DILI, Timor-Leste – Senior mission leadership, host nation and partner nation personnel attended the opening ceremony of the third Pacific Partnership mission stop in Dili, April 23.
“Pacific Partnership 2019 is a great opportunity for our people to be able to learn and work together with professional forces on how to handle mass humanitarian crises and take care of refugees from natural disasters,” said, Col. Calisto Santos, chief of staff of the Timor-Leste Defense Force. “This mutual cooperation will help us to address threats in the future.”
U.S., partner nation military members, and non-governmental organization volunteers are scheduled to take part in a variety of events including first-aid and preventive medicine training, various healthcare symposiums, engineering projects, disaster response seminars, and a variety of community outreach engagements with the goal of improving the overall humanitarian and disaster preparedness in Timor-Leste.
“Through Pacific Partnership and other efforts, the United States aims to support Timor-Leste’s goals and objectives while building interoperability with our regional partners and allies to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said U.S. Ambassador to Timor-Leste Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick. “As an Indo-Pacific country, the United States envisions a regional order where all nations – large and small – are strong, independent, and free from coercion.”
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.
Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations that include Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and the United Kingdom to strengthen disaster response preparedness around the Indo-Pacific region.
Timor-Leste is one of several host nations for Pacific Partnership 2019. Mission teams have also made stops in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Philippines, the Federated States of Micronesia, Malaysia, and will continue with stops in Vietnam and Thailand. Experts in the fields of engineering, medicine and disaster response will partner with each host nation to conduct civic-action projects, community health exchanges, medical symposiums, and disaster response training activities.
Pacific Partnership, now in its 14th iteration, is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. Each year, the mission team works collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase stability and security in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific.