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Australian Defence Force Medical Personnel Work with Pacific Partnership

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110608-04

By Royal Australian Navy LSIS Helen Frank and Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class(SW/AW) R. David Valdez, USN, Pacific Partnership 2011 Public Affairs

DARWIN, Australia (NNS) -- Medical professionals from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) departed the Pacific Partnership 2011 mission as a new team reported to take the reins in Darwin, Australia, June 8.

"The experience has been a positive one on many levels," said Cmdr. Bruce Greig, Royal Australian Navy, a doctor with the ADF Pacific Partnership contingent. "The medical knowledge exchange has been fascinating in that there is no doubt that the Australian and United States' medical practices are different. Personality-wise, however, we are very alike. The people themselves have been a delight to work with, and the future networking is surely a great advantage to both our medical careers and the interoperability of our navies in times of emergencies."

The Pacific Partnership mission is an annual, international humanitarian assistance program sponsored by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. The deployment aims to strengthen alliances and promote multilateral security cooperation in the event of a humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) crisis.

The ADF contribution to the mission will include approximately 40 members in two phases, comprised of engineering, veterinary and medical personnel.

"The Australian presence on this mission is a vital asset to our interoperability objectives," said Capt. Jesse A. Wilson, mission commander of Pacific Partnership 2011. "More than that, they have become great friends. Given their familiarity with the region, their professionalism, and their dedication to the mission, I wouldn't hesitate to work with them again."

Since the first mission in 2006, Pacific Partnership, which has traditionally included military personnel from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S., has treated more than 230,000 patients and built over 150 engineering projects in 15 countries.

During this year's mission, the Pacific Partnership team has treated more than 21,000 patients, participated in thousands of contact hours of formal subject matter expert exchanges and built classrooms and water catchment systems in all three of its mission ports this year.

While this may be of value to the larger organizations of the ADF and U.S. military, there is a value added on a personal level for the people involved with the mission.

"In Vanuatu, we had a patient with a vicious machete wound above her left ankle," said Lieutenant Steven Line, a nurse with the Royal Australian Navy. "She had lost most of her blood, and we had to act quickly to stabilise her. Fortunately, we had the New Zealand surgeons on hand to close the wound."

The level of teamwork developed by the international team fits precisely into the intent of the Pacific Partnership concept of interoperability. During an HA/DR crisis, militaries will not only have to work with different branches of service, they will also be required to work with militaries of different nations.

"Any medical mission needs to be based on teamwork," said Captain Amanda Crawford, Australian Army nurse. "So it has been good to learn how the United States operates. For future operations, we now have a working knowledge of how other nations do things."

Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance mission sponsored by U.S. Pacific Fleet. This year, Pacific Partnership has completed its mission in Tonga, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea and will continue on to Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia.

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