Monday, December 28, 2009

Service Members Brighten Spirits of Philippine Children

Twenty members of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) spent a holiday evening visiting children at the Social Development Center in Zamboanga City Dec. 23.

As explained in a Manila Bulletin story, JSOTF-P volunteers started the evening playing games and singing Christmas carols with the nearly 60 children at the center. Later, the children received Christmas stockings and ate popcorn while watching movies. When the movies ended, the kids were led upstairs so they could see for the first time new bedding that had been donated by members of the task force.

In addition to this visit, over the past few months approximately 100 JSOTF-P volunteers have helped with painting the boys' and girls' rooms. At the time, volunteers noted that the children also needed new bedding, mattresses and draperies. From that point, a collection was taken and dozens of JSOTF-P service members contributed to a fund which paid for new bedding and drapes, courtesy of the Western Mindanao Command tailor.

Founded in 1994, the center serves as a residential facility for children who are abandoned, neglected, orphaned or abused. The children there receive personal care and rehabilitative services with the hopes that they will eventually be reintegrated back to their families and communities.

To learn more about JSOTF-P, visit the command’s website.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

International Audience Discusses Disaster Management in Indonesia

Participants from more than 10 nations and both the civil and military sectors took part in an Indonesian Armed Forces and PACOM co-hosted regional disaster management emergency response workshop in Indonesia over earlier this month.

Called Southeast Asia Disaster Management Cooperation (SEADMC) 2009, the two-part workshop began in the capital Jakarta Dec. 2-3, and focused on examining international and regional disaster response mechanisms and capabilities. This included input from the broad range of participants, including government and military officials, as well as organizations such as the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), World Food Program, the International Red Cross and International Red Crescent, and other non-governmental organizations. The group also examined the supporting role of militaries in disasters, with an ultimate goal of identifying ways to improve efforts among the various organizations.

During the second part of the workshop in Banten Province, Dec. 7-11, the group conducted a scenario-driven (see the presentation outlining the scenario) table top exercise and developed an emergency response plan, as well as a provincial disaster management/emergency response standard operation procedure (SOP).

U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Cameroon Hume; Indonesia’s Chief of Defence Gen. Djoko Santoso; U.S. Navy Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet; and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Tom, PACOM’s chief of staff, were among the many senior leaders who contributed to the workshop.

The ultimate goal of SEADMC is to develop critical relationships and improve information sharing, cooperation, and effective coordination between the major responders to large scale natural disasters in Indonesia. SEADMAC was first held in 2007.


Friday, December 18, 2009

PACOM Takes Preventive Measures in Combating H1N1

Have you received your "flu shot", yet? How about your 2009-H1N1 "Swine Flu" vaccine?

2009 is a unique influenza year, in that two different influenza vaccinations are being administered: the seasonal influenza vaccine and the 2009-H1N1 vaccine. Neither vaccine is cross-protective for the other circulating influenza virus types, which means that only seasonal influenza vaccine protects against the seasonal influenza viruses, and only the H1N1 vaccine protects against the 2009-H1N1 virus.

What is 2009-H1N1?

According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), 2009-H1N1 (sometimes called "swine flu") is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) signaled that a pandemic of 2009-H1N1 flu was underway.

What is PACOM doing to prevent the spread of H1N1?

PACOM understands the importance of preventing the spread of H1N1, and as a critical force health protection measure, the 2009-H1N1 influenza vaccine is mandatory for all active duty personnel, unless medically waived.

In the video below, Rear Adm. Mike Anderson, US Pacific Command Surgeon, discusses how PACOM is taking precautionary steps in combating the spread of H1N1. He also added that the good news is that the virus has not caused a significant operational impact to date .

Great reminders from PACOM's Surgeon:

After receiving the vaccine, Rear Adm. Anderson reminds all of us that it is still important to continue to protect ourselves and our families from H1N1 by practicing good hand washing, good sneeze etiquette, and staying home if ill (with your supervisor's permission!) , especially if you have a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (or greater).

For more information, we invite you to visit Tripler Army Medical Center's Fight the Flu website, or leave us a comment.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

U.S. Air Force Supports Australian Air Defense Exercise

Over a period of three weeks in late November and early December, U.S. Air Force KC-135 and B-52 aircraft originating from Guam flew more than 25 missions in support of Australia’s East Coast Air Defense Exercise (ECADEX).

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) described ECADEX as a vital air defense training event for the RAAF in an Australia Department of Defence news release.

As explained in an Andersen Air Force Base release, there was also training value for the U.S. air crews The B-52s served as “opposition forces” during the exercise, and the KC-135s had an opportunity to refuel RAAF F-18s in addition to the B-52s.

PACOM and the Australian Defence Force work closely together and have shared interests that not only enhance U.S. and Australia defense cooperation, interoperability, and security, but that also provides opportunities for increased multilateral partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

C-130 Aircraft to Transport Tons of Presents

The holiday season is here. In Guam, volunteers from Andersen Air Force base and the local community have been busy preparing for the Operation Christmas Drop ceremony on December 15, 2009. They will be loading more than 50 boxes onto a C-130 aircraft, to send to more than 30,000 islanders residing on the smaller islands of Chuuk, Palau, Yap, Marshall Islands, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Partnership is very important: through military and local community support, the OCD organization was able to collect tens of thousands of donated items and raise over $10,000 through donations and fundraising efforts. It's always amazing to see the big impact that people can make especially when they all work together towards a common goal--even the smallest efforts can go a long, long way!

According to Capt. Charles Schulz, 734th Air Mobility Command maintenance officer, "Each individual should take pride in knowing they helped as many people as they did."

This season, stop and take a look at what's been keeping you busy. How do you plan to help your local community to spread the holiday cheer? We'd love to hear your thoughts!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

APCSS Builds Regional Partnerships, Networks through Alumni

An outreach team from the Hawaii-based Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) is in the midst of a regional trip, taking them to Japan, Brunei, and Malaysia to discuss issues of mutual concern, such as disaster management, and to strengthen ties with alumni.

The APCSS alumni, with chapters in various nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, serve as the hub of a network of military and civilian professionals within various sectors associated with security.

These informal groups of alumni often provide a venue for professional development, as was the case, for instance, in Brunei during this current trip. There, Professor Herman “Butch” Finley, in collaboration with Brunei’s National Disaster Management Centre, had an opportunity to share his perspective on disaster management with local leaders, highlighting issues such as the importance of local communities’ involvement in disaster management.

As explained in a Brunei Times article, the event was also intended to strengthen ties between APCSS alumni by providing a venue to discuss their work professionally, as well as generate new partnerships and discussions in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief – an APCSS objective for the trip.

While in Japan the team, made up of one professor and two alumni division representatives, met with alumni and also visited the Ministry of Defense to help promote participation in APCSS programs. Additonally, Professor Finley had an opportunity to discuss disaster management issues with Japan Self-Defence Forces officers.

The three-person APCSS team is currently wrapping up its outreach in Malaysia.

APCSS is a U.S. Department of Defense academic institute that addresses regional and global security issues, inviting military and civilian representatives of the U.S. and Asia-Pacific nations to its comprehensive program of executive education and conferences, both in Hawaii and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The Center supports PACOM's objective of developing professional and personal ties among national security establishments throughout the region.


Friday, December 4, 2009

PACOM Commander: Strengthening U.S.-Japan Alliance is a Focus

The following was written by Capt. Lydia Robertson, PACOM’s chief of public affairs, who is travelling with Adm. Willard as he meets with senior military officials to discuss views on regional security and ways to further cooperation and partnership.

The Japan and United States alliance is a cornerstone to security in East Asia, and strengthening relationships in support of that alliance is a focus of Adm. Robert Willard, PACOM’s commander.

Earlier this week, on the first stop of one of his first regional trips as PACOM commander, Adm. Willard met with several counterparts in the Japan Self Defense Forces as well as government officials, reinforcing the commitment of the United States – and Pacific Command – to a continuing U.S. presence in the region.

“We consider ourselves to be an Asian nation in our own right with vast interests here and some very close alliances and strategic partnerships out here, and we look forward to strengthening those relationships over time,” Willard said, emphasizing he would seize opportunities to strengthen the alliance.

As the 50th anniversary of the alliance nears, Willard noted the importance of understanding how far the relationship has developed but also his role in strengthening the alliance.

“There are many ways to think about that when you consider this region of the world and the trends that are ongoing in the Asia-Pacific region: more multilateral engagement among countries and among militaries than bilateral, the teaming associated with areas of common interest, such as proliferation, terrorism, piracy, other illicit areas like counter-narcotics and so forth, search and rescue, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance on the other side,” Willard said. “These are things that can be done in partnership with other nations, not necessarily alone or just in bilateral arrangements.”

The capabilities of the Japanese and U.S. militaries are significant and overall coordination between the two continues to evolve through continued exercises together.

“Every exercise is intended to be more joint. Every exercise that we conduct in coordination with one another is intended to test interoperability and overall coordination,” Willard said. “We have to constantly practice, constantly review concepts of operations, constantly exercise to get better in order to advance those capabilities. So I think that the synergy that can be gained through joint operations, the operations between Japan’s Self Defense Forces and United States forces, will only improve over time.”

In response to questions about the U.S. relationship with China, the admiral said managing the relationship will include enhanced military to military dialogue and other engagements. “We bear a responsibility to effectively engage with the Chinese and to understand one another better,” Willard said.

In a media roundtable with Japanese reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Adm. Willard discussed many issues, including working group efforts to advance the realignment initiative, the importance of the deterrent role of forward-deployed U.S. forces, and other topics.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

U.S. Army, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to Train during Yama Sakura

The Japan-based U.S. Army I Corps Forward, U.S. Army Pacific and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force will train together Dec. 8-14 during exercise Yama Sakura, a joint command post exercise in Hokkaido, Japan.

Yama Sakura, which means "mountain cherry blossom," is an annual, full-spectrum, combined command post exercise with U.S. and Japanese personnel working to strengthen Japan's self defense operations.

This year, U.S. Army Pacific's Contingency Command Post and I Corps Forward, which will be conducting its first training deployment, form the central command and control element for U.S. forces.

The annual exercise rotates among each of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces’s five regional armies. This year, the Northern Army will participate. Also a joint exercise for the United States, Yama Sakura combines U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps elements, including Reservists and National Guard forces.

Approximately 1,500 U.S. military personnel and 3,500 Japan Ground Self-Defense Force personnel will take part.

U.S. Army Soldiers and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force work together in July to plan for exercise Yama Sakura, which begins next week.


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