The Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific region. It features nearly 1,500 personnel and is a joint effort between Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Pacific Partnership 2023 is commanded by U.S. Navy Captain Claudine Caluori, who, when not on mission, is the Commander of Destroyer Squadron 31, based out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“Pacific Partnership was born out of the devastation wrought by the December 2004 tsunami that swept through parts of South and Southeast Asia and began as a humanitarian response to one of the world’s most catastrophic natural disasters.
“So at the invitation of hosts and nations, our mission partners visit and conduct tailored humanitarian civic action preparedness activities in the areas such as engineering, disaster response, public health, and other outreach events,” she said.
Since 2004, the Pacific Partnership has transitioned from its primary focus of providing direct care to focus on capacity building, noted Captain Caluori.
“So any direct care provided will be shoulder to shoulder with the host nation and partner nations. And the intent is that we share the knowledge and skills that are enduring and applicable well after the mission is completed,” she said.
Some recent relief efforts include the 2022 volcanic eruption and tsunami in Tonga; the 2018 Typhoon Yutu relief efforts in then Northern Mariana Islands; and the 2011 relief efforts during Operation Tomodachi in Japan, which followed the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
The 2023 mission is currently being carried out in the Pacific with stops in Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Fiji, Samoa, Palau, and Papua New Guinea, and will continue through the end of the year with a stop in Tonga.
Captain Caluori noted that the Indo-Pacific “is within what the scientists call the Pacific Ring of Fire, and it’s not about if, but when we need to work together to respond to natural disasters:”
“So the United States and our partners, we stand read to assist when called upon.”
Captain Caluori also emphasized the importance of multilateral missions like the Pacific Partnership in fostering enduing friendships and cooperation. “Having this Pacific Partnership, she declared, “continues to build trust among nations to work effectively together, and it’s crucial to maintain peace and stability in the region.”