U.S. and Philippines Kick Off Pacific Partnership 2019

(L-R) Royal Australian Navy Capt. Brendon Zilko, Commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Central Command Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, Department of National Defense Office of Civil Defense Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad, Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Romualdez, U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Deputy Chief of Mission John C. Law, Commander of Hawaii National Guard Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi Jr., AFP Spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, and Pacific Partnership 2019 Mission Commander U.S. Navy Capt. Randy Van Rossum attended the opening ceremony.

Tacloban City, March 12, 2019 — The United States joined allied and partner nation forces to launch Pacific Partnership 2019 yesterday at an opening ceremony in Tacloban.  This annual maritime operation improves disaster response preparedness, resiliency, and capacity while enhancing partnerships between participating nations and civilian humanitarian organizations throughout the Indo-Pacific region.  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 U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) John C. Law delivered remarks at the ceremony.

Mayor Romualdez said, “This year’s mission is focused on emergency and disaster preparedness, improving capacity of the local government, enhancing regional partnerships, and increasing multilateral operations.”  Reflecting on Tacloban City’s recovery from Typhoon Haiyan, she added, “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.”

DCM Law and Mayor Romualdez at the ceremony.

At the ceremony, DCM 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.”

Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral disaster response preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region.  This year’s mission is led by U.S. 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 began 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.