Pacific Partnership is at the forefront of a concept that is gaining international respect: the association and cooperation of civilian and military personnel to build international relations and to strengthen civil society among like-minded nations. In a rare example of synergy, Pacific Partnership missions have created and fostered networks, often based entirely on personal contacts, which are magnifying and broadening the concepts of Pacific Partnership mission statements and goals.
I recently saw a note on Facebook from the director of an organization that provides mosquito nets to malarial areas. The director praised one of our U.S. Navy Pacific Partnership 2011 (PP11) doctors for his ongoing support of international anti-malarial efforts. That work and relationship began when the doctor was a part of PP09. Similarly, the Loloma Foundation, created by an American surgeon in San Diego in memory of her uncle, who remains entombed on the USS Quincy in Guadalcanal's "Iron Bottom Sound," cooperated with PP09 to provide surgical treatment to patients referred to Loloma by Pacific Partnership medical teams. Every Pacific Partnership mission to date has been a catalyst, resulting in numerous follow-on procedures and projects, many of them carried out entirely by individuals or local groups, or through arrangements made outside of the mission itself.
Commodore Jesse Wilson made it very clear during months of preparation for PP2011, and during his pre-mission visits to the Pacific Island region, that all of us are carrying out projects in areas identified by the host countries themselves, with the assistance of local leaders, local NGOs, local businesses, and local villages. Since our arrival April 28 in Luganville, a city of 15,000 people on the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, we have interacted with ni-Vanuatu (as the people of Vanuatu are known) throughout the island. A group of local village chiefs made presentations at the opening ceremony, and short speeches were given by representatives of Vanuatu, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. A small group of U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, each one living and working on Espiritu Santo during his or her two-year assignment, have assisted with everything from translation to advice on cultural differences. We are all here for slightly different reasons, but are working together for something everyone is striving for -- a more cooperative and brighter future for a world that is ever more interconnected, engaged, and too often ravaged by uncontrollable forces of nature.