Timor-Leste Chief of Defense Force Visits USNS Mercy
DILI, Timor-Leste - Timor-Leste’s Chief of Defense Force for Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL), Maj. Gen. Taur Matan Ruak visited the USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) Aug. 16 to observe the ship’s medical capabilities and participate in a subject matter expert exchange (SMEE) in support of Pacific Partnership 2010.
Ruak’s visit included a tour of Mercy’s medical spaces, to include an operating room, CAT scan, and pediatric ward. The tour was followed by a discussion on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) with U.S. Public Health Service and non-governmental organization (NGO) personnel.
“I am very impressed with how big the ship is and the job it has done,” said Ruak. “We have a very good connection and relationship with the USNS Mercy.”
During the tour, Ruak was able to see military personnel and NGO’s in action and get a better understanding of how equipped the ship is in handling the high demand of patients throughout the mission. While visiting the pediatric ward, Maj. Gen. Ruak laughed and smiled as he was greeted by a Timorese child playing with a soccer ball. He also had the chance to visit with F-FDTL soldiers working on board Mercy as medics and translators. The F-FDTL has been supporting Pacific Partnership 2010 on board Mercy, as well as at all Medical and Engineering Civic Action Programs (MED/ENCAPs) across the country.
Ruak received an HADR brief by U.S. Public Health Service personnel lead by Capt. Jan Manwaring and Capt. David Ellison. Manwaring emphasized how partner nations, NGO’s, and the United States conduct various Emergency Support Functions (ESF) which provide focused humanitarian and civic assistance activities (HCA) in preparation for a natural disaster.
“We exercise, exercise, and exercise those plans and have briefs to discuss what went right, what went wrong, how we can improve, and what to do next time,” said Manwaring. Pacific Partnership supports ongoing military and NGO operations in the region, ultimately enhancing the capability and capacity of people already in place to provide rapid assistance in times of crisis.
“There is coordination with different NGO’s so we don’t duplicate the efforts,” said Project Hope Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Faye Pyles. “We are invited by invitation from the Ministry of Health and we send global health teams to different countries for assessments prior to our arrival.”
Before departing Mercy, Ruak expressed his gratitude to Pacific Partnership 2010 Mission Commander, Capt. Lisa Franchetti, the Mercy staff, and his own Defense Force of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL) personnel for their efforts and assistance during the Pacific Partnership visit.
“We are very happy to host USNS Mercy and hope to see you back,” said Ruak.
Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships among U.S. government organizations, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations. Prior to Timor-Leste, Pacific Partnership 2010’s previous mission ports include Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. Pacific Partnership 2010 will continue to Papua New Guinea aboard a Royal Australian Navy ship, HMAS Tobruk (LSH-50).