The United States launched on Tuesday its so-called Pacific Partnership 2019 in a ceremony held in Tacloban City where an annual maritime operation will be conducted intended to improve disaster response preparedness, resiliency, and capacity building while enhancing partnerships between participating nations and civilian humanitarian organizations throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
In a statement, the US Embassy in Manila said Pacific Partnership 2019 includes more than 800 military and civilian personnel from the United States, Philippines, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.
Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez, Department of National Defense Office of Civil Defense Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad, and US Embassy in the Philippines Deputy Chief of Mission John C. Law delivered their remarks during the ceremony.
“This year’s mission is focused on emergency and disaster preparedness, improving capacity of the local government, enhancing regional partnerships, and increasing multilateral operations,” Romualdez said, as she reflected on Tacloban City’s recovery from Typhoon Haiyan.
“Resilience is learning from the past and making learned and informed decisions as we move forward. And today we welcome Pacific Partnership, our partner in disaster preparedness,” she added.
At the ceremony, Law told participants: “The work that you are doing here today and over the next two weeks is extraordinarily important because you will help make people’s lives better, and we thank you for that.”
According to the US Embassy, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral disaster response preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region.
This year’s mission is led by US Navy Capt. Randy Van Rossum, Commander of Destroyer Squadron 1, and his staff aboard expeditionary fast transport ships USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6) and USNS Fall River (T-EPF 4). 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 symposiums, and disaster response training activities.
After this phase in the Philippines, the Pacific Partnership mission teams will make additional stops in Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Vietnam.
Pacific Partnership was started in response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters, the December 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of South and Southeast Asia.
“The mission has evolved over the years from emphasis on direct care to an operation focused on enhancing partnerships through host nation subject matter expert and civil-military exchanges,” the US Embassy statement said.