KUCHING: The Pacific Partnership Exercise 2019 (PP19) will mark another milestone in strengthening the relationship amongst participating nations.

According to Joint Force Commander Lieutenant General Datuk Suhaimi Mohd Zuki, the PP19 will have an overwhelming and significant influence in future relations amongst the partner nations, especially the armed forces of various fields.

He said, “With the concept of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), the exercise will enhance military’s collaboration, cooperation and working together to achieve our objectives.”

“Hence, exchange of information, best practices in operations, mutual understanding and cooperation are some of the benefits that are expected of this exercise, apart from strengthening the existing strategic relationship amongst participating nations,” he stated in his speech during the opening ceremony of the PP19 at the Pending Port here, today.

Joint Armed Forces Commander Lt. General Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Zuki (left) shake hands with Mission Commander for Pasific Partnership 2019 Captain Randy Van Rossum during the opening of Pacific Partnership (PP19) Exercise at Pending Port, Kuching.

Suhaimi added that the natural disasters such as floods, landslides forest fires and others destroy homes, possessions and lives, affects millions of people every year.

“I believe most countries represented in this exercise organise their disaster-preparedness primarily as part of the civil sector responsibility where military capabilities in the defence will be used in situations of severe crisis,” he pointed out.

Suhaimi continued: “It is appropriate to call the attention to the large part of the armed forces’ resources, competence and personnel, which can also be utilised in time of disaster. Handling disaster will requires the contribution from actors of different disciplines in ensuring appropriate measures, systematic plans are in place to response and recover from the situation, to reduce the effect on the societies is the ultimate objectives.”

“Thus, the exercise would be a platform in developing systematic responses and updating plans in providing assistance in the event of a disaster. It will also give us invaluable training which will be the key tenets to ensuring our regional neighbours are given the necessary assistance in time of disaster,” he elaborated.

“Definitely there are differences between countries so experiences from international operations are very valuable. I am sure in this exercise, we will be able to interact and share experiences and practices,” Suhaimi said.

“Together, we shall be able to develop “Best Practices” in handling disaster to improve national and regional future coordination and cooperation,” he concluded.

The Pacific Partnership is an annual multilateral exercise involving the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF), the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and the partner nations such as Australia, the Philippines, Japan, Peru, Thailand and the United Kingdom focusing on civil-military relations.

The exercise will involved 500 participants from the MAF, the United States Military personnel, the National Disaster Management Agency, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team and other government agencies.

It will provide participants with the opportunity to exchange expertise, experience, procedures and improve the ability and readiness of MAF and all agencies involved in implementing humanitarian aid missions within or outside the country.

Continued from the success of the organisation in 2017 and 2018, Malaysia once again has been chosen to host the exercise which runs from March 28 to April 12.

Amongst those present at the event were PP19 Mission Commander US Navy Captain Randy Van Rossum, US Ambassador Deputy Chief of Mission Dean Johnson, 1st Infantry Division General Officer Commanding (GOC) Major General Datuk Md Din Abu and Assistant Chief of Staff J7 First Admiral Chan Peng Cheong.