Pacific Exercise Tests Disaster Response Capabilities

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2011 — With two Navy ves­sels en route to the Mediter­ranean to sup­port emer­gency evac­u­a­tions and human­i­tar­i­an oper­a­tions for the Libyan cri­sis, if direct­ed, U.S. Pacif­ic Com­mand is prepar­ing to launch an inter­a­gency, inter­na­tion­al mis­sion aimed at pro­vid­ing a fast, coor­di­nat­ed response should dis­as­ter strike the Pacif­ic Ocean region.

Pacific Partnership 2011
USS Cleve­land is slat­ed to leave San Diego March 21 to become the lead U.S. ves­sel dur­ing Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2011. The five-month human­i­tar­i­an and civic assis­tance mis­sion will include vis­its to Ton­ga, Van­u­atu, Papua-New Guinea, Tim­or-Leste and the Fed­er­at­ed States of Microne­sia.
U.S. Navy pho­to
Click to enlarge

Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2011 will kick off March 21, when the amphibi­ous trans­port dock ship USS Cleve­land leaves its San Diego port to become the lead U.S. ves­sel dur­ing a five-month mis­sion through Ocea­nia, Navy Capt. Jesse A. Wil­son Jr., the mis­sion com­man­der and com­man­der of Destroy­er Squadron 23, told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice.

The par­tic­i­pants — a mix about 600 mil­i­tary, inter­a­gency and non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion­al med­ical pro­fes­sion­als and engi­neers hail­ing from sev­er­al nations — will vis­it Ton­ga, Van­u­atu, Papua-New Guinea, Tim­or-Leste and the Fed­er­at­ed States of Microne­sia, Wil­son said.

Pacom, work­ing through U.S. Pacif­ic Fleet, launched the Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship ini­tia­tive in 2005 after a dev­as­tat­ing Decem­ber 2004 tsuna­mi struck the region. The annu­al mis­sion focus­es on rein­forc­ing rela­tion­ships formed through the tsuna­mi response and lay­ing ground­work to ensure future pre­pared­ness, Wil­son said.

Through a vari­ety of human­i­tar­i­an and civic assis­tance projects, Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship pro­vides a frame­work for the Unit­ed States to work col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly with its inter­na­tion­al, inter­a­gency and non-gov­ern­men­tal part­ners to con­duct an effec­tive human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and dis­as­ter relief response, he said.

Mil­i­tar­i­ly, Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2011 will be heav­i­ly Navy, but it also will include a Marine Corps con­tin­gent to oper­ate vehi­cles and equip­ment and Army and Air Force rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The inter­a­gency par­tic­i­pa­tion will include a State Depart­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive to join Wil­son aboard USS Cleve­land for the entire mis­sion, and U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment offi­cials, as well as their inter­na­tion­al coun­ter­parts, to oper­ate pri­mar­i­ly ashore.

More than a dozen non-gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions also will con­tribute man­pow­er and exper­tise.

“This is more than a whole-of-gov­ern­ment approach,” Wil­son said. “It’s the whole of sev­er­al gov­ern­ments” and their NGOs “to make sure we are all work­ing in synch to lever­age all the efforts we are doing.”

The U.S. Coast Guard also will par­tic­i­pate in the exer­cise for the first time, with two cut­ters sup­port­ing var­i­ous phas­es of the over­all mis­sion. USCGC Jarvis will join the oper­a­tions in Ton­ga, and USCGC Sequoia, in Microne­sia.

In addi­tion, Aus­tralia will con­tribute two land­ing craft ships; Japan, a mar­itime self-defense force ves­sel; and New Zealand, the amphibi­ous sealift ship HMNZS Can­ter­bury that is cur­rent­ly sup­port­ing the hur­ri­cane response in Christchurch.

A French heli­copter crew will be embarked on the Can­ter­bury, and Cana­da, Sin­ga­pore and Spain will deploy teams to sup­port Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2011.

Last year, when the hos­pi­tal ship USNS Mer­cy con­duct­ed Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2011, the empha­sis was on con­duct­ing surg­eries and oth­er advanced med­ical pro­ce­dures, many of them aboard ship. But this year, with a large-deck amphibi­ous ship serv­ing as the pri­ma­ry plat­form, med­ical, den­tal, vet­eri­nary, vet­eri­nary and engi­neer­ing ser­vices will be pro­vid­ed ashore.

“We are more focused on get­ting our doc­tors ashore, work­ing side by side with host-nation doc­tors, exchang­ing exper­tise and new ideas, repair­ing bio­med­ical equip­ment and get­ting to where we can ser­vice remote areas and under­served pop­u­la­tions in those coun­tries,” Wil­son said.

Navy Seabees also will be key to the mis­sion, part­ner­ing with host-nation offi­cials and NGOs to ren­o­vate schools and build med­ical clin­ics. At one loca­tion, they’ll repair bro­ken toi­lets so chil­dren no longer have to go home when nature calls. At anoth­er stop, they will improve drainage to stop flood­ing at a site des­ig­nat­ed as an evac­u­a­tion point dur­ing a nat­ur­al dis­as­ter.

“Our engi­neers do a lot to improve, not only the lev­el of ser­vices that can be pro­vid­ed in the coun­try, but also the qual­i­ty of life of the peo­ple,” Wil­son said.

Through these projects and activ­i­ties, par­tic­i­pants in Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship will work with host-coun­try offi­cials to iden­ti­fy how they could con­tribute to that country’s dis­as­ter-response capa­bil­i­ties.

“We can famil­iar­ize our­selves with that con­struct and deter­mine who the key play­ers are, how do we com­mu­ni­cate, what capa­bil­i­ty do they have, and what capa­bil­i­ty would we need to bring in case there was an emer­gency?” Wil­son said. “And to the great­est extent that we can do that, it will serve us in the event of a real dis­as­ter.

“It increas­es our inter­op­er­abil­i­ty, which in the end, serves to lessen the pain and suf­fer­ing that would hap­pen after a dis­as­ter,” he said.

As they join togeth­er this year for the first time for Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship, the three U.S. mar­itime ser­vices — the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard — will pro­mote three of the six core com­pe­ten­cies embod­ied in their col­lec­tive mar­itime strat­e­gy, Wil­son said.

“One of them is human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and dis­as­ter response. And that is not a buzz­word. It is not some­thing we do when we feel like it,” he said. “It is part of our mis­sion.” The mis­sion also pro­vides for­ward pres­ence and engage­ment. “We are a glob­al force for good. That is our mot­to,” Wil­son said. “And to do that, you need to be out and about and avail­able and engag­ing with your part­ners and host nations.”

Wil­son cit­ed the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake that hit Haiti in Jan­u­ary 2010. Sailors aboard the USS Hig­gins, return­ing to San Diego from an around-the-world deploy­ment, were the first respon­ders to arrive on the scene to bring relief to the vic­tims.

“To be a first respon­der, just like a beat cop on the street or that para­medic that shows up, you have to be out and you have to be about,” Wil­son said. “And that is what the Navy is. We have for­ward pres­ence. And that’s what we will be pro­vid­ing dur­ing Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship 2011.”

Mean­while, the mis­sion pro­motes mar­itime secu­ri­ty, a third tenet of the mar­itime strat­e­gy. “Through Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship, we are increas­ing our abil­i­ty to oper­ate with oth­er host-nation navies and orga­ni­za­tions,” Wil­son said. “What we have found is, the more you enhance and devel­op a part­ner­ship, an alliance, a friend­ship, the bet­ter you can unite and work togeth­er for a host of things.”

As it bol­sters long-stand­ing rela­tion­ships and builds new ones, Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship demon­strates U.S. com­mit­ment to the Pacif­ic region, Wil­son said.

“We saw the grat­i­tude for the assis­tance we pro­vid­ed [fol­low­ing the 2004 tsuna­mi], and how that went a long way in devel­op­ing long-last­ing part­ner­ships, rela­tion­ships and friend­ships,” he said. “So we con­tin­ue to build those rela­tion­ships [and] those part­ner­ships so we can more effec­tive­ly, in a col­lec­tive man­ner, address any kind of nat­ur­al or man­made dis­as­ter that could hap­pen in the region.”

Over the past five years, Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship has pro­vid­ed med­ical, den­tal, edu­ca­tion­al and pre­ven­tive med­i­cine ser­vices to more than 300,000 peo­ple and com­plet­ed more than 130 engi­neer­ing projects in 13 coun­tries.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →