PACIFIC OCEAN - Preparations are underway for the Pacific Partnership 2013 mission in Kiribati, scheduled to begin July 13.
Pacific Partnership emphasizes a cooperative approach that provides us the opportunity to work with partner nation militaries, host nation civilian agencies, and non-governmental organizations to enhance our collective ability to provide humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and improve maritime security.
Up to 300 volunteers and military personnel, from a range of nations, will be working alongside host nation residents in Tarawa. Scheduled engagements include: the renovation of two classrooms at King George V Secondary School, the refurbishment of several medical clinics, patient treatment clinics and educational health subject matter expert exchanges to be conducted in multiple locations. Additionally, engagements include sporting competitions between Pacific Partnership personnel and local host nation residents.
Now in its eighth year, Pacific Partnership 2013 is the first mission where partner nations will lead individual phases. After completing the first two U.S. lead missions in Samoa and Tonga, as well as Australia leading the third phase in Papua New Guinea; New Zealand will lead the mission through its final phases in Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.
As the operational lead nation in Kiribati, New Zealand is responsible for the engineering and medical capacity building engagement projects that will be carried out in coordination with host nation, partner nation and non governmental organization personnel. This year's mission in Kiribati will be supported by the Pacific Partnership command platform USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) home ported in San Diego, California.
Royal New Zealand Navy Capt. Tony Millar, deputy mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2013, expressed his anticipation in assisting regional neighbors.
"We are all Pacific peoples and we all share in the responsibility to enhance our region's security and stability and ensure we are ready to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises," said Millar. "Pacific Partnership is the perfect avenue to build trust, mutual understanding, and capability."
Pacific Partnership is the largest disaster response-preparation mission in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, and originated from the international response to the 2004 tsunami that swept through parts of Southeast Asia.