By FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD
The Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry (Stormtroopers) Division is currently participating in a humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) mission in selected communities in Tacloban City from March 10 to 24, 2019.
The opening ceremony of the Pacific Partnership 2019 (PP19) was held at the Patio Victoria, Barangay San Jose, Tacloban City.
The Pacific Partnership is an annual deployment of forces from the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy (USN) in cooperation with the government and military forces of the host nation, along with the beneficiary local government unit (LGU), and non-government organizations (NGOs)
This is the eighth Pacific Partnership mission to visit the Philippines and second to be held in Tacloban City since 2014.
Humanitarian and Civil Affairs/HCA activities such as medical and dental mission; and engineer construction projects will focus mainly on disaster preparedness/response and rehabilitation which will be done during the two-week duration of the mission.
Maj. Gen. Raul M. Farnacio, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) Storm, said the 8th ID will work hand-in-hand with the US Armed Forces and LGUs to deliver much-needed services in selected communities.
“This undertaking with our foreign counterpart will strengthen relationships among our militaries and civilian leaders enhance readiness in responding to the crisis, and exchange knowledge, and skills that will improve the life of our people.” Farnacio said.
Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral disaster response preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region.
This year’s mission is led by US Navy Capt. Randy Van Rossum, Commander of Destroyer Squadron 1, and his staff aboard expeditionary fast transport ships USNS Brunswick (T-EPF 6) and USNS Fall River (T-EPF 4).
Experts in the fields of engineering, medicine, and disaster response will partner with each host country to conduct civic action projects, community health exchanges, medical symposiums, and disaster response training activities.
After this phase in the Philippines, the Pacific Partnership mission teams will make additional stops in Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Vietnam.
Pacific Partnership began in response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters, the December 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of South and Southeast Asia.
The mission has evolved over the years from an emphasis on direct care to an operation focused on enhancing partnerships through host nation subject matter expert and civil-military exchanges.