By Lieutenant Theresa Donnelly, Pacific Command Public AffairsAugust 28, 2010
CHANGI NAVAL BASE, Singapore - Interoperability based not on rank, uniform or country brought together 16 Asia-Pacific militaries for the 7th annual Pacific Endeavor, a humanitarian communication workshop sponsored by the Singapore Armed Forces and U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) at the Changi Command and Control Center at Changi Naval Base, Singapore Aug. 16-27.
At the workshop, military communication technology experts tested their abilities to rapidly establish a communication infrastructure within a disaster relief scenario using web-based 2.0 technologies.
But what might be the most memorable part of the workshop for many was the opportunity to form life-long friendships with counterparts in the communication field.
"The number one thing we accomplish at this workshop is the ability to work together better. We all have the same goals and objectives when helping people in need," said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Brett Williams, director for Command, Control, Communications, Computer Systems Directorate (J6).
The workshop not only tested the militaries ability to coordinate communication procedures, but provided a venue to establish relationships with first responders from the humanitarian community and private industry. Often, in a humanitarian crisis it is the non-governmental organizations that have the lead in response efforts, with the military in a supporting role. Exercising the military's ability to communicate with all organizations is crucial to saving lives in a natural disaster.
"We know that in a humanitarian crisis there will be a lot of other agencies participating as well as the military. By exercising together, we will know their operational requirements, and we can set up a better communication system," Singapore Armed Forces Brig Gen. Lee Shiang Long, Head Joint Communications & Information Systems Department.
A highlight of the workshop was the ability to interact with each country and learn the cultures and customs for each. Throughout the two weeks, organizers planned a number of events so participants could build friendships with one another in an informal setting. Attendees visited Singapore museums, historic monuments and learned about the Singapore culture via their hosts from the Singapore Armed Forces.
"The best experiences I have had here are the interpersonal relationships with the officers from all the countries. The friendships I have made have been the best aspect of being here," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Travis Goodwin, support director for Pacific Endeavor.
"I now know the right person to go to for communication clearances, which is critical to successful execution of the mission," said Goodwin.
Pacific Endeavor participants have found that success or failure in disaster response is completely dependent on establishing good working relationships with each other. Pacific Endeavor, like many other military exchanges throughout the PACOM region, enables the dialogue for increased coordination and cooperation.
"The most important part of any military response is the human factor. Once you have forged a strong human relationship, you can just make a phone call and we now understand each other's culture, we communicate better and achieve a common purpose," said Brig Gen. Lee Shiang Long.