A New Army Task Force in Oceania

By SSG Solomon NavarroJanuary 28, 2021

A New Army Task Force in Oceania
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Maj. Pablo Valerin, Office of Defense Cooperation Liaison, Brig. Gen. Falur Rate Laek, Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor Leste Vice Chief of Staff, Col. Callisto Santos Coliati, Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor Leste Chief of Staff, Maj. Ruby Gee, Team Timor Leste officer-in-charge, and Cpl. Lydia McKinney, Team Timor Leste Cultural Liaison Non-commissioned Officer participate in the 45th anniversary tour of Falantil in Eastern Timor Leste, Aug 16. Task Force Oceania helps coordinate linked engagements and exercises with allies and partners, improving the quality of those exchanges, building capacity, and achieving interoperability. (Photo Credit: SSG Solomon Navarro) VIEW ORIGINAL
A New Army Task Force in Oceania
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Lt. Col. Igor Dubinsky, Task Force Oceania Deputy Commanding Officer conducts a hail and farewell ceremony for members of the unit at Fort Shafter Flats, Hawaii, Sept. 25. The U.S. Army is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our Soldiers, family members, retirees and civilians both at home and abroad and is complying with DOD directives and supplemental “Force Health Protection Guidance for the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak,” and with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for this virus. (Photo Credit: SSG Solomon Navarro) VIEW ORIGINAL

Task Force Oceania (TF Oceania) consists of Soldiers from all components of the U.S. Army; active-duty, Army Reserve and National Guard, with the purpose of engaging and cultivating meaningful and lasting relationships in Oceania. Oceania is an area of the Pacific that includes Australia and neighboring Pacific Island countries.

TF Oceania is headquartered at the 9th Mission Support Command at Fort Shafter Flats, Hawaii, and consists of a company-sized headquarters element and two-Soldier country teams that provides consistent supporting presence throughout Oceania. The teams are comprised of a civil affairs trained officer and a non-commissioned officer having cultural or linguistic ties to Oceania country. “At the moment, we have our Soldiers in three island countries, Timor-Leste, Palau, and Papua New Guinea,” and in key liaison positions with our partners and allies across the Pacific theater said Lt. Col Igor Dubinsky, TF Oceania deputy commander.

“The original intent of having civil affairs and culturally related Soldiers deploy to these countries was to work with the civilian population to collaborate and develop solutions to the specific issues these nations are dealing with, said Dubinsky. “However, from the time the task force was conceived to present-day, the world has been drastically changed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. With this change, so has our engagement strategy.”

The countries that call Oceania home may be small, but hold significant strategic importance for the U.S. and its allies in the region, said Dubinsky.

The two-soldier country teams are civil affairs trained and will work with the State Department and host-nation governments to execute senior leader engagements and facilitate exercises, conferences, humanitarian assistance and disaster response planning.

“U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is using a whole of government approach in designing, reviewing, and implementing Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid funded minimum cost projects. To date they have completed 204 projects worth $17.4M. These and future projects will provide medical supplies, hand washing stations, generators, tents to house medical supplies, portable toilets and cleaning supplies,” said Dubinsky.

For Col. Blaise Zandoli, TF Oceania commander, the reasons for being in Oceania are many but the most important is the human-to-human connection around shared values.

“The U.S. has strong historical ties with Oceania dating to at least WWII. These countries share fundamental values around democracy and a spiritual approach to human existence that embeds respect for the individual within a strong social context. Our shared values and mutually beneficial practical connections make the partnership between the U.S. and Pacific Island countries a natural fit,” explained Zandoli.

Task Force Oceania demonstrates how the Army remains committed to our global partners and ready for any challenge. Protective measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are being taken to operate in the region.