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Australians Join Pacific Partnership 2008

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080602-05
Release Date: 6/2/2008 5:22:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Joshua Valcarcel, Pacific Partnership Public Affairs

USNS MERCY, At Sea (NNS) -- Twenty-five Australians from the Royal Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force joined the Pacific Partnership 2008 team aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) May 20, while the hospital ship was in port Guam.

Pacific Partnership is a humanitarian and civic-assistance mission aimed at strengthening international relationships with partner nations and host nations throughout Southeast Asia and Oceania.

The Australian military returned to the mission to provide assistance and expertise, building upon Pacific Partnership 2007 aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5) and Mercy's Pacific Partnership 2006 mission.

"We were asked by Pacific Fleet to provide assistance following last year's mission. There are also a few countries we've been to in the past, which calls upon our experience, such as Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea," said Flight Lt. Khai Nguyen, officer in charge of the Royal Australian Air Force service members aboard the Mercy.

Ten members of the Royal Australian Army's 1st Combat Engineer Regiment will be working closely with the U.S. Navy Amphibious Construction Battalion 1 during the mission, providing assistance and engineering support during their various construction and refurbishment projects. The 1st Combat Engineer Regiment's motto, "Ubique," or, "everywhere," is evidence of the same spirit shared by the Navy's Seabees' "Can do" motto.

The Australians have a great deal of experience providing assistance to remote indigenous communities. The Mercy provides a unique platform for bringing partner nations together and an alternate means of transportation to the job site.

The Royal Australian Air Force brought 14 members on board and will support the Medical and Dental Civil Action programs. The team specializes in dental, nursing, pharmacy and radiology, working side-by-side with Navy corpsmen throughout the entire mission.

"As a whole it gives us a chance to represent our country. We're providing assistance in a unique way, and it's not every day you get a whole team of multi-nationals working together. We're very proud to be a part of it," said Nguyen. "I think it's a great chance for all [of] us military guys to show our compassionate face."

The U.S. Navy, working together with Military Sealift Command, non-governmental organizations, host nations and partner nations, is coordinating medical, dental, and engineering assistance to participating nations in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.

Pacific Partnership 2008 continues to bring nations together aboard Mercy and in countries it will visit -- the Republic of the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, the Federated States of Micronesia and Timor Leste.

"We're very grateful to the U.S. Armed Forces for making us feel so welcome, we hope to share our experiences, and that the next few weeks will be very fun, exciting and promising for all of us," said Nguyen.

Additional partner nations scheduled to participate in Pacific Partnership 2008 include Canada, Chile, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand.

For more news from Pacific Partnership 2008, visit www.navy.mil/local/PP08/.

For more news from U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit www.cpf.navy.mil

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