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How the U.S. is Helping Others! Pacific Partnership, DoD Blogger Roundtable

USNS Mercy off Indonesian Coast - Photo Credit Below
It was a visual I clearly saw as Captain James Morgan reminded us of the 2004 massive earthquake and tsunami and the tragic events and impact on the Indian Ocean countries (has it really been almost eight years?). The destruction and human misery was beyond our understanding. The plight of the survivors with no water, no food, raw sewage everywhere, clothes sometimes stripped off them and trying to find family members who had been separated was just heart rendering. The fantastic international response also reminded me of the Haitian earthquake and how the US military supported the effort to save lives and give the Haitian people hope! We blogged the story for our military families numerous times including an interview with Lt General Keen, the Task Force Commander. 

Captain James Morgan
During a DoD Blogger Roundtable yesterday US Navy Captain James Morgan told us how the US was preparing and coordinating for humanitarian responses in Southeast Asia. The tsunami in 2004 had demonstrated that the humanitarian response by numerous nations and non-governmental organizations needed to be better organized. The Pacific Partnership exercise was the child of this effort to assist and it kicked off in 2006, dedicated to host nation and NGO participation. The Department of Defense press information said,


“Pacific Partnership is the largest annual humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Asia-Pacific region, designed to strengthen regional relationships and increase interoperability between the United States, partner nations, and international humanitarian and relief organizations.”

Captain Morgan has been designated the Mission Commander with the USNS Mercy as his flag ship. Home based out of San Diego, the Mercy is one of two hospital ships in the US Navy. With its crew, medical staff and a helicopter detachment of two MH-60s there are about 1,000 personnel on board for Pacific Partnership which kicks off on May 1st. The exercise will include 14 day visits to four nations: Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and Indonesia with a full range of medical and civic affairs exercises at each. Their efforts will focus on coordination with host nation medical and the non governmental organizations. For the first time, this year’s exercise will include a Civilian Military Coordination Center on board to plan and coordinate medical and training events specifically 24 to 72 hours ahead of the activity.

USNS Sailors - See Below for Photo Credit
But PP is not just training! The ship will conduct surgery (100-150 at each port), care for chronic and acute illnesses of host nation personnel, host medical symposiums for medical personnel to exchange ideas for medical care, build on host nation/NGO medical capacity and strengthen relationships with participants.

The 700 uniformed medical staff has been sourced from Navy hospitals and include surgical specialties such as orthopedics, OB/GYN, pediatrics, general...++. The host nation medical and NGOs bring their own capabilities as well to the Navy’s large shipboard hospital! The Mercy was originally designed as an oil tanker to demonstrate how big this ship is!

We also heard from Captain Timothy Hinman, Medical Treatment Facility Commanding Officer; and Captain Jonathan Olmsted, Ship's Master for USNS MERCY (T-AH-19), Military Sealift Command during the Roundtable as each spoke of their capabilities. The Military Sealift Command with 70 civilian mariners operates and maintains the Mercy and Captain Hinman commands the 700 member medical team.

Captain Morgan closed with how Pacific Partner relationships and experiences help and how the concept was validated during the response to the Japanese tsunami disaster. He said they were “excited, going to do good things" during the exercise. 

This was a great Blogger Roundtable and an audio is available at DoDLive!  A big thank you to the three Captains for taking the time to talk with us!  As they participate in Pacific Partnership all promised to update us with interview opportunities to tell us how they are making our world a better place.  




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Photo Credit: Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) is anchored off the coast of Ternate, Indonesia, July 20, 2010. Mercy was in the North Maluku islands of Indonesia conducting Pacific Partnership 2010, the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet endeavors conducted in Indonesia to strengthen regional partnerships. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eddie Harrison/Released)


Photo Credit:  Captain James Morgan DoDLive

Photo Credit: U.S. Sailors assigned to the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) unload donated personal hygiene kits for children at the Rumah Sejahtera Bagi Anak Orphanage in Tobelo, Indonesia, July 14, 2010. The Sailors took part in Pacific Partnership 2010, the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet endeavors conducted in Indonesia as a disaster relief exercise aimed at strengthening regional partnerships. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Jackson/Released)

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for this. It's so important to remember that our service members are trained, like our community policemen, to serve, protect, and help.

    We often don't hear about how many times ONLY service members are able to go into desperate areas world-wide to help out because it's too dangerous for anybody else to be there. I have service member friends who have served during the crises in Haiti, Libya, Egypt, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and more... they don't get into the newspapers mostly because media members don't really understand what our DoD members are there for, other than "fighting".

    Media ignorance is too bad. Kind of like being convinced that all lawyers only defend criminals, forgetting their many other services, like protecting and defending people's human rights.

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  2. I so agree, Barbara. My husband is actually a lawyer and a soldier so you hit home with that end-note. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

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