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DILI, Timor-Leste - Service members and guests from Australia, New Zealand, Timor-Leste and the United States gathered at the Comoro Medical Center for a ceremony June 24 marking the end of the Timor-Leste phase of Pacific Partnership (PP14).
In its ninth iteration, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
During the ceremony, PP14 leaders and local government officials spoke about the variety of engineering and community projects, dental care, training engagements as well as the cooperation that transpired during the two-week mission.
The ceremony was held in front the newly-constructed emergency room at the Comoro Medical Center and according to His Excellency Jonathan Schwass, New Zealand ambassador to Timor-Leste, it is a testament to the relationships that were forged during PP14.
"The clinic we stood in front of is a fine example of the results that the defense forces of participating nations can achieve when they're working alongside the host nation," said Schwass. "These projects have supported Timor-Leste's development and they're also vital preparation for our nations working together in times of crisis, such as natural disasters."
U.S. Navy Capt. Rodney Moore, commodore of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment, feels that this was more than just about cinder blocks and dental exams. The true accomplishments from this mission came from working together to improve capability, strengthen local institutions and forge enduring relationships between the four nations. (See photos from the mission).
"Through all of this effort, we were able to gain a deeper understanding of each other's humanity and how we can build bonds by helping others," said Moore. "Through this language of cooperation and teamwork, we empower communities and create lasting positive change. The bonds we have built with our brothers and sisters in arms from Australia, New Zealand, and Timor-Leste defense forces are stronger than the concrete we have placed."
After the ceremony, Natalia de Araujo, vice minister of ethics and services delivery, cut the ribbon to the new emergency room, finalizing the last project involved in PP14.
"I think I can speak for the entire team and say it has been an incredibly rewarding experience," said Moore. "The close bonds formed by working shoulder to shoulder certainly produced these tangible results that will endure well beyond our time here."
This year, Pacific Partnership features simultaneous seaborne and airborne phases with the airborne phase focused on the nations of Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Medical and engineering personnel will conduct numerous medical, dental and veterinary engagements, along with engineering civil action projects and community relations events. The seaborne phase is a Japanese-led mission and is scheduled to visit Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines.