Pacific Partnership 2014 doesn’t begin until late May, but Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Pacific employees have been preparing for the annual humanitarian mission since last year, DLA Troop Support’s mission lead said.
“This is a big mission for Troop Support, looking at just the money, time and effort which we used so far for the mission,” Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joel Williams said.
Planning for the mission began in November, he said. By mid-December, one DLA Troop Support Pacific employee had already visited this year’s host nation locations to work with vendors and establish logistical support.
For 2014, participants will conduct missions in Indonesia, Timor Leste, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines.
Pacific Partnership, led by the Navy with assistance from other government agencies and partner nations, was established after the 2004 tsunami that devastated much of the South Pacific. It is the largest humanitarian and disaster relief preparedness mission in the region, according to the Navy. The goal is to provide medical aid and conduct building projects with each year’s host nations.
Williams said support for the mission is a multiple-office effort within DLA Troop Support. He estimates about 32 hours per week has been invested since November.
The team has already identified a requirement for more than $300,000 worth of construction materials for two of the countries, he added.
Medicine and medical supplies are another significant part of the support DLA will provide. Williams said that while the requirements for this year have not yet been identified, DLA provided $150,000 worth of materials in 2013.
Establishing vendor support in some of the nations presents a unique challenge for logistical planners, Gilbert Mincey, a DLA Troop Support Pacific contracting officer said. Mincey was part of a pre-deployment site survey team who visited Timor Leste, Indonesia and the Philippines to prepare for the upcoming missions.
Aside from language barriers and remote locations, Mincey said, many of the vendors are not used to conducting business the way they are required to with the U.S. government. It’s his job to work with them to get registered on the proper government websites and educate them on the payment process. He said the key is communication.
“We take the time to instruct, inform and educate the vendors on our requirements and methodology,” he said. “We also explain our mission, which is humanitarian in nature, how the projects will benefit the community, and how we look to local businesses to stimulate the economy.”
The pre-deployment teams typically spend 10 days in each country, and Mincey said he tries to spend that time getting face-to-face time with the vendors. He said his goal, along with establishing supply lines for the mission, is to make sure the vendors know he is there to help them.
Mincey said a benefit to serving on the pre-deployment team is the opportunity to see the people who will be directly affected by his efforts.
“I get to see the people we are going to be helping, the structures that we will be rebuilding, and how it’s going to help for generations to come and the impact that we leave on the communities,” he said. “The best charity is that which continuously benefits people, such a building a school, a clinic or a water supply system, and Pacific Partnership does all three.”
Sailors inventory and prepare medical supplies aboard the USS Pearl Harbor during Pacific Partnership 2013. Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Pacific, which provided more than $150,000 worth of medical supplies for the 2013 mission, has been planning for the 2014 mission since November. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Carlos M. Vazquez II
U.S. and partner-nation service members and nongovernmental organization volunteers pass boxes aboard the USS Pearl Harbor during a replenishment at sea. Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Pacific, which provided more than $150,000 worth of medical supplies for the 2013 mission, has been planning for the 2014 mission since November. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Laurie Dexter