LAE, Papua New Guinea
(NNS)-- Amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD7), the flagship for Pacific Partnership 2011, anchored off the coast of Lae, May 19, to begin the third phase of the mission with representatives from Australia, Canada, Spain, France and the United States.
Cleveland houses the command staff, representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen from the partner nations.
“The Pacific Partnership team is very excited to begin the mission in Papua New Guinea,” said Capt. Jesse A. Wilson, Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23 and mission commander of Pacific Partnership 2011. “Working together we will provide engineering, dental, medical and veterinary civic action projects and subject matter expert exchanges designed to increase interoperability between partner nations and Papua New Guinea. As a result, we’ll improve the quality of life of the people of Papua New Guinea, and enhance our collective capability to respond to natural disasters in the region.”
Wilson was greeted by the Papua New Guineans with a traditional spear dance, which welcomed the Pacific Partnership 2011 mission commander. The spear dance dates back to antiquity when tribal warriors would demonstrate their willingness to defend their villages from invaders. The spearmen would charge and threaten visitors, then welcome them into the village, once it was evident they came in peace.
The first phase of the Pacific Partnership 2011 mission began in Tonga April 13 and ended April 22. The team met with local leaders, treated 3,806 patients, 819 of which were children, cared for 163 animals, completed seven engineering projects, including
school buildings, bathrooms and a water catchment system, and engaged in eight community service projects while in Tonga.
The second phase of the mission began in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu April 28 and concluded May 9.
Servicemembers from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, France, Canada and Vanuatu worked together with NGOs and residents of Espiritu Santo to provide treatment to 6,068 patients. They provided surgeries for 25 people, saw 676 dental patients, cared for 118 animals, completed four engineering developments and engaged in 13 community service projects.
The Pacific Partnership 2011 team also participated in preventive medicine, dental, veterinary and primary care medicine subject matter exchanges, ranging in topics from preventive medicine to damage control, with a total of 1,613 host nationals and completed four engineering projects, including new classrooms, school toilet facilities, water catchment systems and the installation of eight water tanks.
“It's truly a pleasure to be working together with so many different cultures building partnerships that will provide a great deal of help for people in the Pacific,” said Cmdr. Bruce Greig, senior medical officer of the Australian contingent. “In Vanuatu there was an injured tourist who suffered life-threatening injuries. New Zealand surgeons stabilized the patient, an American doctor monitored the patient while flying to the hospital in a French New Caledonian helicopter, with an Australian general practitioner coordinating the movement of all of the medical professionals and the patient. Working together they saved this man's life.”
Along with the medical, dental, engineering and veterinary civic action programs, scheduled for Papua New Guinea, there will be a humanitarian assistance/disaster response conference, preventive medical outreach programs to help mitigate local issues like tuberculosis and dengue, and members of the Pacific Partnership 2011 team will attend the South Pacific Women’s Empowerment Policy Dialogue sponsored by the U.S. Embassy.
Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance initiative sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Fleet, aimed at improving interoperability between host and partner nations. Now in its sixth year, Pacific Partnership 2011 will continue to Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia following their mission in Papua New Guinea.
“Different cultures partnering together to make a difference is what Pacific Partnership is all about,” said Teddy Taylor, U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Republic of Vanuatu. “The mission reflects the United States strong commitment to the Pacific Region and is providing sustainable projects that will provide improved quality of life for the people in the area.”
During the past five years, Pacific Partnership has provided medical, dental, educational, and preventive medicine services to more than 210,000 people and completed more than 140 engineering projects in 15 countries.
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