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U.S. Pacific Command Blog

An official site sponsored by U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) and managed by the PACOM Public Affairs Office. The PACOM Blog is intended to highlight and discuss issues that pertain to the PACOM mission and strategy as well as serve as a forum for discussion

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Pacific Endeavor; improving interoperability and building relationships

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 22:21:00 +0000

by Lt. Theresa Donnelly, Pacific Command Public Affairs Getting the opportunity to travel overseas is something I always love to do. In fact, being in the military often gives me these chances. However, what is really fulfilling for me is seeing the Pacific Command strategy in action.This was the case a couple weeks back when I traveled to Singapore to promote Pacific Endeavor, a humanitarian communication workshop with 16 Asia-Pacific nations hosted by the Singapore Armed Forces and U.S. Pacific Command. Held Aug. 16-27, Pacific Endeavor used a real-life scenario (a massive earthquake in metro Manila) to access and document how countries would use communication technologies most effectively during a natural disaster.Pacific Endeavor demonstrated to me that ideas can start out small and then make a big impact. Let me explain. In 2002, Ricardo Layne was working in the Pacific Command communications directorate (J6) and had the thought that if he could network with military communicators from the Asia-Pacific region, he would increase the military’s ability to rapidly respond to a variety of war fighting contingencies and natural disasters. In 2003, a handful of nations came to Hawaii and held a conference. Although not officially named Pacific Endeavor, the idea was hatched. At first, the conference centered on technical ways to merry up communication technologies among participating nations, but today this mission has greatly expanded.Now, each year 22 nations are invited (16 attended this year) to what has become an operational workshop under PACOM’s multinational communication interoperability program. The workshop included a real-life scenario and humanitarian organizations and private industry played key roles, demonstrating how they set up communications during a natural disaster. Countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Mongolia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia, Maldives, Brunei and New Zealand are some of the nations that make up this diverse collection of people who came to Singapore for one common purpose – agreed upon communication procedures to save lives in a natural disaster.What was amazing about this workshop is that it speaks to what the U.S. military is all about – building strategic partnerships with other countries. By understanding one another and how other nations communicate, we prevent misunderstandings and more importantly, I think we can even prevent armed conflicts. With the enormous amount of commerce (about 1.5 trillion dollars yearly) that flows through the Asia-Pacific region through regional trade, it is imperative nations find ways to establish positive relationships. This, in my view, is the only way to ensure long-term regional stability and security. This policy speaks to the heart of why I am proud to serve in the military, specifically at U.S. Pacific Command. Achieving a common operational picture puts every country at the solution to common issues and allows us to share best practices with one another.With the Asia-Pacific region so prone to weather-related disasters, it only makes sense that we train with other nations on our preplanned disaster responses. Pacific Endeavor lays the ground work for an increased focus for furthering our partnerships. And not only partnerships with other countries, but with non-governmental organizations and private industry. Going forward, my hope is that more countries and NGOs will take part in Pacific Endeavor, as well as more private industry; as they too play a key advisement role in emerging technologies which greatly enhances the communication field. We should also invite other key directorates, such as exercise planning and operations.So as mentioned earlier, a little idea from one PACOM directorate is now having a big impact. This year, workshop planners employed web 2.0 technologies such as All Partners Access Network (APAN) and used state-of-the-art routers to demonstrate procedures to communicate quickly. Rapid communications in a natural disaster is everything to effective[...]

Personal Perspectives: A Deployment to Southern Philippines

Thu, 13 May 2010 21:05:00 +0000

After assigned to Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) for just one week, on Sept. 27, 2009 I found myself standing in the middle of a massive flooding fiasco in metro Manila, surrounding by thousands of desperate people, watching the city rescue units and the Armed Forces of the Philippines bring their loved ones safely out of the rising water. Homes were engulfed, people were crying out for rescuers to save their families, and all I could do was watch the devastation unfold in front of me. At this point, most of the city was underwater, engulfed after Tropical Storm Ondoy came through there with a vengeance, wiping out homes, destroying people’s livelihoods, and forcing people to abandon their animals and cherished belongings. Standing amongst these people at the end of a water-filled bridge in Cainta, with my large NIKON 40D camera and bulky, detachable flash (which I barely knew how to use at the time) wrapped loosely around my neck, I had trouble moving through the crowd of rain-soaked people. I could see debris washed up at the end of the bridge, which dumped into brown, murky water. Belongings floated in the water alongside rescue boats. Some of those I saw didn’t even have shoes on, and most people’s clothes were soaked with rain and mud. I could only imagine the sorrow they must have felt for everything they had just lost. But I was grateful military troops from my command, a U.S. Navy SEAL team, were there to do their part and help with the on-going crisis. By the following morning, numerous media reports confirmed that hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless as the death count began to rise. According to the Philippines National Disaster Coordinating Council, more than four million people were affected by the storm and it was responsible for nearly 700 deaths. What an introduction to what the Navy calls an Individual Augmentee assignment. IAs are active duty and Reserve Sailors and Marines who leave their assigned commands to fill individual billet requirements for various combatant commanders around the world. Tropical Storm Ondoy was the first time I had ever witnessed, first-hand how the military performs Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR). During that night I was on that bridge, I watched our SEAL team rescue dozens of people from their flood-soaked homes. At around midnight, they managed to pull a pregnant woman in labor from her home and bring her to a waiting ambulance via two F470 Zodiac boats. This was my first assignment as deputy public affairs officer for JSOTF-P. I ended up writing a story and shooting pictures that night, which later were uploaded to and appeared in multiple national outlets. It was an unforgettable experience and I was proud to serve in an organization that was doing what it could to help all these people. I served for a six-month deployment in Zamboanga, located in the southern Philippines, working as the deputy Public Affairs Officer (PAO). Working in this capacity was truly an honor and an unforgettable experience. At the request of the Philippine government, the mission of JSOTF-P is to work with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and local governments to help counter terrorism and improve conditions necessary for economic stability. How JSOTF-P accomplishes this goal is done in a variety of ways. One method is to hold information exchanges with U.S. troops and the AFP as well as the (PNP). Another approach is through humanitarian construction projects, such as building roads, constructing schools and digging wells. JSOTF-P also advises and assists with medical outreach missions, via veterinarian, dental, and medical civic action projects. My job as a PAO was to promote these efforts via press releases, imagery, video, as well as interacting with local media. Then, our team of two PAOs would share these products with Philippine and U.S. audiences via newspapers, social media and local TV coverage. Our team coordina[...]

U.S. and Laos Co-Host Multinational Pandemic Influenza Workshop

Mon, 12 Apr 2010 01:38:00 +0000

(image) Major infectious disease outbreaks in Asia are being placed under the microscope during a series of workshops co-hosted by the U.S. and Laos. This multinational "Pandemic Influenza Civil-Military Senior Planners Workshop" from 6-9 April, 2010, included more than 45 civilian and military medical professionals from 12 nations. Participating nations include Cambodia, the Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

Part of the discussion included how H1N1 spread so quickly outside of Mexico last year. Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) lead for the pandemic influenza workshop series, Andy Bates, thinks this is "because a local surveillance system was lacking." As a result, Laos presented on its newly instituted pandemic community surveillance network to other countries in the region. Bates thinks this knowledge sharing and collaboration may provide an opportunity to contain an infectious disease before it spreads to the general population. After all, the goal of the four-day workshop involved strategizing to integrate civilian and military resources into contingency planning for major infectious disease outbreaks at the national, provincial, and district level. The COE plans to execute a series of bilateral workshops to take pandemic influenza lessons learned to the community level in several Asia-Pacific countries later this year.

Bates added, "All the countries that were not able to attend [last year's] workshop have been invited to this one. Material from the [that] workshop, as well as additional lessons learned from last year's H1N1 outbreak are being covered."

This workshop is part of the ongoing cooperation by the U.S. Embassy in Laos, the U.S. Department's of Defense's (DoD) Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) on behalf of the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) with the Lao Ministry of Health, Lao National Emerging Infectious Disease Coordinating Office (NEIDCO) and the People's Army Military Medical Department.

The 2010 multi-event pandemic workshop series is the result of an inter-agency agreement between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE-DMHA) was established by the US Congress in 1994 to facilitate civil-military management in international disaster management and humanitarian assistance. It partners with a wide variety of national and international governmental, non-governmental and international organizations to provide relevant education, training, coordination and research.

COE-DMHA, a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) organization, is a direct reporting unit to the US military's Pacific Command (USPACOM) and is establishing field offices at global Combatant Commands (COCOMs) to promote global disaster preparedness and resiliency. (image)

Big Island hosts USPACOM International Military Lawyer Conference

Fri, 02 Apr 2010 03:02:00 +0000

Today, Pacific Command's 23rd annual Military Operations and Law Conference (MILOPS) wraps up on the Big Island, Hawaii. MILOPS is a yearly meeting of legal professionals from countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. With 26 nations represented, this year's conference covered a broad spectrum of complex issues facing the Asia-Pacific region from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to counter proliferation to Information Operations and cyber warfare.

While not a legal professional, my leadership gave me the opportunity to attend this year's conference to get a different perspective on the challenges facing our area of responsibility. As a Public Affairs Officer, I routinely work closely with our legal staff to ensure our desire to disseminate accurate and timely information is just that, accurate. The complexity of some of the issues we face in this region are extraordinary. What this "outsider" took great comfort in was the diverse group of committed men and women in attendance. Their passion for their profession and for the region as a whole was palpable.

Admiral Robert Willard, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, opened the conference on Monday lauding the participants' dedication to the rule of law and their willingness to come together to discuss difficult legal and policy issues confronting the region. He credited exchanges such as the MILOPS conference for directly affecting the region's readiness to conduct successful operations.

More than 200 attended the conference from Australia, Thailand, India, Loas, Malaysia, Canada, Japan, the UK, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Bangladesh, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Vietnam, Tonga, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Mongolia, Maldives, and of course the United States.

If asked for the most significant take away from this conference, remembering I'm an outsider, it would simply be the resounding theme throughout the week of a need for collaboration between all nations to address myriad complex issues facing the region. There was tacit agreement in all the discussions and panel presentations that to continue to maintain the security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, nations must work together.

Capt. Matt Hasson

COE Hosts Global Pandemic Influenza Workshops

Sat, 27 Feb 2010 02:34:00 +0000

In the event of a global pandemic, militaries around the world would expect to be called upon by governments to support civilian first-responders. In order to maintain this type of readiness, The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) plans to conduct pandemic influenza workshops in 11 countries throughout the Asia Pacific region in conjunction with the US military's Pacific Command (USPACOM) and Africa Command (AFRICOM).

From Feb. 24 to 26, initial workshops were held bringing together representatives from Asian-Pacific and African militaries. Workshop delegates were focused on putting together a planning guide for militaries and civilian planners in response to a possible influenza pandemic.

The week-long event was part of a workshop series derived from an agreement between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Defense (DoD) designed to improve pandemic influenza (PI) response in the Asia-Pacific and African regions .

"This is the most senior multinational event in the USAID / DOD Pandemic Influenza series worldwide, with representatives from Africa, Asia, UN and US DOD," said Andy Bates, COE lead for the PI workshop series.

The primary focus was to facilitate the creation of guidelines by national governments themselves that can be tailored to their respective countries' needs. Civilian and military leaders from more than 23 Asia-Pacific and 16 African participants, representing government organizations, institutes, and their militaries , attended. Key players included the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), the UN World Food Program (WFP), the UN World Health Organization (WHO) the US Joint Task Force Homeland Defense, USAFRICOM and US NORTHCOM from the North American region.

The COE was established by the US Congress in 1994 to facilitate civil-military management in international disaster management and humanitarian assistance. It partners with a wide variety of national and international governmental, non-governmental and international organizations to provide relevant education, training, coordination and research. COE has coordinated and executed pandemic influenza workshops on behalf of USPACOM in the Asia Pacific since 2007.(image)

Cobra Gold, Lessons Learned on Disaster Relief

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 02:35:00 +0000

In a DOD Bloggers Roundtable on Feb. 2. Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, discussed the importance of military exercise Cobra Gold.

Cobra Gold is one of the best and most important exercises that we do as
part of
U.S. Pacific
...[it] highlights many of the activities that we do in the
Asia-Pacific region, a region that is extremely important to the United States,
obviously economically, but also from a standpoint of security, peace, and
stability on its effect on the U.S. "
Sponsored by PACOM and the Royal Thai Supreme Command, the three-week exercise started on Monday and includes a command post exercise, a series of medical and engineering civic action projects, and joint and combined field training. Much of the discussion during the DOD Bloggers Roundtable centered around Cobra Gold's history, new and future participants, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief efforts, force protection, and lessons learned.

Lt. Gen. Mixon added, "The exercise is important not only because it is one of the largest--if not the largest--multilateral exercises, but it also involves the first-ever deployment of the contingency command post...we envision this deployable command post to be involved in military operations...such as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, peacekeeping and peace enforcement types of operations."

Lt. Gen. Mixon identified a shortfall during humanitarian assistance/disaster relief efforts during the recent natural disasters that struck the Philippines, Indonesia, and American Samoa. "One of the shortfalls that I felt like we had on the Army side was a fairly capable land-based command post that could set up very rapidly, work with the host nation and NGOs and establish communications and control..."

He added, "Lessons learned from my headquarters: Regional cooperation is always we continue to do this training, we will only get better at the ability to respond rapidly and then to work together with all the other governmental agencies that would be involved in disaster relief."

The bloggers present during the DoD Bloggers Roundtable are as follows: Dale Kissinger,; Grim,; Jim Dolbow,; and Shaun Tandon, The full transcript can be found here.(image)

Cobra Gold Brings Multiple Nations Together for Training

Sat, 30 Jan 2010 00:12:00 +0000

(image) Exercise Cobra Gold (website), in its 29th year, begins Monday, with service members from Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and the U.S. as guests of host Thailand.

Sponsored by PACOM and the Royal Thai Supreme Command, the three-week exercise includes a command post exercise, a series of medical and engineering civic action projects, and joint and combined field training.

Observer Nations

The Command Post exercise focuses on training a Thai, U.S., Singaporean, Indonesian, and Republic of Korean coalition task force. The exercise also includes Japan participating within a United Nations Force (UNF) staff. A team comprised of representatives from Brunei, Chile, China, Germany, Laos, Mongolia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam will observe the command post exercise at the invitation of Thailand.


Among Cobra Gold 10’s objectives is training PACOM’s rapid deployment of a joint task force and subsequent coordination with U.N. forces, with the aim of improving PACOM’s ability to conduct multinational operations and increasing interoperability with partner nations.

“Thailand is one of our closest friends and partners in Asia, as well as being our oldest ally in Asia,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commander, U.S. Army, Pacific, (follow USARPAC on Twitter) who is leading the exercise for the U.S. “The Cobra Gold exercise is the largest multi-lateral joint military exercise in the world.”(image)

Collaborative Efforts Results in New Facilities, Road in Southern Philippines

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 23:34:00 +0000

A new birthing clinic, elementary school, and a road are among the most recent projects to be completed in the southern Philippines through the cooperative efforts of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and local officials.

On Jan. 14, the school, which will accommodate 250 students, and the road in Sulu province were turned over during a ceremony. The school was constructed primarily by U.S. Navy civil engineers (Seabees) with security provided by AFP Marines. The five-kilometer road was build by local contractors with funding from JSOTF-P.

(image) A birthing center was dedicated in Zamboanga City, also on Jan. 14. The four-room facility will provide low-cost prenatal and postpartum care. The clinic is also designed to accommodate normal deliveries and provide immunizations for young children. Mein College, which is managing the clinic, has a long history of partnership with the AFP and JSOTF-P. “The opening of this clinic will be a huge benefit for the people and families using this facility. But, it is also a victory in Zamboanga in that it represents what is possible when responsible citizens and organizations collaborate for the good of the community,” said JSOTF-P’s Chief of Staff Air Force Lt. Col. David Smith.

A variety of community ogranizations provided support during the two-year development of the birthing center, including the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command, Naval Forces Western Mindanao, and JSOTF-P.

At the request of the Government of the Philippines, JSOTF-P provides support to the AFP in several areas, including enhancing the AFP’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance to terrorist-inflicted communities, and through tactical training programs.For the latest updates on JSOTF-P and it’s collaboration with AFP, follow the command on Twitter, or on its website.(image)

Recognizing 50 Years of Partnership between Japan and the United States

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 23:52:00 +0000

“As we celebrate the anniversary of the treaty, we pay tribute to its role in supporting regional security and prosperity, and strengthening our two democracies. Let us now undertake to renew our alliance for the 21st century and enhance the bonds of friendship and common purpose that unite our nations.” President Barack Obama

Today, Jan. 19, marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the U.S. and Japan.

In a statement released by the White House, President Obama said, “The enduring partnership between the United States of America and Japan has helped bring unprecedented prosperity and peace in freedom to our nations. Our alliance has secured extraordinary benefits for the entire Asia Pacific region and made possible the unparalleled progress of the past five decades.”

In an article that appeared in both the International Herald Tribune and Asahi Shimbun, and available on the U.S. Embassy website, U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos stressed the critical nature of the treaty, signed in Washington in 1960.

“The interests of both the United States and Japan continue to be well served by the alliance,” Ambassador Roos wrote. “The alliance has endured for a half-century precisely because each partner derives benefits from it.”

Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, Minister for Foreign Affairs Okada, and Minister of Defense Kitazawa also issued a joint statement, affirming that "the U.S.-Japan Alliance plays an indispensable role in ensuring the security and prosperity of both the United States and Japan, as well as regional peace and stability."

For more on the U.S.-Japan Alliance, visit the U.S. Embassy’s webpage marking the anniversary of the security treaty.


YOKOSUKA, Japan (Jan. 19, 2010) – Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. John M. Bird, and Commander-in-Chief Self Defense Fleet, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), Vice Adm. Masahiko Sugimoto hold commemorative plaques honoring the 50th anniversary of the alliance between the United States and Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Mitchell)

How Social Media Helped PACOM in 2009

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 18:24:00 +0000

This past year, a lot of things have happened within PACOM's Area of Responsibility (AOR).In the last three months alone, we've seen the value of social media in connecting us with people around the world as we carry out our mission in the Asia-Pacific region. We are thankful for those who have helped us spread the word via retweeting/reposting our messages primarily via Twitter and Facebook, most especially during our Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief operations in the Philippines, Indonesia, and American Samoa, this past October.While it was good to see how much our daily Disaster Relief Fact sheets and Flickr photos were used and shared online, it was even more amazing to see how people came together in a time of crisis to help each other out.A picture is truly worth a thousand words, and it’s a great way to show the various activities of our Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy service members around the AOR, such as participating in local community projects and outreach programs, leading or participating in joint military exercises, building relationships and collaborating with other countries to prepare for large-scale natural disasters, sharing best practices with local authorities to promote peace and security, and more recently, spreading the holiday cheer.We are always moved by the comments that we receive, and we would like to thank our social media friends for amplifying our messages through the “likes” and reposts on Facebook, as well as via the mentions and retweets on Twitter, especially during #militarymonday and #followfriday. We get to hear of your support for our troops (#SOT on Twitter) not just on special occasions but every day!Social media has definitely helped PACOM in telling stories that are often untold via traditional sources, but more importantly, it has helped us in connecting with you. We have certainly learned a lot, and we are looking forward to learning how we can further develop our social media efforts in 2010.What are ways in which we can better connect with you this new year? What’s on your mind? We’d love to hear your thoughts![...]

Service Members Brighten Spirits of Philippine Children

Tue, 29 Dec 2009 01:39:00 +0000

(image) Twenty members of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) spent a holiday evening visiting children at the Social Development Center in Zamboanga City Dec. 23.

As explained in a Manila Bulletin story, JSOTF-P volunteers started the evening playing games and singing Christmas carols with the nearly 60 children at the center. Later, the children received Christmas stockings and ate popcorn while watching movies. When the movies ended, the kids were led upstairs so they could see for the first time new bedding that had been donated by members of the task force.

In addition to this visit, over the past few months approximately 100 JSOTF-P volunteers have helped with painting the boys' and girls' rooms. At the time, volunteers noted that the children also needed new bedding, mattresses and draperies. From that point, a collection was taken and dozens of JSOTF-P service members contributed to a fund which paid for new bedding and drapes, courtesy of the Western Mindanao Command tailor.

Founded in 1994, the center serves as a residential facility for children who are abandoned, neglected, orphaned or abused. The children there receive personal care and rehabilitative services with the hopes that they will eventually be reintegrated back to their families and communities.

To learn more about JSOTF-P, visit the command’s website.

International Audience Discusses Disaster Management in Indonesia

Tue, 22 Dec 2009 19:12:00 +0000

Participants from more than 10 nations and both the civil and military sectors took part in an Indonesian Armed Forces and PACOM co-hosted regional disaster management emergency response workshop in Indonesia over earlier this month.

(image) Called Southeast Asia Disaster Management Cooperation (SEADMC) 2009, the two-part workshop began in the capital Jakarta Dec. 2-3, and focused on examining international and regional disaster response mechanisms and capabilities. This included input from the broad range of participants, including government and military officials, as well as organizations such as the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), World Food Program, the International Red Cross and International Red Crescent, and other non-governmental organizations. The group also examined the supporting role of militaries in disasters, with an ultimate goal of identifying ways to improve efforts among the various organizations.

During the second part of the workshop in Banten Province, Dec. 7-11, the group conducted a scenario-driven (see the presentation outlining the scenario) table top exercise and developed an emergency response plan, as well as a provincial disaster management/emergency response standard operation procedure (SOP).

U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Cameroon Hume; Indonesia’s Chief of Defence Gen. Djoko Santoso; U.S. Navy Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet; and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Tom, PACOM’s chief of staff, were among the many senior leaders who contributed to the workshop.

The ultimate goal of SEADMC is to develop critical relationships and improve information sharing, cooperation, and effective coordination between the major responders to large scale natural disasters in Indonesia. SEADMAC was first held in 2007.

PACOM Takes Preventive Measures in Combating H1N1

Sat, 19 Dec 2009 00:12:00 +0000

Have you received your "flu shot", yet? How about your 2009-H1N1 "Swine Flu" vaccine?

2009 is a unique influenza year, in that two different influenza vaccinations are being administered: the seasonal influenza vaccine and the 2009-H1N1 vaccine. Neither vaccine is cross-protective for the other circulating influenza virus types, which means that only seasonal influenza vaccine protects against the seasonal influenza viruses, and only the H1N1 vaccine protects against the 2009-H1N1 virus.

What is 2009-H1N1?

According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), 2009-H1N1 (sometimes called "swine flu") is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. On June 11, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) signaled that a pandemic of 2009-H1N1 flu was underway.

What is PACOM doing to prevent the spread of H1N1?

PACOM understands the importance of preventing the spread of H1N1, and as a critical force health protection measure, the 2009-H1N1 influenza vaccine is mandatory for all active duty personnel, unless medically waived.

In the video below, Rear Adm. Mike Anderson, US Pacific Command Surgeon, discusses how PACOM is taking precautionary steps in combating the spread of H1N1. He also added that the good news is that the virus has not caused a significant operational impact to date .

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Great reminders from PACOM's Surgeon:

After receiving the vaccine, Rear Adm. Anderson reminds all of us that it is still important to continue to protect ourselves and our families from H1N1 by practicing good hand washing, good sneeze etiquette, and staying home if ill (with your supervisor's permission!) , especially if you have a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (or greater).

For more information, we invite you to visit Tripler Army Medical Center's Fight the Flu website, or leave us a comment.(image)

U.S. Air Force Supports Australian Air Defense Exercise

Wed, 16 Dec 2009 00:51:00 +0000

Over a period of three weeks in late November and early December, U.S. Air Force KC-135 and B-52 aircraft originating from Guam flew more than 25 missions in support of Australia’s East Coast Air Defense Exercise (ECADEX).

(image) The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) described ECADEX as a vital air defense training event for the RAAF in an Australia Department of Defence news release.

As explained in an Andersen Air Force Base release, there was also training value for the U.S. air crews The B-52s served as “opposition forces” during the exercise, and the KC-135s had an opportunity to refuel RAAF F-18s in addition to the B-52s.

PACOM and the Australian Defence Force work closely together and have shared interests that not only enhance U.S. and Australia defense cooperation, interoperability, and security, but that also provides opportunities for increased multilateral partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region.

C-130 Aircraft to Transport Tons of Presents

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 00:09:00 +0000

The holiday season is here. In Guam, volunteers from Andersen Air Force base and the local community have been busy preparing for the Operation Christmas Drop ceremony on December 15, 2009. They will be loading more than 50 boxes onto a C-130 aircraft, to send to more than 30,000 islanders residing on the smaller islands of Chuuk, Palau, Yap, Marshall Islands, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

(image) Partnership is very important: through military and local community support, the OCD organization was able to collect tens of thousands of donated items and raise over $10,000 through donations and fundraising efforts. It's always amazing to see the big impact that people can make especially when they all work together towards a common goal--even the smallest efforts can go a long, long way!

According to Capt. Charles Schulz, 734th Air Mobility Command maintenance officer, "Each individual should take pride in knowing they helped as many people as they did."

This season, stop and take a look at what's been keeping you busy. How do you plan to help your local community to spread the holiday cheer? We'd love to hear your thoughts!(image)

APCSS Builds Regional Partnerships, Networks through Alumni

Tue, 08 Dec 2009 23:13:00 +0000

An outreach team from the Hawaii-based Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) is in the midst of a regional trip, taking them to Japan, Brunei, and Malaysia to discuss issues of mutual concern, such as disaster management, and to strengthen ties with alumni.

The APCSS alumni, with chapters in various nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, serve as the hub of a network of military and civilian professionals within various sectors associated with security.

These informal groups of alumni often provide a venue for professional development, as was the case, for instance, in Brunei during this current trip. There, Professor Herman “Butch” Finley, in collaboration with Brunei’s National Disaster Management Centre, had an opportunity to share his perspective on disaster management with local leaders, highlighting issues such as the importance of local communities’ involvement in disaster management.

As explained in a Brunei Times article, the event was also intended to strengthen ties between APCSS alumni by providing a venue to discuss their work professionally, as well as generate new partnerships and discussions in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief – an APCSS objective for the trip.

(image) While in Japan the team, made up of one professor and two alumni division representatives, met with alumni and also visited the Ministry of Defense to help promote participation in APCSS programs. Additonally, Professor Finley had an opportunity to discuss disaster management issues with Japan Self-Defence Forces officers.

The three-person APCSS team is currently wrapping up its outreach in Malaysia.

APCSS is a U.S. Department of Defense academic institute that addresses regional and global security issues, inviting military and civilian representatives of the U.S. and Asia-Pacific nations to its comprehensive program of executive education and conferences, both in Hawaii and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The Center supports PACOM's objective of developing professional and personal ties among national security establishments throughout the region.


PACOM Commander: Strengthening U.S.-Japan Alliance is a Focus

Sat, 05 Dec 2009 05:23:00 +0000

The following was written by Capt. Lydia Robertson, PACOM’s chief of public affairs, who is travelling with Adm. Willard as he meets with senior military officials to discuss views on regional security and ways to further cooperation and partnership.The Japan and United States alliance is a cornerstone to security in East Asia, and strengthening relationships in support of that alliance is a focus of Adm. Robert Willard, PACOM’s commander.Earlier this week, on the first stop of one of his first regional trips as PACOM commander, Adm. Willard met with several counterparts in the Japan Self Defense Forces as well as government officials, reinforcing the commitment of the United States – and Pacific Command – to a continuing U.S. presence in the region. “We consider ourselves to be an Asian nation in our own right with vast interests here and some very close alliances and strategic partnerships out here, and we look forward to strengthening those relationships over time,” Willard said, emphasizing he would seize opportunities to strengthen the alliance. As the 50th anniversary of the alliance nears, Willard noted the importance of understanding how far the relationship has developed but also his role in strengthening the alliance.“There are many ways to think about that when you consider this region of the world and the trends that are ongoing in the Asia-Pacific region: more multilateral engagement among countries and among militaries than bilateral, the teaming associated with areas of common interest, such as proliferation, terrorism, piracy, other illicit areas like counter-narcotics and so forth, search and rescue, disaster relief, humanitarian assistance on the other side,” Willard said. “These are things that can be done in partnership with other nations, not necessarily alone or just in bilateral arrangements.”The capabilities of the Japanese and U.S. militaries are significant and overall coordination between the two continues to evolve through continued exercises together.“Every exercise is intended to be more joint. Every exercise that we conduct in coordination with one another is intended to test interoperability and overall coordination,” Willard said. “We have to constantly practice, constantly review concepts of operations, constantly exercise to get better in order to advance those capabilities. So I think that the synergy that can be gained through joint operations, the operations between Japan’s Self Defense Forces and United States forces, will only improve over time.”In response to questions about the U.S. relationship with China, the admiral said managing the relationship will include enhanced military to military dialogue and other engagements. “We bear a responsibility to effectively engage with the Chinese and to understand one another better,” Willard said.In a media roundtable with Japanese reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Adm. Willard discussed many issues, including working group efforts to advance the realignment initiative, the importance of the deterrent role of forward-deployed U.S. forces, and other topics. [...]

U.S. Army, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to Train during Yama Sakura

Tue, 01 Dec 2009 22:46:00 +0000

The Japan-based U.S. Army I Corps Forward, U.S. Army Pacific and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force will train together Dec. 8-14 during exercise Yama Sakura, a joint command post exercise in Hokkaido, Japan.

Yama Sakura, which means "mountain cherry blossom," is an annual, full-spectrum, combined command post exercise with U.S. and Japanese personnel working to strengthen Japan's self defense operations.

This year, U.S. Army Pacific's Contingency Command Post and I Corps Forward, which will be conducting its first training deployment, form the central command and control element for U.S. forces.

The annual exercise rotates among each of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces’s five regional armies. This year, the Northern Army will participate. Also a joint exercise for the United States, Yama Sakura combines U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps elements, including Reservists and National Guard forces.

Approximately 1,500 U.S. military personnel and 3,500 Japan Ground Self-Defense Force personnel will take part.


U.S. Army Soldiers and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force work together in July to plan for exercise Yama Sakura, which begins next week.


U.S., Singapore to Begin Commando Sling Air Exercise Series this Week

Tue, 01 Dec 2009 00:54:00 +0000

The first of three phases of the annual Commando Sling air combat training exercise between the U.S. and Republic of Singapore air forces gets underway Dec. 2 in Singapore and wraps up Dec. 18.

As noted in a 13th Air Force release, the exercise series runs from December 2009 through July 2010. U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, Japan, will participate in the December iteration. F-16s from the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, and F-15 Eagles from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan, will participate in the following two iterations, respectively.

The annual Commando Sling series began in 1990 and allows U.S. units to sharpen their air combat skills, improve procedures and readiness, and enhance relationships with the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

Commando Sling is one of a number of military training exercises, both bilateral and multilateral, where U.S. and Singaporean forces train together. These include exercises such as Cobra Gold, Cope Tiger, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) and Tiger Balm.

Military exercises are an important component of U.S. Pacific Command’s commitment to working with allies and friends to enhance stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Each exercise, while differing in scope and intent, contributes to the enhanced readiness of the participating forces, as well as their mutual cooperation and understanding.


Navy Shares Training, Leadership Principles in Cambodia

Wed, 25 Nov 2009 10:55:00 +0000

A team of U.S. Navy Sailors recently spent four weeks in Cambodia working with the Royal Cambodian Navy (RCN) to share training techniques and leadership principles as the RCN prepares to induct 400 new recruits over the next year.

The U.S. Sailors, assigned to the Navy’s Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, led the courses of instruction from mid-October to mid-November at Ream Naval Base for 20 Cambodian officers to expand their leadership skills and help them to become more effective instructors.

(image) The “Train the Trainer” course and leadership principles course were requested by the RCN, which will be receiving its first new recruits in nearly 15 years.

As noted in a September 2009 news release from the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh following Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Tea Banh’s visit to Washington, D.C., since 2004 the U.S. has sought to strengthen and expand its bilateral defense relationship with Cambodia.

Cooperation focuses on a number of areas, including maritime security, international peacekeeping, transnational threats, and humanitarian assistance.(image)

Good Leadership Embraces Good Prevention

Mon, 23 Nov 2009 21:19:00 +0000

Although seemingly far removed from our home in the Pacific, the events of Nov.5, 2009, at Ft. Hood have undoubtedly touched each of us. Twelve were killed and 31 injured by a service-member opening fire on fellow Soldiers. It will probably never be known if this tragedy could have been prevented had others intervened during his career or if others had recognized warning signs of him being in trouble.

This tragedy does, however, serve as a reminder of the importance of taking care of ourselves and each other and stepping forward when we see a Wingman/Battle Buddy/Shipmate/Marine in need. We must remain aware of changes in behavior and demeanor, of signs that something is not right, whether it be with a co-worker, friend or family member. We should not hesitate to speak up or to act. We must set discomfort aside and understand our responsibility to look out for each other and ourselves. Service members pride themselves on their ability to be strong in the face of extreme stress, yet we must be strong enough to embrace the idea that getting help is not a sign of weakness.

The Department of Defense has launched efforts aimed at reducing the stigma associated with receiving behavioral health services and provides an array of resources that may serve as that first step in accessing care. Help is easily accessible and confidential. Speed of treatment and getting the right treatment are key to minimizing long-term behavioral health consequences. Signs of problems may include anxiety, depression, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, nightmares, emotional numbness, cognitive difficulties and intrusive thoughts. Additionally, feelings of guilt or sorrow, abuse of alcohol or drugs, loneliness, divorce and domestic violence can occur.

To care for others, we must also take care of ourselves and seek out help if stressors become too much or begin to overwhelm us. It may be difficult to take that first step to help others or to obtain help for ourselves. We must understand that it is not only acceptable to seek help but seeking help should be encouraged. We may need to point our colleagues towards available resources, and we need to follow-up with them, to make sure that they have sought help and that those who can help have in fact responded. We need to do the same with our families, our neighbors and our friends.

Good leadership embraces good prevention. From seaman to admiral or private to general, we are all trained to lead. Preventive behavioral and mental health must be endorsed as a leadership and peer-to-peer responsibility. A profound part of looking after people under our charge, or people important in our lives, is to reinforce the benefits of behavioral/mental health assistance and to encourage getting help when needed.

(image) GUEST BLOGGER: Rear Adm. Michael H Anderson,
U.S. Pacific Command Surgeon


Center for Excellence Supports Disaster Response Exercise in Fiji

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 02:17:00 +0000

Staff from the Hawaii-based Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) joined local government and military officials, representatives from United Nations organizations, non-governmental organizations and a number of diplomatic missions Nov. 17-20 during a U.S. Embassy-hosted disaster management exercise in Fiji.

“The exercise and training is based on real-life situations encountered during and after natural disasters in Fiji”, said Ambassador Steven McGann, U.S. Ambassador to Fiji. “The idea for this kind of intensive training was borne out of our assessment of Fiji’s disaster preparedness mechanisms in the aftermath of the devastating floods of January this year.”

The four-day tabletop exercise was based on real-world scenarios and designed to enhance coordination and disaster response capabilities, which Ambassador McGann noted in a Fiji Times article as being a U.S. priority.

Lt. Gen. (Ret) John F. Goodman, COE’s director, gave the keynote address to kick off the exercise (see Fiji TV coverage below), which was led by his staff and also included U.S. representatives from the Coast Guard and Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The diplomatic missions of China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, United Kingdom, Papua New Guinea and France also took part.

COE is a direct reporting unit to Pacific Command and principal agency to promote disaster preparedness and societal resiliency in the Asia-Pacific region. COE was established by the US Congress in 1994. As part of its mandate, COE facilitates education and training in disaster preparedness, consequence management and health security to develop domestic, foreign and international capability and capacity.

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Sri Lanka Schools Open Following USAID-PACOM Partnership

Mon, 16 Nov 2009 21:05:00 +0000

A pair of schools rebuilt in Sri Lanka by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – with funding from U.S. Pacific Command – opened last week.

(image) As reported by the Sri Lanka Sunday Times, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Patricia A. Butenis presided over the opening ceremony for the two schools in the Trincomalee District, where a total of five schools were rehabilitated. In addition to those five schools, two schools and one hospital were also rehabilitated in the Batticaloa District.

The project was made possible, in part, with Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid (OHDACA) funds, which are being administered by PACOM.

While coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts with USAID offices in foreign countries is not new, the use of PACOM’s OHDACA funds to support a USAID-managed projects is, as noted in a January blog post.(image)

PACOM Commander Speaks at Asia-Pacific Homeland Security Summit

Thu, 12 Nov 2009 22:21:00 +0000

Adm. Robert F. Willard discussed U.S. Pacific Command’s focus on addressing and mitigating transnational threats, and that effort’s correlation to the Asia-Pacific Homeland Security Summit’s “Securing Population Centers” theme, Nov. 10.Sponsored by the State of Hawaii, and as noted on the event’s website, the summit and exposition brought together in Honolulu attendees from 11 nations to discuss present and future capabilities necessary to protect population centers.Adm. Willard was one of three panelists during the summit’s closing session, and said PACOM expends considerable resources and time endeavoring to defend against transnational threats, and “…prevent them from reaching our shores, or the shores of our allies and partners.” He defined these threats as violent extremism and terror, international criminal activity such as piracy, narcotics and human trafficking, weapons proliferation including weapons of mass destructions, and natural and manmade disasters that create humanitarian crises.“I think to put the security of our population centers in complete context, we have to understand this as much as the immediate response to crises in our homeland or close to home,” Adm. Willard said. “Even with natural disasters, while it would seem there’s not much we can do to directly defend against them, through prior preparation and disaster response training and exercises, we attempt to mitigate the impact of natural disasters so they don’t become destabilizing.”He said that what the 300,000-plus men and women in the PACOM area of responsibility do daily is designed to ensure regional security and stability. “Part of that is at the high end, through deterrence efforts aimed at keeping the peace among major powers,” Adm. Willard said. “But by doing things that reduce societal tension and relieve population stress, we mitigate situations that could lead to conflicts and crisis.“We believe there’s a great payoff for the military support of civil authorities, for capacity building with our regional partners, and for liberally sharing what we know with our friends,” he said.Adm. Willard went on to mention trends that are likely to affect the future security environment, such as demographic shifts, the growing magnitude and complexity of economic interdependencies, and challenges associated with environmental, energy, and resource security, “…especially in a region of the world that’s home to many of the most important sea lanes and choke points and where demands for energy and natural resources are growing.”RelationshipsTo realize solutions to the challenges faced in the Asia-Pacific, Adm. Willard said relationships are the key. “They must be trust-based, personal relationships that enable information exchange and capacity building, ones that close the seams that so often obscure solutions and impede progress.“When we consider the bonds that ought to be fostered in order to ensure stability and security prevail, it’s important to entertain relationships between departments within an agency, across agencies within a government, across governments within a region, or even across sectors within society,” he said.Adm. Willard noted that that while there is much more to do, progress is being made, citing examples such as the Pacific Partnership humanitarian and civic assistance mission that wrapped up in September, and the recentl[...]