Pacific Partnership 2018, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) preparedness mission, kicked off aboard the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Brunswick (T-EPF-6) in Pattaya, Thailand, May 20.
This will be the first time Thailand hosts Pacific Partnership since the exercise series’ first iteration in 2006. Over 130 military personnel from the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia will conduct medical, dental and veterinary subject matter expert exchanges at the Queen Sirikit Naval Hospital while working side-by-side with local professionals and non-governmental organizations on HA/DR readiness.
The medical team will share knowledge and experiences on topics ranging from obstetric trauma emergencies, rheumatology and pediatric trauma to nursing care and veterinary education. The civil affairs team from the U.S. Army 83rd Civil Affairs Battalion will be conducting a joint symposium and tabletop exercise with Royal Thai Armed Forces counterparts to practice disaster response and preparedness.
“We are here because, like our U.S. colleagues, we are committed to increasing multilateral cooperation and partnership across the region,” said Royal Navy Capt. Peter Olive, Deputy Mission Commander of Pacific Partnership 2018. “Working together with you, our gracious hosts, we therefore hope to build mutual understanding of how better to respond to natural disasters in the future.”
Thailand is considered U.S.’ oldest regional ally as both U.S. and Royal Thai Armed Forces continue to conduct increasingly sophisticated annual engagements including the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise which began in 1995, Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) involving more than a dozen nations and Cobra Gold, Asia-Pacific’s largest multinational exercise.
“I would like to thank the U.S. Government, Pacific Command and other allies that have made this project happen,” said Royal Thai Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Suthon Muanpithak, Directorate of Joint Operations.
Pacific Partnership, in its 13th iteration, began as a humanitarian response to the 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of Southeast Asia. By building on the region’s shared goal to strengthen national capacities and preparedness for disaster response, 22 partner nations around the globe in 18 host nations in the region have participated since 2006.
Brunswick has visited Yap, Palau, Malaysia and Singapore as part of the Pacific Partnership 2018 mission to develop sustainable projects on a range of topics that enable critical infrastructure development across the region. So far, the crew have conducted over 100 medical engagements and subject matter expert exchanges, and nearly 20 engineering projects and 100 community relations and band performances.
“Pacific Partnership 2018 will enhance interoperability for quick response of unexpected disasters,” said Suthon. “This exercise will be long lasting in our memories.”
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.