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    Pacific Partnership 2023 Unites Nations, Fosters New and Enduring Friendships

    Pacific Partnership 2023 HA/DR Team, DARD Visit Sea Wall

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Amy Elker | AN CHAN, Vietnam (Aug. 15, 2023) - Pacific Partnership 2023 (PP23) Humanitarian...... read more read more

    TUY HOA, Vietnam – Active duty, Reserve, and National Guard military branches from around the globe, gathered in Tuy Hoa in the Phu Yen Province of Vietnam, Aug. 9-18 for Pacific Partnership 2023 (PP23). Now, in its 18th year, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific.

    During the opening ceremony, Đào Mỹ, Vice Chairman of the Phu Yen People's Committee, and head of the organizing committee for PP23 in Phu Yen Province, quoted President Lyndon Johnson who said, "Peace is a journey of a thousand miles, and it must be taken one step at a time.”

    “The Pacific Partnership mission,” Mỹ said, “builds trust among nations to work efficiently together, and is critical to maintaining peace and stability in the region.”

    U.S. Navy Capt. Claudine Caluori, PP23 mission commander, also addressed the audience during the opening ceremony. Also focusing on the journey, she quoted American author Ursula LeGuin who wrote, “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”

    “Pacific Partnership is our journey,” Caluori said.

    Each year the PP23 mission team works with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase security and stability, and foster new and enduring friendships in the Indo-Pacific. PP23 activities are coordinated with the host nation and are conducted based on host nations’ requirements and requests.

    For PP23 Vietnam requested engineering projects–including building classrooms and renovating schools, performing band concerts, engaging the community through outreach events, medical exchanges–including performing surgeries, and a subject matter expert exchange on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) at Mien Trung University of Civil Engineering (MUCE) and at the Phu Yen Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

    The HA/DR team, led by Lt. Col. Evan Hessel, Joint Force Headquarters, Oregon Army National Guard, included members of the Oregon Air and Army National Guard, members of the 440th Civil Affairs Battalion, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, Colorado Army Reserve, and a Coast Guardsman.

    The HA/DR team was also joined by two civilians from Oregon who conduct academic research and have an expertise in disaster response.

    At the request of MUCE, students and faculty engaged in a symposium with the two civilians, Aug. 12. Dr. Cassandra Moseley, Research Professor, Institute for Resilient Organizations, Communities, and Environments, University of Oregon, discussed her research on “Building Community Resilience to Extreme Weather: Lessons from Wildfire,” and Dr. Daniele Spirandelli, Senior Associate, Climate Resilience Specialist for Haley Aldrich, and adjunct university professor at Portland State University, shared her research on “Failure to Protect Beaches Under Slowly Rising Sea Level.”

    “When disaster strikes the time to prepare has passed,” Caluori said. “Lt. Col. Hessel and the men and women from the Oregon National Guard constructed this event as a launching point for a long-term partnership between the Mien Trung University through collaboration that can enhance disaster preparedness and resilience for the Phu Yen Province through preparation, mitigation, response and recovery from natural or man-made disasters.”

    Dr. Le Dam Ngoc Tu, Head of Department of Research Administration & International Cooperation, MUCE, said she believes this type of intellectual exchange is important for MUCE.

    “We want to improve the research capacity of lectures and students,” she said.

    The HA/DR team’s presentations provided MUCE with some examples in disaster response, particularly wildfires and coastal zone management.

    “We can apply these lessons into our research and policy-making,” Tu said.

    Tu and the students and faculty at the MUCE symposium were very pleased with the exchange.

    “The team is very friendly, and the presentations are professional and gave us some take-away lessons," Tu said. “We also want to extend the cooperation in the future, through lecturers or students’ exchange and cooperation in research and practices in disaster response.”

    It’s important to have experiences like this,” Moseley said after sharing her gratitude for the opportunity to share her research during the symposium. “Even though I work mostly in the U.S., I collaborate with people from other parts of the world. I feel like it’s really important to work together, and research collaboration has always been a really important part of peacemaking around the world.”

    Because of Moseley’s research related to wildfires, she pays attention to fire response and has always been impressed with the Oregon National Guard’s work in that area. Despite her observations of the Guard’s wildfire response efforts, she said she has never seen the Guard in action.

    “What’s been really cool about the prep for PP23, and the time here in Vietnam, is starting to see a little more about how the Guard works – how they’re connected to the larger military system, and how they all work together and collaborate,” Moseley said. “I’ve really felt valued and appreciated by all of them, and I’m very grateful for that as well.”

    Spirindelli has also really enjoyed her first time working with the Guard in Vietnam for the subject matter expert exchange. “So far, what I’ve really enjoyed is understanding what the Guard’s priorities are and what their role is in disaster, waste reduction and emergency management. I think there’s so much opportunity to expand upon that.”

    Spirindelli also said she enjoyed meeting the MUCE professors and faculty and hopes to collaborate with them again in the future.
    “I am so incredibly impressed,” she said, “with the value in terms of the relationships that are being built and nurtured here. There’s such care involved in being able to continue those relationships on all levels.”

    The HA/DR team engaged in a similar subject matter expert exchange at DARD, Aug. 14-15, with a site visit to An Chan, Aug. 16, to view a sea wall that had been built to reduce erosion and protect lives and property from the sea.

    Lu Ngoc Lam, Deputy Director of DARD and vice chief of the PP23 organizing committee was thankful for the opportunity to exchange ideas and information on disaster response issues and capabilities.

    “I believe all the Vietnamese delegates have gained a deeper understanding of how to prevent and respond to wildfires, oil spill incidents, and coastline erosion,” Lam said. “Personally, I feel this is a good opportunity for both sides to learn from each other, have experiences together and work closely to understand more about the effective measures to tackle natural disasters to make sure we can save more human lives and property. I hope it’s not only limited to the seminar itself, but in the future, we will have more opportunities for information exchange sessions.”

    Hessel said the highlight of PP23 has been, “working with our Vietnamese hosts who are incredibly gracious, warm and friendly people; working with other branches of the military–it’s a Navy led event and they have done a great job of bringing us in and making us feel like equal members of the team; and working with civilians and members of the Coast Guard and Air Force–all sorts of different sectors of the military and civil society. It’s been an unbelievable chance to bring people together, and I think that’s the essence of Pacific Partnership.”

    Hessel also believes coming together for events like PP23 is incredibly important. “In terms of global geopolitics today, it’s a fraught time,” he said. “I think it’s more important now, than maybe ever before, to strengthen our connections, strengthen our ties and strengthen our partnerships with our allied and partnered nations, not just across the Indo Pacific but around the world because we are all stronger together.”

    As part of PP23 the mission team will conduct missions throughout Southeast Asia and the South Pacific Islands.

    For more information about Pacific Partnership, visit, or Pacific Partnership public affairs can be reached via email at



    Date Taken: 08.18.2023
    Date Posted: 08.19.2023 00:48
    Story ID: 451607
    Location: TUY HOA, VN 

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