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    Alaska Reservist’s Role in Growing Multinational Partnerships in the Pacific

    Pacific Partnership:  ACCS Zimmermann

    Photo By Lt.Cmdr. Cheryl Collins | USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) Chief Mate Jacob Kohn (left), U.S. Navy Air Traffic Controller...... read more read more

    A normal day for Eric Zimmermann involves standing in the air traffic control tower of Anchorage International Airport in Alaska, orchestrating the arrival and departure of all types of aircraft.

    But for the past three months, this Navy Reservist, who drills out of Navy Reserve Center Anchorage, is known by fellow Sailors as U.S. Navy Air Traffic Controller Senior Chief Petty Officer Zimmermann, assigned to Commander Tactical Air Control Group One out of Coronado, California. Zimmermann deployed aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) in support of Pacific Partnership 2024-1, the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission in the Indo-Pacific.

    Mercy departed its homeport of San Diego on October 10, 2023 with more than 800 military and medical personnel, support staff, and over 70 civil service mariners aboard the floating medical treatment facility to participate in the 19th iteration of Pacific Partnership. This annual maritime mission focuses on improving disaster response preparedness, resiliency, and capacity, while enhancing partnerships with participating nations and civilian humanitarian organizations throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Pacific Partnership 2024-1 had mission stops in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Republic of Palau, and Pohnpei and Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia.

    Zimmermann had a pivotal role serving as the Multi-National Operations Center Director, responsible for all coordination of partner nation military service members participating in Pacific Partnership 2024-1, including their transportation, logistics, and health and welfare. Additionally, he coordinates with partner nation military headquarters as well as their embassies and consulates at the various mission stops.

    “Once they arrive at the mission, I ensure that they're integrated into the mission in their specific line of effort, whether that’s the band, dental, medical, or on the operational side,” Zimmermann explained. “Once they're embedded with their teams, they execute the mission by doing a lot of side-by-side work, a lot of cultural integration work.”

    Pacific Partnership 2024-1 involved band members from Australia and Japan, medical officers and aviation personnel from New Zealand and Japan, dentists from the United Kingdom, and a German dive medical officer and surface warfare officer. It was Zimmermann’s job to facilitate all movements and integration of these partner nation team members.

    Zimmermann planned and coordinated flight operations with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) to conduct medical evacuation operations and movements of mission essential personnel with a NH-90 helicopter from the flight deck of Mercy while anchored off the coast of Honiara, Solomon Islands. The RNZAF was supporting the 17th annual Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands.

    “Three Squadron really appreciates the work that Senior Chief Zimmermann has put into enabling us to be able to train with Mercy and get us up and running for operations in the Solomon Islands,” said Flight Lieutenant Nicole Brooke with RNZAF 3 Squadron. “Going forward, I think we will be able to continue this relationship for future exercises and other operations in the Pacific.”

    “The most rewarding aspect of the mission for me is working with partner nation aviation units to plan and execute joint air operations in a way that has never been done before,” Zimmermann said. “It increases interoperability and capability with our allies in the Pacific.”

    Zimmermann was one of a handful of reservists from the Navy and Army that participated in Pacific Partnership.

    “I think the value of reservists is always going to be that outside experience. The education, the technical expertise that we bring from the civilian sector into the uniform and into the mission, that doesn't show up on a joint manning document,” said Zimmermann. “Having an aviation background helps with this mission and navigating regulatory and airspace issues with different countries that we flew in and out of, navigating air transportation plans and things in that realm.”

    Host nations invite the U.S. Navy and its mission partners to visit and conduct tailored humanitarian civic action activities in focus areas such as engineering, disaster response, host nation outreach events, and public health. Additional criteria is also taken into consideration such as U.S. Navy and partner nation regional interests, as well as host nation objectives and desires.

    “My previous deployments have all been tactical and security in nature,” said Zimmermann. “This being a humanitarian and strategic mission has allowed me to use my experience to help forge relationships and provide host nations measurable ways to prepare and endure natural disasters. Pacific Partnership 2024-1 has reinforced how essential it is to work with and strengthen our relationships with our allies at all levels.”



    Date Taken: 01.28.2024
    Date Posted: 01.29.2024 02:42
    Story ID: 462601
    Location: PACIFIC OCEAN

    Web Views: 143
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