LAUTOKA, Fiji --
Pacific Angel 17-3 concluded July 24 in the Republic of Fiji after positive patient care and civil engineering programs made a difference in the lives of nearly 4,000 Fijian patients and seven partner nation participants across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
“The U.S.-Fiji cooperation is a force for positive change here and across the Pacific,” said U.S. Ambassador Judith Cefkin during the closing ceremony July 24. “I can say with confidence you’ve made a difference. Thanks for your partnership throughout this Pacific Angel as we worked together promoting the common goal of a secure and prosperous Pacific region.”
The PACANGEL 17-3 team consisting of health care professionals, civil engineers, logistics, finance, contracting, public affairs, security and so many others, worked in tandem every single day with each of the partner nations from across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and globe including the U.S., Republic of Fiji, the Philippines, Vanuatu, Indonesia, France and Australia.
“We are better together—no one nation can do this alone and coming here learning from all the other nations involved while sharing our own experiences helps us build a team we can rely on in the future,” said Indonesian Capt. Wahyu Hidayat, a family practitioner with PACANGEL 17-3. “This was a great experience working with all the other doctors and learning how they do different procedures was extremely beneficial—I hope to participate in similar exercises in the future.”
PACANGEL builds partnerships between participating nations by conducting multilateral humanitarian assistance and civil military operations, promoting regional military-civilian-nongovernmental organization cooperation and interoperability. This year’s exercise saw 3,872 patients between two health services sites in Tavua and Savusavu and improved quality of life and infrastructure through civil engineering projects at five schools around Ba.
“It was great working with the Fijians and Vanuatuans as together we rebuilt schools building relations with different nations so in a time of need they know we can trust each other to help each other out,” said U.S. Air Force Staff. Sgt. Quintin Robinson, an electrician with the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Comprised of more than 100 U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps active duty, National Guard and Reserve members, and six regional nations, PACANGEL combined to create a multinational Joint Total Force Enterprise team. Their collaboration ensured the exercise proved the power in partnership.
“The fact that Pacific defense forces from across the region came together to give humanitarian relief to Fiji this year is fantastic and to be able to support the community and use our skills in areas of great need has really been an honor,” said Royal Australian Air Force Flt. Lt. Corey Wilson, a dental officer with the 2nd Expeditionary Health Services Wing at RAAF Base Williamtown, Australia.
Echoing his Australian counterpart, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Smith, a hospital corpsman with the Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit Six at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, said the experience really helped put all the pieces together for future endeavors and in the end resulted in a well-oiled machine.
“PACANGELs build relationships that will last a lifetime while enhancing the capabilities of our friends and allies,” Smith said. “This exercise better prepared us for continued operations together as one multilateral and joint team working together through fine-tuned collaboration for a cause.”
Together as one team, the regional partners are better prepared to help all involved nations in times of great need and disaster relief. Republic of Fiji Military Forces Sgt. Natoga Anitelu, a medical services technician with PACANGEL 17-3, said he can’t imagine a world where nations aren’t reliably working together for a more secure and prosperous region.
“We worked very closely together providing aid to those in need of medical services,” Anitelu said. “It is a collaboration with the U.S. and other partners that helps us and others, regardless of national origin, in times of great need.”
The exercise wrapped up July 24, but the friendships created as a result of PACANGEL 17-3 will last a life time, said mission commander, Lt. Col. Catherine Grush.
“None of us can do it alone and it’s thanks to exercises like Pacific Angel we’re able to find a common ground and work together for the betterment of the entire region,” she said. “Thanks to all our service members, volunteers and local and municipal leaders who worked together, flawlessly, partnering for a better tomorrow.”