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Partnerships Connect as Pacific Endeavor Concludes in Australia

By Air Force Master Sgt. Todd Kabalan Defense Media Activity - Hawaii

BRISBANE, Australia, Sept. 1, 2016 — After two weeks of information-sharing modules, equipment checks and field testing, the nearly 250 participants in Exercise Pacific Endeavor 2016 came together for a closing ceremony at Gallipoli Barracks here.

The exercise put military experts from 22 Indo-Asia Pacific nations, nongovernment organizations and academic advisors to work improving standard operating procedures for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

In addition to validating and documenting existing cyber, radio and spectrum technologies, participants said they found that the real value in the exercise was in the face-to-face interaction with their counterparts.

“It’s an opportunity for small nations like Papua New Guinea to build a network of friends from other nations in the Indo-Asia Pacific Region. Should we need the assistance in the future, at least we know we have friends and we can rely on,” said Papua New Guinea Army Maj. Joe Mwawesi.

“It’s the relationships that we’re building here that means that when we start planning and we execute an operation to support any country within the region, the first person you’re speaking to is hopefully somebody you know. It’s that reassurance that they are there to help, and you know them, you have that relationship that will see you through to the rest of the operation,” said Australian Army Lt. Col. Michael King, one of the exercise’s co-hosts.

“I believe that this also provides an opportunity for us to bring the regional counterparts to Australia to see what Australia is, to come and visit Australia, meet the people, and see that we are a generous people who actually want to go and help other countries when they face the worst circumstances,” King said. “That’s something that Australia has done over and over again, and for them to see that, that’s important for us.”

Communications Saves Lives

U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Kathleen Creighton, director of U.S. Pacific Command’s command, control, communications and cyber directorate, stressed the importance of the partnerships strengthened during the exercise.

“It’s really important to have everyone represented in Pacific Endeavor, because it’s really the only event of its type in the region for senior communicators to get together as equals and to share experiences, develop relationships, and learn about trends and at Pacific Endeavor. We’re all partners,” Creighton said.

In the future, organizers from U.S. Pacific Command’s Multinational Communication Interoperability Program, or MCIP, are looking to expand on the lessons learned during Pacific Endeavor, in addition to exploring communication as a new “basic need of life.”

“We’ve always learned that basic food, water, and shelter are the three primary needs during a disaster, but it’s actually more-so than that. Now, it’s communications,” said Scott Griffin, the MCIP director. “We’ll continue on with our systems interoperability, we’ll continue with our information sharing. I think as a program, we need to look at ways we can better support that in a disaster, and we need to understand what the requirements are so we can do so.”

Next year, MCIP officials are looking at hosting the event in southern California, which by design, would put the workshop much closer to academic and industry leaders in the communications arena, the officials said.
Distribution channels: Military