About the Author: Tom Weinz is the dedicated Foreign Service Liaison Officer for Pacific Partnership 2010.
Nearly 200 planners representing six countries, eight international NGOs, several U.S. Government departments and agencies and the United States Navy met in San Diego on March 23 -- 25 to put the finishing touches on the concepts of operations (CONOPS) for Pacific Partnership 2010. (PP10) PP10 will be the most ambitious mission to date, will bring unprecedented participation by NGOs and partner nations, and will deliver services on a level not attempted during past PP missions.
Pacific Partnership missions have emphasized either medical or engineering projects, depending on the ship used to carry the mission. This year, with both the Japanese and Australian navies providing supplementary ships, and the U.S. Navy sending a grey hull and a frigate to the nations of Palau and Papua New Guinea respectively, PP10 will offer all the medical services of the USNS Mercy's floating hospital, as well as the engineering capabilities enhanced by supporting ships and landing craft. In addition, the Navy engineers (SeaBees) will undertake a project near and dear to my heart: drilling water wells and providing piped/running water at several locations in Cambodia.
I have been asked repeatedly why Mercy, or this flotilla, is not going to Haiti? For two essential reasons: First, there are people all over the world who live in difficult conditions, and lack access to even basic health care. In the Solomon Islands, there is one physician for every 28,000 inhabitants. (See the excellent article by Dr. Eileen Natuzi of the Loloma Foundation, who followed PP09 to the Solomon Islands last summer.) The Government of Haiti, the United States and the international community remain committed to Haiti's future. You can read more about the recent Haiti Donors' Conference and international response here. Second, Pacific Partnership addresses one of the primary criticisms following each major international disaster -- that response time is too slow. By working with as many partner nations as possible, and working in countries considered most vulnerable to natural disasters, Pacific Partnership continues to break down barriers to international cooperation and build trust among partner nations and recipient nations alike. And it demonstrates that governments, militaries, NGOs and concerned volunteers can work together smoothly and efficiently to provide sustainable projects and subject matter exchanges which benefit both individuals and in-country organizations struggling to provide better living conditions worldwide.
If there are aspects of Pacific Partnership about which you would like to know more, or you wish to comment on anything, please let me know.
Related Entry:U.S. Announces Pacific Partnership 2010