Ambassador Robert Riley Pacific Partnership 2019 Remarks Brunswick:
Thank you Xavier High School students for that excellent rendition of our two national anthems.
Welcome and good morning. It is a pleasure and an honor to address you all today.
We are pleased to bring to Chuuk this year Pacific Partnership 2019, represented here by the USNS Brunswick. The Brunswick has come to Chuuk in the wake of the destructive storm Typhoon Wutip; as such, it was able to stop in the heavily damaged outer islands of the Mortlocks and the Northwest Islands, and its crew provided needed medical and engineering assistance. This has delayed its arrival in Weno, as well as this opening ceremony, but I am sure all will agree that it was worth the time it took to provide needed assistance to these hard to reach islands. In those islands, the ship was able to treat 1200 patients, and bring gutters and roofing materials from Kwajalein to fix water catchment systems and the Pullap school roof. Then there were the intangibles, developing close relationships with the islanders through sporting and other community events.
Before I go any further, I would like to recognize the following people:
Chuuk State Governor Johnson Elimo
Secretary of Foreign Affairs Lorin Robert
Speaker Innocente Oneisom
President of the Senate Mark Mailo
Members of the Chuuk State legislature and Senate
Chief of Staff Leo Falcam
Mayor of Weno
Cabinet members and all other distinguished guests
All service members of Pacific Partnership 2019
And all the people of Chuuk.
We are exceedingly fortunate to have the Pacific Partnership 2019 ship USNS Brunswick here in Chuuk, with its unique catamaran designed hull made of aluminum. This ship is incredibly fast and maneuverable, and can proceed to a disaster site very quickly, as we have just witnessed in the Mortlocks and the Northwest Islands in response to Typhoon Wutip. Its bridge is quite modern, perhaps unlike any you may have seen before. As you will see when you do a tour of the Brunswick, this class ship is young and cutting edge. The Brunswick has brought to Chuuk physicians, nurses, dentists, and engineers. During the two weeks they are docked here in Weno, they will fan out to many parts of Chuuk state, helping to build medical and engineering capacity. Their schedule is packed with activities, and includes some surprises that I will leave to your imagination; but which include educational and fun events such as sports, health fairs, career discussions – and, of course, music from the very popular 7th Fleet Navy Band! We were treated to a wonderful performance yesterday at Xavier High School. Please do take advantage of these amazing opportunities.
Pacific Partnership 2019 is a great occasion to reflect on our close bilateral security relationship, which includes humanitarian assistance, with its main focus this year in Chuuk state. Pacific Partnership was initiated after the terrible earthquake and tsunami in 2004 at the northwestern tip of Indonesia, Banda Aceh, where more than 200,000 people died. After action, it was judged that the response by the international community could have been more rapid and effective. Pacific Partnership is a multinational effort to improve response to disasters. Although we are using US Navy ships with a crew that is mostly American as the platform for disaster response, people of many nationalities participate in Pacific Partnership, including folks from the UK, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Canada, South Korea, Peru, Marshall Islands – and the FSM! Participants from Thailand, Canada, and South Korea disembarked in Majuro, but those from the other six nations are still in Chuuk. The Pacific Partnership Brunswick Mission Director, Captain Patrick Allen, comes to us from the UK Royal Navy. And we are very pleased to announce that FSM citizen SPC Rally Gilmete is among those participating in this year’s Pacific Partnership exercise, and is aboard the USNS Brunswick. Specialist Gilmete, could you please stand up and be recognized? I was also pleased to discover that Specialist Gilmete is a cousin to one of the employees working at our embassy in Pohnpei! In addition, there is an RMI citizen, and Xavier graduate, Sgt Joseia Lemari aboard – could you also please stand?
As you can see, the multinational focus is evident in the entire spectrum of Pacific Partnership activities.
The goals of Pacific Partnership engagements are threefold: to build medical and engineering capacity in the host nation, to provide medical services to those in need, and to assess local resources and capabilities in the event disaster response is required in the host country in the future. We hope you will see the Brunswick crew working towards those ends in various locales around Chuuk.
The strong, long standing and close relationship of the U.S. and the FSM was forged in the rigors of World War II, dating back to the liberation of the FSM during the grueling and bloody war of the Pacific. Our relationship endures until today, and the Pacific Command’s current active and increasing engagement with the FSM is a sign of the importance that we attach to the relationship.
As you all know, through the Compact of Free Association, the United States has full authority and responsibility for the security and defense of the FSM. The United States is committed to defending the FSM as it would its own territory and that commitment will continue in perpetuity. There is no sunset to our dedication to the defense of the FSM; the U.S. Armed Forces will always be ready to protect the FSM and its people. This arrangement has been a force of stability in the FSM, and by extension, in the Pacific; and this has global reverberations. Over the last seven decades, the United States has promoted a free and open Pacific in which independent nations with diverse cultures and different aspirations can prosper side-by-side in freedom and peace. Our leaders, soldiers, and sailors have helped frame, and now strive to sustain and strengthen, the international system of clear and transparent rules, peaceful arbitration of disputes, and the rule of law.
We have had many important security discussions, during the JCMs and in other fora, regarding our continued security engagement in the FSM; these conversations have broadened and deepened over time. Through sustained cooperation, our security engagement will increase in the near and midterm, as we align our security posture with the threats that currently exist in the Pacific theater.
The reciprocal nature of our defense relationship can also be seen clearly in the very high rate of U.S. military enlistment within the FSM. FSM citizens enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces in greater number per capita than in any of the 50 U.S. States, and indeed in the world. In particular, we honor all of those FSM citizens who have served before, and those who are serving now. FSM veterans of the U.S. military serve the FSM with distinction, and contribute to the development of the FSM. They exemplify the strength, solemnity, and sincerity of our close friendship. Our ties are deep and can be seen along the entire spectrum of our relationship.
In short, Pacific Partnership 2019 is emblematic of the close and historic bonds that bind together our two countries. I hope that you all share my great excitement at the arrival of Pacific Partnership 2019, and that you will join in all of the wonderful activities that will be taking place.