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US builds bonds in Papua New Guinea during Pacific Angel 19-4

U.S. Navy LT Austin Stokes and U.S. Air Force Maj. Nicole Smith, both Pacific Angel 19-4 dentists, talk to a patient at the PAC ANGEL 19-4 health outreach site in Lae, Papua New Guinea Sept. 8, 2019. The health outreach site is comprised of five clinics including primary care, optometry, dental, physical therapy and pharmacy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

U.S. Navy LT Austin Stokes and U.S. Air Force Maj. Nicole Smith, both Pacific Angel 19-4 dentists, talk to a patient at the PAC ANGEL 19-4 health outreach site in Lae, Papua New Guinea Sept. 8, 2019. The health outreach site is comprised of five clinics including primary care, optometry, dental, physical therapy and pharmacy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --

The United States will conduct health service outreach, engineering civic action programs and subject matter exchanges Sept. 9 to 13 in Lae in Marabe Province, Papua New Guinea, as part of Pacific Angel 19-4.

Approximately 70 U.S. and 20 multilateral service members will participate in Pacific Angel 19-4, enhancing PNG defense force’s humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities while providing medical outreach services.  

Civil engineering teams will renovate Bowali Primary School, Hounville Primary School, Igam Barracks Primary School and Butibam Primary School, conducting carpentry and masonry, roofing, plumbing, and electrical and painting work this exercise.  Medical experts will conduct health services outreach events focusing on general medicine, pediatrics, physical therapy, optometry, dental, pharmacy and public health.  Subject matter expert exchanges will cover construction safety, public health and dental health, communicable and non-communicable disease prevention, emergency response for medical providers, and non-lethal crowd control.

“The United States and Papua New Guinea have an enduring relationship going back more than 70 years,” said Catherine Ebert-Gray, U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. “With our shared history and shared values, PNG is a vital partner in the Pacific region. Exercises like [Pacific] Angel reaffirm that partnership, and our commitment to building capacity and resiliency for PNG and its defense force.”

This is the second Pacific Angel exercise conducted in Papua New Guinea.  The first was held in June 2015. This year, service members from Australia and Fiji are participating.

“Pacific Angel is a great way for the United States and Papua New Guinea service members to work side by side and exercise disaster responses and humanitarian assistance scenarios,” said Lt. Col. Ingrid Kaat, Pacific Air Forces International Affairs South Asia and Oceania branch chief.

Pacific Air Forces’ Airmen conducted a similar exercise called Pacific Unity in September 2014.  The Hawaii Air National Guard participated Pacific Unity 14-8, which was a bilateral engineering civic action program conducted with PNG civil authorities in Mount Hagen.  During that four week deployment, HIANG Airmen, active-duty Airmen, PNG defense forces and day laborers from the community completed construction on two dormitories, upgraded electrical systems in the school’s administration building, re-painted the school, re-roofed four boys’ dormitories, renovated the dining hall and put gravel down on the school’s entry road, reconstructed the covered walk way and built a new basketball goal in the school’s recreation area.

Pacific Angel 19-4 wraps up the 2019 series of Pacific Angel exercises for fiscal year 2019.  The first two exercise were conducted in Bangladesh in June and Mongolia in July where similar health service outreach, engineering civic action programs and subject matter exchanges events took place.

Papua New Guinea is located between the Coral Sea and South Pacific Ocean.  The country is slightly larger than California. Its natural hazards include active volcanism, frequent and sometime severe earthquakes, mudslides and tsunamis.