The final Pacific Angel Exercise for 2019 has concluded with a closing ceremony to highlight the successful program that will leave the local community in Lae, Papua New Guinea, healthier and stronger.
Partner nations United States Air Force (USAF), Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Royal Australian Air Force (Air Force), Papua New Guinea Defence Forces (PNGDF) and Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) provided free medical check-ups, dental, physiotherapy, optometry and infectious disease treatment, as well as refurbishing four schools with local contractors and subject-matter expert exchanges.
PNGDF Chief of Staff, Captain Philip Polewara, extended his great gratitude to the participating nations, volunteers and the local PNG community for their contributions during Pacific Angel.
“Our Defense Force is very small but our people serve it proudly - having the opportunity to work alongside and learn from our US and Australian partners is very special,” Capt Polewara said.
“These exercises give you the chance to experience our beautiful country, culture, and support PNG’s future.
“We look forward to more frequent visits and a continued relationship with our friends and partners.”
Officer in Charge of the Australian Contingent and Environmental Health Officer, Squadron Leader Evelyn Wright said the strong relationship with PNG is important to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Our countries work together on several issues including improving transparency and good governance, combating human trafficking, protecting fisheries, improving public health and promoting gender equality,” SQNLDR Wright said.
“Pacific Angel specifically helps the local government and international aid agencies establish important relationships to increase response abilities during a crisis.
“I’m so proud of our people, together with the US and PNGDF medical teams, we treated more than 3861 cases over five days at the medical ‘pop up’ clinic at Bowali Primary School.
“There were many other partners that made this activity possible including the PNG Police, the Angau General Hospital staff and the Red Cross volunteers.
“Most importantly, we have to thank the people of PNG for the warm welcome into their communities.
“We will return to Australia with wonderful memories and fuller hearts knowing that we have helped the community with free health services, improved school facilities, and additional medical supplies and equipment for the local hospital.
“Our participation in Pacific Angel demonstrates the commitment of our countries and its people to a trusted and enduring partnership.”
United States Pacific Air Forces, Colonel Darryl Insley said Pacific Angel represents a physical and tangible partnership within the region to ensure a free and open Indo-pacific.
“We have seen lessons learned exchanges between medical professionals and a deeper understanding of each other’s capabilities all while improving the health and comfort of the citizens,” COL. Insley said.
“We’ve all seen the smile on the children’s faces as we worked together to improve the quality of their education which will translate directly into a more prosperous Papua New Guinea and therefore Indo-pacific.
“On behalf of the United States Air Force, thank you to the joint team from the Papua New Guinea Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force and Republic of Fiji Military Forces for the incredible amount of work that goes into planning and executing an operation on this scale.”
Australia has been partnering with PNGDF for 40 years and will continue to do so into the future.
The United States and Australia celebrated 100 years of mateship last year and that alliance was evident during Pacific Angel.
The ADF is committed to further enhance Australia’s regional defence engagement and continue to expand defence cooperation in aviation, maritime, infrastructure and capability development.