US troops head to Albay for 2016 Pacific Partnership mission
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Over 1,000 US troops will arrive in Albay on Monday, June 27, to to provide humanitarian assistance and to exchange ideas on disaster management with their counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the region.
The Philippines is one of the mission stops of Pacific Partnership 2016, the largest humanitarian and disaster response-preparation mission in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. It will run in Albay from June 27 to July 11.
Captain Tetreault Shawn of the US Marine Corps in charge of humanitarian assistance disaster relief (HADR) said they will work with Filipino soldiers and Philippines government partners in Albay province, considered as the “laboratory of natural disasters" and a United Nations model for climate change adaptation in Philippines.
“We want to learn disaster management approach from our Filipino counterparts during the course of the Pacific Partnership here. The Philippine Navy's quick response in disaster, and the people are very resilient. [They] immediately recover from the impact of natural calamities here,” Shawn said,
The US forces will arrive in Legazpi City port on Monday afternoon onboard the USS Mercy, from Timor Leste.
Lieutenant Commander Kris Hooper, Pacific Partnership public affairs officer, said that mission in Albay will benefit both US and Philippine troops as they will learn from each other in terms of disaster response.
Bernardo “Raffy” Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense regional director, said the medical mission component of the Pacific Partnership will benefit as much as 3,000 poor patients.
“Majority of the patients will be treated aboard the USS Mercy ship hospital,” Alejandro said, referring to the world's largest hospital ship.
The other components of the mission are engineering works and disaster management.
The engineering brigade of the US forces will construct school building along with Philippine soldiers in the towns of Daraga and Camalig.
“This is the sixth salvo of humanitarian missions involving the US forces and the AFP in Bicol," Alejandro said. Albay was chosen for the mission stop because of its facilities, including a seaport, and the presence of a naval command.
Brigadier General Claudio Yucot, commanding general of the Army’s 901st Infantry Brigade, said the Pacific Partnership is an annual deployment of forces from the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet in partnership with the AFP. It is aimed at building inter-operability during disasters as well as security ties.
Pacific Partnership 2016 is also expected to conduct mission stops in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. – Rappler.com