Leaders from 27 nations discuss Asia-Pacific challenges 

Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, commander, U.S. Army Pacific, left, and Australian Chief of Army Lt. Gen. David Morrison, welcome army leaders from 27 nations across the Pacific region to the 36th Annual Pacific Armies Management Seminar in Canberra. The theme was ‘Asia-Pacific Land Forces – New Challenges, Shared Solutions.’

 

Senior Army personnel from 27 Pacific nations are developing relationships and exchanging views during the 36th Pacific Armies Management Seminar (PAMS) in Canberra, Australia’s capital, in mid-July.

PAMS, the U.S. Army, Pacific’s largest theater security and cooperation event, is co-hosted by U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) and a different partner nation annually.

This is the third time Australia has hosted the event since it began in Hawaii in 1978.

"I feel honored to welcome so many of my colleagues from across the Pacific here in our nation’s capital for this collaborative exchange," the Australian chief of Army, Lt. Gen. David Morrison, said.

Morrison is co-hosting PAMS 2012 with the USARPAC commander, Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski.

"The Pacific Armies Management Seminar is the longest running security forces meeting in the Pacific region, and I believe the continued commitment by participants is recognition of the benefits PAMS provides in strengthening our interpersonal relationships and mutual trust," Wiercinski said.

PAMS is organized around a theme and several related topics.

This year’s theme is "Asia Pacific Land Forces: New Challenges, Shared Solutions."

Seminar attendees participated in workshops and presentations sharing experiences and best practices with this year’s focus on responding to natural disasters and managing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

Morrison says the focus on disaster relief is timely.

"Following every major flood, bushfire and cyclone, the Australian Army continues to refine our approach to disaster relief and recovery efforts," he said.

Adding, "Sharing these lessons with our Pacific neighbors and hearing their solutions to catastrophic incidents, like the 2011 tsunami in Japan and Thailand floods, offers an extremely valuable exchange for the benefit of all citizens in the Pacific region."

Three plenary sessions were held: "Challenges Confronting Asia-Pacific Land forces," hosted by Maldives and Malaysia; "Opportunities for Land Force Co-operation in the Asia-Pacific Region," hosted by Indonesia and Japan; and "Practical Approaches to Land Force Challenges in the Asia-Pacific Region," hosted by Bangladesh and New Zealand.

Guest speakers, national senior military officers or civilian experts, spoke during each session.

Presentations were followed by facilitated question and answer sessions.

Delegates then went into breakout working groups of 20 to 25 members each to further discuss and develop the topics.

The discussion of each topic concluded in a plenary session where the breakout working groups briefed their findings.

The seminar ended with a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief table top exercise, where nations put their solutions to the test in a controlled environment.

(Editor’s note: This article is based on a story by Sgt. 1st Class Kevin P. Bell.)