WASHINGTON D.C. (NNS) – The mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2011 met with representatives of the domestic and foreign press during a trip to the nation’s capital beginning Feb. 27 and ending Mar. 4.
Capt. Jesse A. Wilson, commanding officer of Destroyer Squadron 23, based in San Diego, and mission commander of Pacific Partnership 2011 traveled to Washington to brief Navy leadership on the details of the upcoming deployment and speak to the press about the purpose of the Pacific Partnership mission.
“The tsunami in 2004, that affected the Indian Ocean basin and Oceania, really was the genesis for Pacific Partnership,” Wilson said at a round-table interview with reporters from Asahi Shimbun, JiJi Press and Kyodo News from Japan and MBC TV & Radio from Korea. ”The hospital ship, USNS Mercy, provided a lot of aid and support, and we saw that the outpouring of support from the region and the limiting of pain and suffering we were able to do. This year, we are embarking on the USS Cleveland (LPD 7), continuing the hard work done in past years.”
At the invitation of the host nation, Pacific Partnership 2011 is scheduled to conduct humanitarian and disaster relief work in Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Citing comments from Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, Commander, Seventh Fleet, Wilson pointed out that Pacific Partnership missions allow the U.S. Navy opportunities to work with regional militaries and improve interoperability in support of humanitarian and civil aid. He also commented that working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is a telling point about the way the Navy will engage in humanitarian operations in the future.
“All of the participants, whether they are military or civilian, are bringing worlds of experience to the table and have a genuine interest in working to improve our collective ability to respond to a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis,” Wilson said. “We have found out that the more we [the partner nations] work together in building trust and confidence, the more effective we are when these natural disasters occur.”
Partner nations will include Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Spain. Pacific Partnership 2011 will be hosted by Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua-New Guinea, Timor-Leste, and the Federated States of Micronesia. Together, they will participate in medical, dental, engineering and veterinary civil action programs.
Over the past five years, Pacific Partnership has provided medical, dental, educational, and preventive medicine services to more than 300,000 patients in 13 countries. More than 130 engineering projects in more than a dozen countries have included school refurbishment and construction of entirely new clinics for providing essential medical services to remote villages and communities.
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