Closing Remarks for Ambassador Robert Riley Pacific Partnership 2019 Closing Ceremony: April 25, 2019, Chuuk, FSM:
I have many people to thank for this extraordinarily successful Pacific Partnership exercise here in Chuuk, and whom I would like to recognize now.
- President Christian and the FSM National government;
- Director of Education Enlet on behalf of Governor Elimo and the Chuuk State government; President of the Senate Mark Mailo; Speaker of the House of Representatives Innocente Oneisom
- Secretary Robert and the Department of Foreign Affairs;
- AG Gallen and the Department of Justice;
- Mayor of Weno Faustino Stephen and the municipalities of Chuuk;
- Captain Allen and the sailors, soldiers, and marines on his team;
- Master of USNS Captain Streeper and his crew;
- Admiral Shoshona Chatfield and members of Joint Region Marianas
- And the people of Chuuk
It is time now to bring Pacific Partnership 2019 to a close. That is the end of this particular exercise, but it is not the end of the longstanding and close partnership the United States and the FSM have enjoyed since World War II; that partnership continues in perpetuity, and is fully exemplified in the Compact of Free Association. We have several members of the Freely Associated States present here today – Rally Gilmete from Pohnpei and Joseia Lemari from the Marshall Islands, who are an integral part of Pacific Partnership 2019; we introduced them at the opening, and they have been here in Chuuk through the entire exercise – could the two of you please stand up and be recognized?
As a special surprise, Navy IT Specialist KN Nethon from Chuuk has flown in with our guests from Joint Region Marianas to assist with our Closing Ceremony. KN, please stand and be recognized!
We are proud to see so many Micronesians serving in the US Armed Services, an enlistment rate that is the highest per capita in the world; in this, the mutuality of our security relationship can be clearly seen. We are indeed in partnership as we work together to protect the FSM’s independence, sovereignty, and freedom, and as we ensure a free and open Pacific where transparency and rule of law are paramount.
But Pacific Partnership broadens the meaning of partnership beyond the bilateral. After providing emergency and real time medical and infrastructure capacity building and disaster response in the Mortlocks and Northwest outer islands of Chuuk, which were hard hit by Typhoon Wutip, in partnership, the dedicated, multinational sailors, soldiers, and marines of USNS Brunswick entered the Chuuk Lagoon to resume its scheduled activities on Weno and the surrounding islands. They fanned out to the Chuuk Public Hospital, to schools, and to dispensaries to provide needed medical and infrastructure disaster resilience; they also sponsored sporting events and learning activities; and it was accompanied by the music of the amazing US Pacific Fleet Band. All of this was done in partnership, as well, with the FSM national government and Chuuk state. Profound thanks to all of the Pacific Partnership military forces from the US, UK, Japan, Peru, Australia, Philippines, Malaysia, Canada, South Korea, Thailand, RMI, and FSM for a fabulous and meaningful effort. It was a real personal honor for me to witness the wonderful collaboration that was evident throughout the Pacific Partnership effort that showed how well people of many different nationalities, creeds, and cultures can work together in unity of principle and action. The results, both tangible and intangible, have been astounding.
This year, I have had the honor of participating in both the opening and closing of Pacific Partnership 2019 in Chuuk aboard this United States Naval Ship Brunswick. Pacific Partnership is the world’s largest humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission. It is currently in its 14th iteration and committed to developing disaster resilience capability, in all its many facets – including, among others, team and partnership bonding, medical and engineering capacity building, infrastructure strengthening – and, as Captain Allen has so rightly previously emphasized – friendship making. To give you a flavor – you really had to have been there to get the full meal – here is an indication of some of the activities that led to these overarching goals:
There were 16 Host nation outreach events, a slightly awkward phrase, but one that covers the band and the sports/career talks, which were anything but awkward; to the contrary, they really brought everyone together in making joyful noises.
There were13 Medical symposiums and trainings; 110 Medical Subject Matter Expert Exchanges;28 Side by Side Medical Exchanges; 2 Health Fairs.
The medical team put together a rehabilitation facility at the Chuuk public hospital and was able to train local healthcare providers to conduct rehabilitation- a capability the hospital did not have before. Personal note – I saw this facility myself, and I fully intend to use it for my own rehabilitation.
There were 15 hours of Search and Rescue training; And 32 hour Basic First Responder train the trainer trainings.
Then there were the six major engineering projects completed at Iras Elementary School, for which we just cut the ribbon late yesterday. The Brunswick’s important efforts in the Mortlock and Northwest Islands delayed the ship’s arrival to Weno, so the completion of the Iras projects came down to the wire, and Captain Allen had to put on extra manpower, but the results were wonderful.
The projects included:
-A bathroom Renovation;
-A French Drain, which is a fancy name for a trench filled with gravel that redirects surface water and groundwater away from the school;
-An awning Construction;
-Plumbing Installation, including a new water tank, and at the same time, the repair of an existing water tank PVC pipe (these two projects together increased dramatically the water supply at the school, by two full tanks);
-The replacement of plywood school siding with concrete sheets, which should last many, many years
-and a Storage Room Renovation
The scope of Pacific Partnership 2019 accomplishments is remarkable, especially so given the shorter time span in Weno required by the unexpected disaster response performed in the Mortlock and Northwest Islands at the beginning of the operation.
In my opening remarks, I extolled everyone to share in the excitement of Pacific Partnership 2019, and to join in all of the wonderful activities about to take place. I believe that both those objectives were met and exceeded; but more important, we have seen real partnership at every level, and that is the true and righteous goal that will stand the test of time.
Thank you very much.