KAMPOT PROVINCE, Cambodia --
Pacific Angel 16-2 to Kampot Province, Cambodia, came to an official end June 20 during a closing ceremony at Wat Seung Primary School, one of the sites renovated by multinational civil engineers during the humanitarian mission.
The joint and combined humanitarian assistance/civil military operation mission, led by the U.S. Air Force, is designed to build partner capacity through health services outreach, engineering civic projects and subject matter exchanges.
The ceremony featured the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, a flag officer from the United States, and provincial officials.
“Pacific Angel events are a cornerstone of Pacific Air Force’s relief efforts,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Compton, Air National Guard Assistant to the Commander, Pacific Air Forces. “Not only does Pacific Angel allow us to help people in need, but it also helps us improve our interoperability with like-minded military and civilian medical and engineering professionals in Cambodia and with our multinational partners in the region.”
Throughout the course of the week doctors, dentists, and pharmacists from the U.S., Cambodia, Australia, Vietnam and Thai militaries and two non-governmental organizations, along with 65 volunteers from the provincial hospital and local villages, saw more than 3,400 patients at two different sites. Together they provided general health, dental, optometry, pediatrics, and physical therapy services. Multinational civil engineers spent approximately 2,100 man-hours working on restoration projects for four local schools and two medical facilities, impacting the lives of more than 1,000 individuals daily.
“These projects are a visible expression of the United States’ commitment to the Asia-Pacific and demonstrate our continuing resolve to support international humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts in this region,” said Compton. “Likewise, this event highlights the importance the United States places on its growing relationship with Cambodia.”
In addition to the humanitarian assistance operations, seven subject matter expert exchanges between the five militaries created a venue for doctors, nurses, health officers, security personnel and engineers to discuss disaster relief preparedness and operations and go through basic life saving skills training, furthering their capacity to respond to a natural disaster event in the region.
“Pacific Angel demonstrates very clearly what capable militaries can offer to the societies that they serve,” said William Heidt, the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia. “They can provide a trained and capable force, ready to provide basic humanitarian services wherever needed, particularly in cases of emergencies or natural disasters. They can provide training that gives people skills in useful fields like health care and engineering, and they can be a platform for regional and international cooperation among partner countries and their militaries.”
During his speech the Ambassador emphasized dual purpose and benefit of the Pacific Angel mission, both enhancing participating nation’s humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, but at the same time providing needed humanitarian aid.
“Thanks to training conducted during Pacific Angel, the Cambodian and international team members here today are ready to establish operations wherever the next emergency strikes,” said Ambassador Heidt. “This event prepared all of our countries for more unified international responses to disaster and humanitarian crises. We are also proud that while doing so we were able to provide valuable health services to the citizens of Cambodia and Kampot.”
Events and engagements such as Pacific Angel are critical to advancing each military’s ability to operate together while preserving peace and stability in the region.
“Through the good achievements of the mission, I strongly appreciate the collaboration created between the U.S. Air Force and the [Cambodian] Ministry of Defense, as well as authorities in the provincial level, district level and commune level who have tried their best in contribute in a humanitarian way for the people of Cambodia,” said Chan Chesda, Kampot Provincial Governor.
Following the ceremony, city and provincial officials joined the Ambassador and military representatives for a ribbon cutting to officially dedicate all projects to the citizens of Kampot Province.
“I call for all civics, teachers, students, and local authorities to take care of the construction and equipment that the humanitarian team has provided Kampot Province,” said Chesda. “All of these activities, such as the presence U.S. Air Force, show improving relationships. It shows the world that Cambodia is happy to welcome the participation of humanitarian teamwork, non-governmental organizations, associations and other countries to develop the country in a sustainable manner.”
Officially in its ninth year, Pacific Angel supports U.S. Pacific Command's capacity-building efforts by partnering with other governments, non-governmental agencies and multilateral militaries in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Since 2007, U.S. military members, together with host nation military and civilian personnel throughout the region, have improved the lives of tens of thousands of people.