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Communications Keeps Pacific Partnership 2012 Connected

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120610-07

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stephen M. Votaw, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

NORTH SULAWESI, Indonesia (NNS) -- Service members from Pacific Partnership 2012's (PP12) Joint Communication Support Element (JCSE) are pushing technology to its utmost to keep everyone connected during the mission.

Through the use of numerous satellite dishes and antennas, the three teams operate at different sites providing WiFi Internet, e-mail and cell phone communications to the field teams working in remote locations.

Senior Master Sgt. John Vining, leading non-commissioned officer for the JCSE, said it was very important to keep communications active between the various civil action sites and their home base aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19).

"Without proper communications, no one would know what anyone else is doing," Vining said.

This is the first Pacific Partnership mission to use a JCSE to this extent.

"Previous missions never had the level of communications that we do," Vining said. "For doctors to be able to communicate back and forth from the field to the Mercy gives them much greater flexibility in the cases and patients they can treat."

Vining said the JCSE team has thoroughly enjoyed being able to take part in PP12 and looks forward to hopefully being involved in future missions.

"This is a great opportunity for our young crew members," said Vining. "Not only do they get the reward of helping out those in need, they also get to work on systems to an extent that is rarely seen in most branches of service today."

When a JCSE team arrives at one of PP12's civil action projects they immediately set up all of the equipment needed to provide communications. However, sometimes the host nation personnel lend a hand to help get systems up and running.

"All of the host nation personnel have been extremely helpful," said Vining. "Their knowledge of local terrain really helps in setting up the satellite somewhere that is both as safe and as effective as possible."

Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is an annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission that brings together U.S. military personnel, host and partner nations, non-government organizations and international agencies to build stronger relationships and develop disaster response capabilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

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