Military Appreciation Month has Special Meaning in Hawaii

When one considers the disturbing news of conflicts and internal strife emanating from distraught parts of the world, we should be very thankful for the U.S. military’s successes in deterring armed conflicts and maintaining peace and stability throughout the Pacific. This has stimulated the emergence of enduring geopolitical partnerships, strengthened regional security, and enabled commerce and trade to expand to unprecedented levels for both the U.S. and our partner nations.

Peace and stability have special meaning to Hawaii, which endured World War II that crippled the entire Pacific followed by regional wars in Korea and Vietnam through the 20st century.  Most residents have family roots in the South Pacific, North Pacific and Southeast Asia where bitter battles were fought and understand the terrible consequences of armed conflicts in destroying communities and killing tens of thousands of innocent people.

Today, the military’s forward presence in Hawaii is critical to deterring these dreaded armed conflicts and keeping the life-supporting sea lanes of the South China Sea free and open to sustain economic growth. Moreover, and more importantly, it has encouraged a realization among Pacific nations that building close geopolitical relationships benefit us all.

As Dr. Janine Davidson, a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, has contended, it is the latter point of building a network of alliances and partnerships throughout the Pacific that represents the foundation of America’s Asia Pacific policy and is our most important asset.

Hawaii’s residents are grateful for the U.S. military’s successes in promoting peace and stability, and providing timely responses to requests for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief that wreak havoc in natural disasters. It brings great comfort knowing that families, friends and associates living abroad are safe and protected by a corps of highly skilled, well educated and fully trained members of the U.S. military who continue to serve with honor and distinction.

The month of May is a time to express your personal appreciation for the dedicated service of Hawaii’s service members. These young volunteers have excelled in spreading our cherished spirit of freedom and democracy throughout the world.

They truly epitomize the spirit of aloha.


U.S. Pacific Fleet to Host Pacific Partnership 2014 (PP14):

Beginning in late May and extending to the end of July, the U.S. Pacific Fleet will conduct its ninth multi-lateral Pacific Partnership (PP14) to strengthen regional capabilities in responding to natural disasters. This year’s mission is designed to improve disaster response preparedness in host nations Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

The host nations are being joined by NGO specialists and our military partners from Australia, Chile, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore. Said Admiral Harry Harris, Jr., Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, “It is a historic moment in the progress of this vital mission that Japan is contributing the primary command ship …. Friends help friends, and this multilateral mission will not only strengthen future disaster response preparedness, it will build trust and enhance interoperability so that we can continue improving regional security and stability.”

Lasting about two months, PP14 will feature a multinational command and control structure to include a Deputy Commander from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, a Mission Chief of Staff and a Deputy Phase Commander from the Australian Defense Force, and a Deputy Phase Commander from the New Zealand Defense Force. U.S. Navy leaders from Destroyer Squadron 21 will serve as mission commander and will embark a Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ship that will serve as the command ship. Simultaneously, in a first for this program, Seabees from the U.S. Navy’s 30th Naval Construction Regiment will be airlifted from California to lead the mission in Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

Last November’s devastation by a typhoon in the Philippines illustrated the importance of being prepared to provide timely and organized response to natural disasters. Multinational training missions such as PP14 are essential as no one nation can provide total coverage.

As we saw when the typhoon devastated central Philippines, “ … being able to provide effective humanitarian assistance and disaster relief is critical to stabilize a crisis,” said Admiral Harris, who further commented, “But we were not in it alone, as many partner nations, civilians agencies, and non-governmental organizations also provided assistance to the Philippines.  That’s why multinational missions like Pacific Partnership are so valuable, because it prepares us in calm so we can effectively respond together in crisis.”

Born out of the devastation wrought by a 2004 tsunami that swept Southeast Asia, Pacific Partnership began as a military-led humanitarian response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters. In successive events, participants expanded to include partner nation militaries and NGOs working to increase disaster relief capabilities of host nations.

The Pacific Fleet notes that Pacific Partnership missions go beyond the actions of training as it also directly contributed towards providing real-world medical care to approximately 250,000 patients, veterinary services to more than 37,000 animals, accomplished more than 170 engineering projects and enabled critical infrastructure development in Cambodia, the Federated States of Micronesia, Indonesia, Kiribati, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Philippines, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu and Vietnam.