Pacom Forum Promotes Regional Disaster Preparedness
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2013 The top U.S. officer who oversees the Defense Department’s vast transportation and logistics network shared insights today in how closer cooperation can help Asia-Pacific nations to respond faster and more effectively in the event of a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis.
Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, addressed participants during the opening day of the 42nd Pacific Area Senior Officer Logistics Seminar in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
U.S. Pacific Command sponsors the forum of senior logistics and national security officers from Pacific, Asian and Indian Ocean area nations that meets annually to exchange information, pursue bilateral and multilateral initiatives and encourage closer regional cooperation.
This year’s PASOLS seminar, co-hosted by Vanuatu, includes nearly 120 representatives from 29 Pacific region nations, Navy Lt. Cmdr. David Jones, Pacom’s multinational logistics official, reported.
“PASOLS provides an opportunity to strengthen friendships and partnerships as well as make new ones,” Fraser told the international logisticians during the seminar’s opening day. “This enables us to then better plan and rapidly respond to contingencies whenever, wherever, and for whoever, which in many cases results in saving lives.
“Use your individual tools to build bridges and not walls,” Fraser urged the members. “We must leverage the talents and abilities of those here to enhance our collective capability.”
Participants will explore ways to do just that during four days of discussions focused on improving regional disaster response through cooperation, established communication channels and standardized logics procedures and best practices, Jones said.
Briefings and workshops will address challenges regional nations have faced across the entire response timeline. Representatives from India, Brunei and Indonesia are scheduled to share their experiences and lessons learned in humanitarian assistance and disaster response planning.
Officials from South Korea, China and Thailand will discuss humanitarian assistance and disaster response deployment. Participants from Singapore, Sri Lanka and France will address their experiences through the sustainment and transition phases.
Throughout the sessions, participants will explore ways to better exercise response procedures and to develop improved standard operating procedures that promote closer interagency and international cooperation during crises, Jones said.
Responses to regional natural disasters and other contingencies will be far better, he said, if the nations understand each other’s operations, share basic principles and learn from each other’s experiences.
“For 42 years, nations throughout the Pacific region have been utilizing this forum to collaborate and share their national experiences and perspectives,” Jones said.
“PASOLS is more than an annual seminar and workshop,” he added. “It is a vibrant organization that publishes a mutual logistics support handbook that helps prepare for multiple contingencies before they happen. PASOLS is a dynamic, growing organization focused on further strengthening regional logistics cooperation while improving interoperability between nations.”
That helps to make the entire region better prepared to deal with crises before they occur, Jones said.
“We are working to ensure that we have the right capabilities, processes, networks, and support agreements in place to effectively respond to any contingency,” he added.
U.S. Army Pacific sponsored the first PASOLS in 1971, with eight member nations. Pacom expanded it to a multiservice initiative in 1976, and PASOLS has grown to include 26 nations and more than 120 participants.