Pacific Partnership 2019 concludes mission stop in Philippines

Pacific Partnership 2019 concludes mission stop in Philippines

U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Kassandra Collins

Senior mission leadership, host nation and partner nation personnel attended the closing ceremony of the second Pacific Partnership 2019 (PP19) mission stop in Tacloban, Philippines, on March 22, 2019.

“Each Pacific Partnership line of effort — engineering, medical, host nation outreach, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief — has been instrumental in working alongside their Philippine counterparts for a greater good,” said Capt. Randy Van Rossum, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 1, the mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2019. “They’ve worked collaboratively to enhance host nation capability, build regional relationships and exercise a collective ability to respond to disaster emergencies.”

During the two-week mission stop in the Philippines, U.S., partner nation military members and nongovernmental organization volunteers conducted more than 40 subject matter expert exchanges, worked more than 1,500 hours on two evacuation center construction projects, hosted 15 U.S. Pacific Fleet and host nation band performances, engaged with more than 7,000 Tacloban students and residents, and included more than 300 personnel in the final collaborative disaster relief exercise.

“Alone, we can do so little,” said Jerry Yaokasin, vice mayor of the city of Tacloban. “But we’ve proven here that together, all of us, we can do so much. Not only for a safer Indo-Pacific region, but for a better world. Thank you for making a difference.”

(Pictured: U.S. Navy Capt. Randy Van Rossum, left, Pacific Partnership 2019 (PP19) mission commander, receives a gift from Philippine Navy Rear Adm. Samuel Felix, Armed Forces of the Philippines, J9, deputy chief of staff, during the PP19 closing ceremony to conclude the Philippines mission stop.)

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.

The Philippines is one of several host nations for Pacific Partnership 2019. The Pacific Partnership mission teams will also make stops in the Federated States of Micronesia, Malaysia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. 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’s mission is to work 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 region. Pacific Partnership, now in its 14th iteration, is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region.