By 1st Lt. Eugene Molisso, 84th Engineer BattalionJuly 23, 2018
Pacific Partnership is an annual multilateral mission featuring U.S. Service Members, partner nation military and government forces, humanitarian agencies, and non-governmental organizations. Hosted on the USNS Mercy hospital vessel, the mission completed stops in eight countries throughout the Indo-Pacific where forces conducted host nation engagements to strengthen partnerships and enhance shared capabilities to respond to humanitarian and disaster relief (HA/DR) missions.
Teams aboard the USNS Mercy consisted of medical doctors and specialists, humanitarian assistance specialists, engineers, and community relations personnel. The Soldiers from the 84th Eng. Bn. were assigned to the "sail-in echelon" (SIE), which utilized small water taxis and ferries to bring them to shore from the vessel to complete construction and renovation projects.
1st. Lt. Jessica McAllister and Sgt. 1st Class Demarcus Barrow from 561st Engineer Construction Company led the 84th Eng. Bn. team.
Over the course of Pacific Partnership, the team worked with U.S. Navy personnel, U.S. Air Force personnel, U.S. Army Hawaii National Guard members, and host nation forces to construct and renovate schools, community halls, and medical centers, which improved key infrastructure, enhanced relationships, and contributed to a greater quality of life to over 63,800 host nation citizens.
The team's first stop was in Indonesia to build an elementary school and community hall for two local villages, which will reduce class sizes for 360 students and provide a storm shelter and logistics hub for future natural disasters.
The second stop in Sri Lanka was busy for the SIE as they worked with U.S. Navy engineers and the Sri Lankan Navy to construct a new emergency room, renovate a midwife clinic, and renovate a preschool. The emergency room will now improve response time for medical needs. The renovation of both the midwife clinic and preschool will lead to enhanced quality of life and early childhood education.
The last stop for the SIE team was Vietnam, where 1st. Lt. McAllister and Sgt. 1st Class Barrow's team worked with U.S. Marine Corps and Navy engineers to renovate a medical clinic and a primary school.
"Living on and working from a ship for four months was a challenging yet rewarding experience," said 1st. Lt. McAllister. "It is comforting to know that our Soldiers can work well with joint and host nation forces to impact relationships, improve infrastructure, and share skills that will last a lifetime."
2018 is the 13th year for Pacific Partnership and is crucial in strengthening ties with partner nations and agencies in the Indo-Pacific. In addition to providing civil engineering effects, the 84th Eng. Bn. Soldiers participated several of the 168 community outreach engagements and 18 disaster relief exchanges, which included tabletop exercises and field exercises.
The 84th Eng. Bn. continues to display its expertise and willingness to deliver world-class engineering effects across the region.