KOROR, Palau – Commander, Joint Region Marianas, Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, spoke at Pacific Partnership 2018's closing ceremony aboard expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6) in the Republic of Palau, April 14.
Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) preparedness mission in the world.
“These bonds will stand the test of time; this friendship will stand the test of time,” said Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, Commander, Joint Region Marianas. “They allow us to continue building our multinational partnerships for the future of this whole region.”
Chatfield also asserted the enduring U.S. commitment to Palau under the Compact of Free Association.
"Under the Compact of Free Association, the United States is committed to defending the safety of Palau and her citizens. We consider foreign threats to your nation a threat to our nation and we will stand by you unflinchingly."
The U.S. and Palau continue a strong relationship with approximately 500 Palauans currently serving in the U.S. armed forces. Three Palauans, U.S. Navy Chief Logistics Specialist Techur Johanes and Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Glenda Techur, and U.S. Coast Guard Chief Electrician's Mate Truman Skang, participated in this year's Pacific Partnership mission.
“We appreciate and [are] grateful to the U.S. for making this significant mission possible as well as the partner nations United Kingdom, Australia and Japan,” said His Excellency Raynold Oilouch, Vice President for the Republic of Palau.
More than 134 military personnel from the U.S., United Kingdom, Japan and Australia conducted 54 medical engagements and subject matter exchanges, nearly a dozen engineering projects and 44 community relations and band performances, along with subject matter exchanges with local professionals on HA/DR readiness.
The medical team of audiologists, veterinarians, primary care physicians, medical technicians, dentists, dental technicians and nurses conducted Community Health Engagements at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center and health clinics in Ngaremlengui, Melekeok, Ngerchelong and Peleliu, providing health screenings to nearly 900 patients, dental care to more than 200 patients and optometry support to more than 350 patients.
Twenty-eight Seabees from Amphibious Construction Battalion 1 worked alongside the community at George B. Harris Elementary School. Projects included re-painting five buildings and three roofs to reflect heat and keep classrooms cooler, expanding a 240-square foot walkway, and constructing nearly 300 feet of overhead canopies along the school’s most heavily-trafficked walkways to shield students from the rain and sun.
U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Army, as well as other multinational personnel conducted a maritime search and rescue exercise with the Palau Department of Maritime Law Enforcement and Palau Maritime Rangers during a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief event. With more than 70 service members and local Palauans taking part in the training, the exercise increased Palau’s capability to deal with a hazard event and enhanced the joint interoperability between U.S. and its partner nations.
U.S. Sailors and Marines and staff members from the Japanese Self-Defense Force also held a wreath-laying ceremony at the Peleliu Peace Memorial Park to commemorate the Battle of Peleliu. The ceremony included remarks and a joint wreath-laying at the concrete cenotaph erected to memorialize all those who perished on Peleliu in World War II. The ceremony was followed by a visit to the Peleliu Elementary School with sports and a band performance by the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet “Deep Six” brass band.
“I believe, together, we have strengthened multilateral cooperation between the peoples of the Pacific region as well as those from further afield who hold dear the value of countries cooperating around a common cause by working together as international partners for the good of all,” said Capt. Peter Olive, Deputy Mission Commander for Pacific Partnership 2018.
The Palau mission stop came after two weeks in Yap, Federated States of Micronesia with 51 medical engagements and subject matter exchanges, 6 engineering projects and 22 community relations and band performances along with subject matter exchanges on HA/DR readiness.
The Pacific Partnership team aboard Brunswick will be heading to Malaysia to continue the mission to strengthen national capacities and preparedness for disaster response.
Brunswick is one of three expeditionary fast transport ships in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to continue its mission of providing rapid intra-theater transport of troops and military equipment. Specially configured for humanitarian and disaster relief operations, Brunswick is currently capable of accommodating a robust multi-specialized team of medical, engineering and civic assistance personnel to support the Pacific Partnership mission.
Since 2006, 22 partner nations around the globe in 18 host nations have participated in Pacific Partnership providing medical care to more than 300,000 patients, veterinary services to nearly 40,000 animals and completed nearly 200 engineering projects while building meaningful and close partnerships throughout the region.