Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Service Members Provide Assistance During Manila Flooding

U.S. service members assisted Philippines officials in the capital Manila with rescue efforts in the wake of torrential downpours Sept. 26 that dumped more than a month of normal rainfaill on parts of the country in a single day. Massive flooding resulted from the rain brought by Tropical Storm Ketsana.

Over a two-day period beginning Sept. 27, service members, assigned to the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P), conducted multiple rescue operations of trapped/injured people, transported and distributed food and medical supplies, provided medical treatment of injured persons, moved food and water to disaster relief centers, and evacuated trapped individuals to safety.

As reported in a Philippine Star news story, the JSOTF-P effort was directly in support of local authorities, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). A JSOTF-P news story provides more details on the assistance.

JSOTF-P is comprised of 500-600 personnel from all four military services temporarily deployed to the Philippines at the request of the Philippine Government.

U.S. Pacific Command has a history of assisting with humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, coordinating with host-nations, other nations and non-governmental agencies in support of U.S. Government and international efforts.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

US, Mongolia Dedicate New Training Facility

On 22 September 2009, senior officials from the United States Department of State and Defense as well as senior personnel of Mongolia, celebrated several major renovations to the Armed Forces Five Hills Training Center, just outside Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

The $3.5 million renovation is just one of a series of upgrades and renovations that have taken place over the over the last two and a half years. Since March of 2007, the United States, through the Global Peace Operations Initiative, has spent more than $5.7 million dollars and completed six renovation or upgrade projects.

The renovated facility has upgraded the Mongolian, post World War II headquarters building, into a modern regional peace operations training center. The newly dedicated facility will become a valuable regional training center for United Nations peacekeeping operations and will stand out as the star attraction for units participating in the annual Khaan Quest Exercise.

Previous projects at the Five Hills facility have included; updating the dining facilities, barracks, medical facilities, and classroom. The U.S. also confirmed that a new project, the renovation of the post headquarters, is scheduled to get underway in 2010.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Preventing the spread of H1N1

Public health officials are preparing for the onset of seasonal flu and the novel H1N1 flu virus by beginning preparations in force, earlier than expected. Health officials predict an early onset of seasonal flu this year.

The H1N1 vaccine is not expected to be available until mid-October as clinical trials are continuing. The Department of Defense has procured 2.7 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine for and will be a phased distribution beginning with the highest-risk populations, within military forces, DOD civilians and critical contractors. Primary priority groups within the DOD will consist of deployed forces, ships afloat, high risk healthcare workers and mass training areas (i.e. Boot Camp/Basic Training, Service Academies). The secondary group will be critical personnel followed by all other personnel.

Those identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as being at highest risk for both types of flu and encouraged to receive vaccines include:

Healthcare workers.
Pregnant women
People who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age.
Persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years
People 25 to 64 with chronic health disorders or compromised immunity.

Seasonal flu vaccine involves one injection. H1N1 vaccine will require two injections 21 to 28 days apart. Health department officials suggest taking seasonal flu vaccines as early as possible, given the potential for an early start to the flu season this year.

Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.

Take everyday actions to stay healthy
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.

Develop a family plan as a precaution. This should include stocking up on everyday items like foods and medicines as well as facemasks, alcohol-based hand rubs and other essential supplies.

Department of Defense Military Treatment Facilities will provide more information as it becomes available and will announce when the seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines are available.

For more information you can visit www.dod.mil/pandemicflu, www.flu.gov or www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu


Thursday, September 17, 2009

What will Asia-Pacific look like in 2030?

...that's the question on everyone's mind for the U.S. Pacific Command hosted "Pacific Horizons" Conference September 21-23.

In this first-ever event, the Pacific Horizons Conference dares to explore what the Asia-Pacific will look like in 20 years. Well known government and academic experts from across the region will be in attendance to provide a broad perspective on the potential future of Asia-Pacific and facilitate discussions on the challenges and opportunities in the region.

PACOM has been an advocate for peace and a committed partner in the Asia-Pacific region for 60 years and understands that a good partnership is founded on good communication. And good communication isn't just about talking, it's about listening. The discussions before, during, and after, this conference will help PACOM to "listen" to and understand the region. Through a shared appreciation of Asia Pacific cultures, needs and hopes for the future, PACOM will improve its strategic planning process and make more informed policy and execution decisions for the future and beyond.

What do you think the future challenges and opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region are?

We'd like to "listen" to our readers out there as well. Your input will be considered for discussion during the conference itself, so talk! We'll listen :)

GUEST BLOGGER: Aileen Valones, PACOM Office of Communication Integration


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

PACOM Commander Discusses Asia-Pacific Partnerships, Issues at CSIS

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), provided an update on military-to-military relationships throughout Asia-Pacific during a Sept. 15 presentation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in Washington, D.C.

An American Forces Press Service story captures the highlights of the presentation, which included discussion of issues associated with friends and allies such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, India, and Indonesia.

The presentation touched on a number of other issues, as well, such as the resumption of military to military dialogue with China and a desire for Chinese participation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises, and search and rescue exercises.

Regarding North Korea, Adm. Keating emphasized that PACOM is in support of U.S. State Department efforts and the multilateral goal of a return to the Six Party Talks and ultimately, certifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Lauding the alliance with Japan, Adm. Keating said he expects no significant changes in the military-to-military relationship as a result of the seating of a new government.

The Admiral wrapped up his 30-minute address by emphasizing the partnership, readiness and presence. He noted that the feedback he receives when travelling throughout the region is that the U.S. is the indispensible partner who is counted on to help ensure peace and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

View the complete discussion, including a follow-on question and answer session, here on the blog, or on the CSIS website.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Pacific Angel to Bring Care, Boost Cooperation in Vietnam

U.S. Air Force medical and engineering professionals will work local officials, private voluntary organizations, and military counterparts in Vietnam, to provide humanitarian assistance to residents of Quang Tri Province Sept. 15-24 as part of Operation Pacific Angel.

More than 60 personnel will represent the U.S. during this second iteration of Pacific Angel 2009. The first had concurrent operations at Kupang, West Timor, in Indonesia, and Dili City, Timor Leste, in July. Activities include subject matter expert exchanges, and medical, dental and engineering civic assistance programs.

Operation Pacific Angel is a joint and combined humanitarian and civic assistance operation conducted to support U.S. Pacific Command's capacity-building efforts. The program is aimed at improving military civic cooperation between the U.S. and countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

13th Air Force leads Pacific Angel, which is a Pacific Air Forces program.

The Vietnam phase of Operation Pacific Angel follows several medical and humanitarian cooperative efforts between the U.S. and Vietnam this year, including a joint nursing symposium in August, and a U.S. Army Pacific-led Medical Readiness and Training Exercise (MEDRETE) in July.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

USPACOM in Cooperation with State of Hawaii Pursue Renewable Energy Goals

United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) in cooperation with the state of Hawaii is developing a strategy to meet a clean energy conservation target of getting 70 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Hawaii currently gets approximately 90 percent of its energy from petroleum products. The joint interest in energy conservation stems from the Department of Defense wanting to lower the use of foreign oil for national security while meeting federal mandates for clean energy use.

USPACOM representatives attended the State’s Clean Energy Conference last week in Waikiki to discuss a broad spectrum of initiatives the military is taking to improve renewable energy, as reported in the Boston Herald, (Renewable Energy Surging).

Through further dialogue, USPACOM may exceed federal mandated goals by ultimately reducing the military’s electricity bill by millions of dollars. This would result in a ‘win-win’ situation for the entire Asia-Pacific region.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

JPAC Teams Search for World War II Remains

A 10-member Department of Defense team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii has been searching for World War II remains in Germany since early August.

JPAC is a small unit of 400 personnel charged with the daunting task of accounting for more than 84,000 Americans still missing as a result of the nation’s past conflicts. Most of the effort has been focused on those lost in southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. However, in the last two years, as noted in the New York Times (Teams Seeking Remains Dig Back to World War II), JPAC has paid additional attention to some 74,000 still unaccounted for in both Europe and the Pacific during World War II.

The military culture is rich with meaningful mottos like, “never leave a fallen comrade,” “leave no man behind,” and “bring everyone home.” It is JPAC’s duty to accomplish this mission, no matter how challenging the goal may seem. Every American servicemember, especially those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, finds comfort in knowing that if something happens, somebody will look for them. They will come home.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

U.S., Cambodian Military Engineers Restore Medical Clinics

A group of 40+ U.S. Marines and Sailors partnered with Royal Cambodian Armed Forces engineers for most of the month of August to repair a pair of medical clinics in Cambodia as part of the Marines’ Cambodia Interoperability Program (CIP).

The work, in the Kampong Speu Province, began on Aug. 5 and went through the end of the month. Together the combined forces constructed additional rooms and made improvements such as replacing tiles and ceilings, adding electrical power with solar panels, and a fresh coat of paint, to existing buildings.

The CIP, which began in 2007 as a combined medical exercise between U.S. and Cambodian forces, allows service members to become familiar with operating together in skill areas that apply to humanitarian assistance efforts.

Earlier in the year, the CIP focused on providing basic medical and dental care to local residents and giving military medical professionals from both countries an opportunity to work together.

The Sailors and Marines were from the Okinawa, Japan-based Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, Marine Wing Support Group 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

CIP activities are closely coordinated with the U.S. Embassy.

Throughout the Pacific Command area of responsibility a variety of ongoing initiatives such as the Cambodia Interoperability Program are complementing U.S. and host nation government development efforts while steadily enhancing professional experience and military-to-military relationships.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Air Force Validating Expeditionary HA/DR Capability in Micronesia

A team of 54 Air Force medical and contingency response experts arrived on the Micronesian island state of Chuuk Sept. 2 to begin a five-day validation of the Humanitarian Assistance Rapid Response Team (HARRT) team concept.

The humanitarian team was created in order to quickly respond to a disaster or humanitarian crisis in the Pacific region. Typhoons, earthquakes, or volcanoes are examples of catastrophes to which the HARRT would respond, explains an Air Force news story concerning the team’s arrival in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Thirteenth Air Force led the development of the HARRT concept and the validation will be realistic as the medical team will provide medical care to local communities. A 13th Air Force press release provides more details.

Designed to deploy to a disaster area within 24 hours of notice, the HARRT would provide initial primary care and preventive medicine for up to 350 to 500 patients per day. In an actual contingency, the team would be self-sufficient for up to five days before additional medical supplies and personnel would arrive on scene.

U.S. Pacific Command has a long history of supporting U.S. Government humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) efforts throughout Asia-Pacific. The full range of supporting capabilities are continually refined and put to the test through military training exercises and dedicated humanitarian civic assistance missions.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Timor-Leste, U.S. Conduct First Formal Military-to-Military Talks

A delegation from the Pacific Command (PACOM) staff was hosted by senior Timor-Leste civilian and military leaders in mid-August for the first Timor-Leste, United States Bilateral Defense Discussions.

The two delegations discussed the full range of military-to-military activities, from strategic dialogue and operational cooperation to planning and executing training, exercises, professional exchanges and related activities.

The Timorese side was led by Dr. Julio Pinto, Secretary of State for Defense, and Brig. Gen. Taur Matan Ruak, Chief of the Defense Force of Timor-Leste. Navy Capt. Patrick Kelly, the Southeast Asia Plans and Policy Chief at PACOM, led the U.S. delegation. U.S. Ambassador to Timor-Leste Hans Klemm also took part. Both delegations included representatives from multiple service branches and the wider defense and security community.

Of note, the Timorese delegation briefed its Force 2020 strategy, highlighting the creation of a national maritime authority and a long-term interest in participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

PACOM routinely conducts formal military-to-military discussions with friends and allies throughout Asia-Pacific. These discussions lay the foundation for identifying areas of mutual concern and opportunities to collaborate to address them.


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