanitarian law, civilian-military coordination, and working with the media. As part of one exercise, HELP course participants built an emergency shelter using materials that are similar to those that refugees may receive during a humanitarian emergency.

Participants have shared their experiences responding to the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and Thailand and last year’s earthquake in China, working with refugees in Liberia and displaced persons in northern Thailand, and while conducting civil-military operations in Iraq.

(COE is a direct reporting unit to the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) and its principal organization for promoting disaster preparedness in the Asia-Pacific region. COE partners with a wide variety of national and international governmental, non-governmental and international organizations to provide relevant education, training, interagency coordination and research. In addition, the improvement of humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities is a common challenge that continues to provide a framework for numerous military exercises and professional exchanges throughout the PACOM area of responsibility.)


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

PACOM Commander Briefs at Foreign Press Center

The state of military relations between the U.S. and China was the primary topic of discussion July 28 when Adm. Timothy J. Keating spoke with a group of more than 30 international reporters at the Foreign Press Center in Washington D.C.

Adm. Keating, PACOM’s commander, emphasized the importance of the renewal of a dialogue between U.S. and Chinese military officials, which will happen within the next several months during an upcoming Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) session. The MMCA is a forum designed for talks aimed at promoting safety in naval and air operations.

An American Forces Press Service story highlights Adm. Keating’s comments, including his hope that the military relationship with China will extend to include humanitarian and disaster relief exercise, personnel exchanges, information-sharing on counterterrorism techniques and procedures, and observation of bilateral and multilateral exercises.

Adm. Keating also fielded questions on several other topics, including the state of the U.S. alliance with Japan, which he said “…remains powerful, vibrant and at the centerpiece of all our strategies in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Admiral opened his briefing with a review of the PACOM Strategy and its tenets of partnership, readiness and presence, and once again held up Pacific Partnership as an example of the application of the strategy.

View video coverage of the 25-minute exchange here on the blog, on the PACOM website, or on the Pentagon Channel.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Air Combat Training Underway in Singapore Skies

The final 2009 iteration of exercise Commando Sling in Singapore began July 20 and runs for another week. The exercise allows U.S. units to sharpen their air combat skills, improve procedures and readiness, and enhance relationships with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF).

Hawaii Air National Guard (ANG) F-15 Eagles are representing the U.S. in this, the fourth Commando Sling exercise of the fiscal year. The ANG pilots are conducting dissimilar air combat training with the RSAF, in which different types of aircraft fly air-to-air missions against each other. U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force units have also participated this year.

Commando Sling, an annual Pacific Air Forces exercise series, began in 1990 to provide air combat training for the U.S. Air Force and RSAF.

Military exercises are an important component of U.S. Pacific Command’s commitment to working with allies and friends to enhance stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Each exercise, while differing in scope and intent, contributes to the enhanced readiness of the participating forces, as well as their mutual cooperation and understanding.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Adm. Keating Addresses National League of POW/MIA Families

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, delivered the keynote address at the National League of POW/MIA Families 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting in Arlington, Va., July 23.

As highlighted in an American Forces Press Service news story following the event, Adm. Keating emphasized that nothing is more important than the fullest possible accounting of those missing as a result of the nation’s past conflicts and that the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command works tirelessly doing so.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes, with appropriate support, to have you reach some sort of conclusion in your minds and in your hearts as to where your loved one is,” Adm. Keating told the group. “We’re not going to rest.”

View Adm. Keating’s full address here on the blog, or on the Pentagon Channel.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

PACOM Commander Briefs Pentagon Press Corps

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), discussed the PACOM Strategy and current Asia-Pacific security topics July 22 during a Department of Defense news briefing at the Pentagon.

Drawing on a number of ongoing activities in the PACOM area of responsibility, Adm. Keating emphasized the PACOM Strategy’s tenets of partnership, readiness and presence. Operations such as Pacific Partnership and the ongoing bilateral exercise Talisman Saber with ally Australia were shared as examples of U.S. commitment to the region, not only on bilateral military-to-military levels, but on a multilateral, multi-agency basis as well.

During a question and answer period, Adm. Keating addressed a number of topics. He expressed his hope for more frequent and robust dialog with the Chinese military, as well as hope that diplomatic efforts will result in North Korea’s return to the Six-Party Talks while noting that PACOM keeps a watchful eye on the situation.

View the entire news briefing here on the blog, or on the Pentagon Channel website.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Multiple Pacific Partnership Projects Ongoing in Tonga

As the mission team took a break with their hosts this past Sunday at the midway point of the 13-day Pacific Partnership mission Tonga, multiple engineering projects were ahead of schedule, with further medical, dental, and veterinary outreach on tap for the remainder of the visit.

As noted in a weekend update on the Pacific Partnership Facebook Page, the multinational team made up of Tongans, Australians, New Zealanders and Americans, are ahead of schedule on their engineering projects, which include repairs and enhancements at schools, a community center, and a medical clinic.

The Pacific Partnership website provides an overview of the type of work being done at each location during the mission in Tonga. Roof and floor replacements are a couple of examples of the projects designed to increase structural integrity and quality in the various locations.

While the engineers were going about their business through the first week of the Tonga mission, a number of other efforts were underway. For instance, while the multinational medical and dental team was seeing 300 or more patients per day, veterinarians were working with local farmers, the preventive medicine team was teaching food safety courses, biomedical technicians were repairing hospital equipment, and the band and various mission team members took part in community service and outreach activities.

Pacific Partnership is the U.S. Navy’s dedicated humanitarian and civic assistance mission conducted with and through partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. and international government agencies to execute a variety of humanitarian civic action missions in the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility.

This year, Pacific Partnership includes stops in five nations in the South Pacific. In addition to Tonga and the first mission stop in Samoa, outreach and assistance is still to follow in the Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, and Kiribati.

Follow the mission on the Pacific Partnership website, which includes links to the mission's numerous social media sites.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Pacific Angel Humanitarian Mission Underway in Timor Leste, Indonesia

U.S. Air Force and Army members are partnering with local military and civilian authorities in Timor Leste and Indonesia to provide medical, dental, and engineering assistance as part of Operation Pacific Angel.

The 2009 edition of Pacific Angel began July 15 with the establishment of clinics in Dili, Timor Leste and Naioni, Indonesia.

More than three hundred patients received basic services at both locations in the initial days of the mission, as noted in news stories highlighting activities in Dili and Naioni. Care includes general medicine, optometry and dentistry services. Subject Matter Expert Exchanges (SMEEs) are also scheduled in topic areas such as infection control and basic life support.

The operation also consists of several military assistance programs such as aeromedical evacuation subject matter expert exchanges.

Pacific Angel, a Pacific Air Forces operation led by 13th Air Force, is conducted annually in the U.S. Pacific Command's area of responsibility. The mission brings basic services to those in need, while building important civil-military relationships and regional awareness of the personnel involved.

Keep up with Pacific Angel on the 13th Air Force website and the PACAF Pixels blog.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

U.S., Malaysia Exercise Peacekeeping Skills During Keris Strike

Malaysian and U.S. Soldiers are working together to enhance peace support and stability operations skill sets during exercise Keris Strike, which began July 13 in Malaysia.

The exercise, sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) and hosted by the Malaysian Army, is a combined brigade level staff exercise based on a United Nations peace enforcement scenario.

Keris Strike allows the combined, U.S. Army – Malaysian Army staff to work through the military decision making process together, ultimately increasing understanding and interoperability, while building important relationships.

Hawaii-based 9th Mission Support Command is leading the U.S. Army’s participation in the exercise.

U.S. Pacific Command’s strong military-to-military relationship with Malaysia includes a number of annual exercises such as Keris Strike, the recently concluded Malaysia phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), routine ship visits, as well as military-to-military discussions and professional forums.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pacific Partnership Mission Reaches Tonga

The Pacific Partnership team, aboard USNS Richard E. Byrd, arrived in Tonga July 13 for the humanitarian and civic assistance mission’s second Oceania stop.

Following an opening ceremony on the island of Lifuka, a number of engineering projects are underway at various locations, including schools, medical clinics and community centers. Medical and dental outreach services will be provided in a number of locations as well.

Pacific Partnership is the U.S. Navy’s dedicated humanitarian and civic assistance mission conducted with and through partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. and international government agencies to execute a variety of humanitarian civic action missions in the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility.

The mission recently completed its first stop in Samoa, and upcoming nations include Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Solomon Islands.

Follow the mission on the Pacific Partnership website, which includes links to the mission's numerous social media sites. Also, visit the website of mission partner Australia.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Talisman Saber Exercise Picks Up Pace in Australia

Exercise Talisman Saber in Australia gets underway in earnest July 13. Over the past week, participating units from all branches of service of the U.S. military and Australian Defence Force have been conducting training and familiarization in preparation for joint and combined drills focused on contingency response operations and crisis action planning.

The field training portion of the exercise will be concentrated in the Shoalwater Bay Training area near Rockhampton, as well as the Townsville Field Training Area in Queensland.

Air operations are also taking place in and off the Northern Territory of Australia, as highlighted in a recent article in the Sunday Territorian.

Australia is a strong U.S. ally in the Pacific, and Talisman Saber, which is jointly sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) and the Australian Defence Force Joint Operations Command, is an opportunity to further develop the high level of interoperability that already exists between U.S. and Australian forces. More than 20,000 U.S. and 10,000 Australian personnel are to take part.

You can follow the exercise via the Australian Defence Force Talisman Saber website, as well as the U.S. exercise website. Both sites have and will continue to capture the varied events that take place leading up to, and throughout the large scale exercise. Also, become a friend of Talisman Saber on Facebook for updates, and check out the video stories on the exercise’s YouTube page.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Samoans Making the Most of Pacific Partnership

A recent Samoa Newsline article provides some examples of the impact of the Pacific Partnership mission on individuals there.

Hundreds of people have been receiving free, basic medical services each day this week as part of the mission that has also included a number of engineering, dental and veterinary civic action programs.

Samoa is the first stop on the four-month Pacific Partnership mission, operating from USNS Richard E. Byrd. The ship arrived July 1.

Mirroring U.S. Pacific Command’s emphasis on collaboration across multiple agencies and organizations, as well as multilateral cooperation, the team for Pacific Partnership 2009 includes military and government personnel from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States, as well as civilian volunteers from organizations such as Project Hope, the Loloma Foundation, International Aid and the Shriners.

The Pacific Partnership website includes news and photos, and links to the mission’s several social media sites and blog.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Combined and Joint Exercise Talisman Saber Ramping Up in Australia

More than 20,000 U.S. and 10,000 Australian personnel are gearing up for the military training exercise Talisman Saber, primarily in and off the coast of the state of Queensland, Australia, during much of the month of July.

Participating forces have assembled in Australia and through July 12 are conducting workups and force integration training. Extensive combined and joint field training that includes land, sea and air assets as part of a Combined Task Force (CTF) begins July 13. The exercise concludes on July 26.

The exercise is focused on crisis action planning and execution of contingency response operations, and is designed to bring the different branches of the U.S. and Australian militaries together to test interoperability and refine military procedures and doctrine. The U.S. Marine Corps III Marine Expeditionary Force staff and the Australian Deployable Joint Force Headquarters staff will also train as a designated CTF headquarters.

Towns such as Rockhampton, Cairns and Townsville welcomed U.S. service members over the past week as they arrived in Australia for the exercise.

Talisman Saber is jointly sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) and the Australian Defence Force Joint Operations Command, and demonstrates U.S. and Australian commitment to the two nations’ military alliance.

Exercise news and photos are available on both the U.S. and Australia Talisman Saber websites.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pacific Angel to Provide Care, Strengthen Relationships

U.S. Pacific Air Forces announced Operation Pacific Angel 2009, a humanitarian assistance mission, is set to begin on July 10 in Indonesia, Timor Leste and Vietnam.

Operation Pacific Angel is a joint and combined humanitarian assistance operation conducted in the Pacific area of responsibility to support U.S. Pacific Command's capacity-building efforts.

Pacific Angel will conduct civil military assistance activities including: aeromedical evacuation subject matter expert exchanges, medical civic assistance programs, medical subject matter experts in infection control and basic life support, dental civic assistance programs, and engineering civic assistance programs.

As explained in the recent 13th Air Force news story, Pacific Angel will be conducted in two iterations. The first iteration will have concurrent operations conducted at Kupang, West Timor, in Indonesia, and Dili City, Timor Leste in July. The second iteration will be conducted at Dong Ha City, Vietnam in September.

Humanitarian and civic campaigns such as Pacific Angel help to improve the lives of the people in which it comes in contact. They also build regional capacity by strengthening relationships and improving security cooperation between national governments, militaries, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations during disaster relief operations.

This is officially the second year for Operation Pacific Angel. Last year, the operation was conducted in Thailand and Cambodia.

Collaborative efforts such as Pacific Angel support U.S. Pacific Command’s (PACOM) focus on partnership, readiness, and presence. PACOM maintains a constant presence throughout the Asia-Pacific region and works with its friends and allies to be better prepared to face challenges and crisis together.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pacific Partnership Mission Reaches First Stop in Samoa

Pacific Partnership, an annual humanitarian assistance-focused training mission sponsored by U.S. Pacific Fleet is underway in Samoa, the first of five Oceania locations the mission will visit over the next several months.

USNS Richard E. Byrd, the mission’s enabling ship, arrived off the coast of Samoa July 1. A ceremony to mark the opening of the mission there is scheduled for July 3.

Since arriving, the focus has been logistics as materials have been moved ashore to the locations where engineering and medical civic action projects will take place. One such location is Sasina Village on Savail’l Island, where a group of U.S. Navy civil engineers began work on a project to renovate a community hall there as medical professionals prepared to provide services in partnership with a local clinic. A ‘host nation’ section on the Pacific Partnership website provides a brief overview of the locations and nature of the various projects that will take place in Samoa and other mission locations, including the Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tonga.

Pacific Partnership, in its fourth year, works by, with and through partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. government and international agencies to conduct a variety of humanitarian civic assistance missions.

In line with the U.S. Pacific Command strategy, Pacific Partnership is designed to strengthen regional partnerships and improve multi-national readiness.

Keep up with the mission on the Pacific Partnership website, which includes news, photos, and links to a variety of social media sites and networks dedicated to the mission.


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