AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Sept. 8, 2013) -- Leaders of 29 Armies across the Pacific theater gathered in Auckland, New Zealand today for the opening ceremonies of the Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference and the Pacific Armies Management Seminar. Unique to this year's conference is the introduction of a Senior Enlisted Leader program.

The two concurrent events organize the largest annual gathering of land power senior military leadership in the Asia-Pacific region and the inaugural Senior Enlisted Leader, or SEL, activities integrates participation of senior enlisted attendees into relevant Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference, or PACC, and Pacific Armies Management Seminar, or PAMS, forums. The New Zealand Army and United States Army Pacific, known as USARPAC, are co-hosting this year's PACC/PAMS.

"The relationship with New Zealand is a critical element of the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific," said Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, U.S. Army Pacific commanding general and co-host of the 8th edition of PACC and the 37th iteration of PAMS. "The bonds between our nations and our Armies have very deep and very strong historical roots, officially dating back 175 years as it was the United States that was the first nation to open a consulate in New Zealand. New Zealand's leadership in peacekeeping operations around the globe serves as an example to all nations and demonstrates the possibilities inherent in meaningful partnerships."

He added that forums such as these "allow for the exchange of perspectives and sharing of ideas and concepts addressing contemporary security challenges relevant to all attending nations."

The PACC/PAMS conference program dates back to 1986 and have proven records as valuable contributors to dialogue, cooperation, and transparency in the service of regional stability and multi-lateralism, said Col. James Robinson, USARPAC Security Cooperation Program assistant chief of staff and co-chair of PACC/PAMS.

"The academic, personal and cultural edification have proven invaluable in the development of whole generations of senior military officers across the Asia-Pacific region. We are fortunate this year to continue this legacy of multilateral cooperation and Army professionalism in the beautiful country of New Zealand," Robinson said.

The theme for this year's conferences is: "The Sum is Greater than the Parts: 21st Century Peace Operations in a United Nations Context." The overarching aim of these PACC/PAMS is to identify and share insight on what peace operations the United Nations and the Pacific Land Forces are currently undertaking; the key challenges and potential solutions at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, and how the UN and land forces can better cooperate, both bilaterally and collectively on future peacekeeping operations.