Pacific Partnership participants pause for a photo after USNS Brunswick's arrival in Tawau, April 21. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Joshua Fulton)

TAWAU, Malaysia - Pacific Partnership 2018, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) preparedness mission, concluded pierside of expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6), May 3.

More than 130 military personnel from the U.S., United Kingdom, Japan and Australia conducted medical engagements and subject matter exchanges, three engineering projects and more than 12 community relations and band performances, along with subject matter exchanges with local professionals on HA/DR readiness.

“Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations have attracted the attention of the global community in recent years. Building capabilities, improving interoperability and formulating a conceptual framework for participation in disaster relief operations is gaining increasing urgency among policymakers,” said Malaysian Armed Forces Vice Admiral Mohd Reza Bin Mohd Sany, Commander, Joint Forces Headquarters. "Therefore, we must be prepared to render assistance from any disaster as effectively as possible at a very short notice. We must have a clear understanding of the mission and how the military, host nation, local communities, and other participants blend together and interact in accomplishing that mission."

The medical team of audiologists, veterinarians, primary care physicians, medical technicians, dentists, dental technicians and nurses conducted student health education seminars at the SK Merotai Besar, SK Kinabutan Besar, and SMK Balung schools. Additionally, they engaged in subject matter expert exchanges with the Tawau Health Department and Veterinary Department, as well as conducted cooperative health exchanges at the Merotai Besar and Kampung Balung Cocos sites. Comprehensive medical, dental and optometry services were provided for 1229 patients in the local area, with 525 patients receiving new glasses.

Seabees from Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 and ACB 5 worked alongside their Malaysian counterparts at the SK Jawa and Taman Tawau Primary Schools, and the Klinik Kesihatan in Merotai Besar. Altogether, three new buildings were constructed, a septic tank was installed, water systems were renovated, buildings were painted and concrete walkways were expanded.

"The mission has contributed to the lives of thousands of Malaysians. Through the superb cooperation withe the Malaysian Armed Forces, Pacific Partnership enhanced interoperability and knowledge across our militaries," said U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir. "But most importantly, Pacific Partnership means we have new friends and new networks. We know who to contact when we need help on a particular matter - we know what part of the U.S. military and Malaysian military may be most able to respond."

U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Army, as well as other multinational personnel conducted a maritime search and rescue exercise with the Malaysian Armed Forces during a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief event. With more than 70 service members and local Malaysians taking part in the training, the exercise enhanced the joint interoperability between U.S. and its partner nations.

"Our role here has been very much about shared understanding, building partnerships and providing additional capability where required,” said Capt. Peter Olive, Deputy Mission Commander for Pacific Partnership 2018. “I believe, together, we have strengthened multilateral cooperation between peoples of the Asia-Pacific region as well as those from further afield, who hold dear the value of countries cooperating around a common cause, working together as international partners for the good of all.”

Brunswick is one of three expeditionary fast transport ships in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to continue its mission of providing rapid intra-theater transport of troops and military equipment. Specially configured for humanitarian and disaster relief operations, Brunswick is currently capable of accommodating a robust multi-specialized team of medical, engineering and civic assistance personnel to support the Pacific Partnership mission.

Since 2006, 22 partner nations around the globe in 18 host nations have participated in Pacific Partnership providing medical care to more than 300,000 patients, veterinary services to nearly 40,000 animals and completed nearly 200 engineering projects while building meaningful and close partnerships throughout the region.