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MANILA, Philippines - Pacific Partnership 21, the annual U.S-led multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific, kicked off with a medical subject matter expert exchange at Manila Naval Hospital, July 28.
The Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ship USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF 9) arrived at the mission port July 14, where participants disembarked before conducting a 14-day quarantine as part of ongoing COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Pacific Partnership brings nations together to prepare during calm periods to effectively respond in times of crisis, throughout the Indo-Pacific. More than 200 personnel from the U.S. and host nations will participate virtually and on the ground during the mission, led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron 5, Capt. Jesus Rodriguez, embarked on City of Bismarck.
“The humanitarian and disaster response, engineering and medical projects conducted during Pacific Partnership are invaluable,” said Rodriquez. “Working alongside our partners and host nations in the Indo-Pacific ensures we are always able to provide humanitarian assistance when asked, no matter the circumstance. By working together, we build joint-capability and strengthen our partnerships.”
Planners from the U.S. and partner nations have worked together over the past months to adapt Pacific Partnership amidst the challenges and demands of a global pandemic. In June, Pacific Partnership 21 successfully hosted its first virtual event, a medical seminar with teams in Papua New Guinea.
“From initial planning to execution, Pacific Partnership 21 recognized the need to adapt for in-person and virtual engagements across all lines of effort,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joshua McNett, Pacific Partnership 21 mission operations officer. “The team has worked closely with host nations to tailor events to meet their needs and respect their COVID mitigation measures. The challenges we have overcome are a testament to the resilience and teamwork that our partners and allies have strengthened over the last 15 years of Pacific Partnership.”
Throughout the course of Pacific Partnership 21, experts in the fields of engineering, medicine, and disaster response will partner with each host country to conduct civic-action projects, community health exchanges, medical discussions and disaster response training activities.
Virtual engagements include presentations, live question and answer sessions, panel discussions and interactive small group breakout sessions, as well as band performances featuring musicians from participating nations.
“Pacific Partnership provides the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band with the opportunity to collaborate with partner nation bands, as well as create new relationships with fellow musicians in the host nations,” said Lt. Luslaida Barbosa, U.S. Pacific Fleet bandmaster. “The virtual environment forced us to think outside the box to create engaging and meaningful content, while showcasing our enduring partnerships throughout the Indo-Pacific region.”
Engagements between Pacific Partnership participants and host nations are intended to improve capacity, enhance regional partnerships and increase multinational cooperation for disaster preparedness.
Pacific Partnership was formed in response to the December 2004 “Boxing Day” tsunami, one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters that devastated parts of South and Southeast Asia. The mission has evolved over the years from an emphasis on direct care to an operation focused on enhancing partnerships through host nation subject matter expert and civil-military exchanges.
Expeditionary fast transport ships, such as City of Bismarck, provide rapid intra-theater transport and have the capability to conduct relief operations in small or damaged ports. Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations to strengthen disaster response preparedness around the Indo-Pacific.
Pacific Partnership’s mission is to work collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase stability and security in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific.
Under Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy's largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with 35 maritime nations in preserving a free and open Indo- Pacific region.