BENGKULU, Indonesia – U.S. and partner nation service members participating in Pacific Partnership 2018 arrived in Bengkulu, Indonesia aboard the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) March 29.
The mission in Bengkulu will continue through April 12 and will feature mission personnel working side-by-side with Indonesian medical professionals, participating in civil engineering projects, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) readiness drills, and partnering in community outreach engagements in the local Bengkulu community.
“We are excited to be working with our friends in Bengkulu,” said Capt. David Bretz, Pacific Partnership mission commander. “This port visit is designed to continue our strong partnership with the military and the people of Indonesia. I look forward to learning from one another and strengthing the bond between our two countries during the different exercises and events scheduled to take place.”
During the opening ceremony of the Pacific Partnership at the Bengkulu Governor’s Office on April 2 Ambassador Donovan said “This exercise is truly a partnership among Pacific nations and during their stop here in Indonesia, more than 800 military and civilian personnel from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, France, South Korea, Singapore, and Japan will participate. These men and women will work side-by-side with Indonesian military personnel and members of the local Bengkulu community to improve capacity, enhance regional partnerships, and increase multilateral cooperation for disaster preparedness.”
Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral disaster response preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. This year’s mission includes military and civilian personnel from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Peru, Sri Lanka and Japan.
Ambassador Donovan stressed that “Most importantly, Pacific Partnership continues to strengthen our regional relationships, which we all know are the key to improving our collective ability to respond to major disasters. We learned in the devastating aftermath of the 2004 tsunami the importance of a unified multilateral civil-military cooperation among Pacific partnering nations and what we can accomplish if we work together. The Indo-Pacific is within what scientists call the “Pacific Ring of Fire” – it is not about if, but when, we will need to work collectively again to combat a major disaster.”
After Indonesia, USNS Mercy will make mission stops in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Japan strengthening alliances, partnerships, and multilateral cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific region.