THE United States Naval Pacific Partnership 2022 which ended its mission in the country last weekend promised to support Solomon Islands during the time of natural disasters by providing services that are domestically unavailable.
The Civil Military Coordination Advisor based in Hawaii, Greg Saint Pierre, confirmed this assistance to this paper in an interview last week.
Greg is from the Centre for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance based in Hawaii.
He flew into the country last week to conduct workshops with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in Honiara.
“We were here working with the National Disaster Management Office to exchange information and learn about each other.
“We were learning about the National Disaster Management plan that the NDMO published in 2018, understanding how Solomon Islands prepares for disaster response and risk mitigation and we provided information on how the US Military, if we were ever requested to assist, can provide the capabilities that we can bring and the process that we go through to help.
“And so that mutual understanding will ensure that if we do assist in natural disaster response, we would be able to quickly respond effectively because we would know who to talk to, we would know what the procedures are from the beginning,” he said.
The US Military Disaster Unit has different policies and procedures they have to follow and so they have to make sure that Solomon Islands understands their procedures so that when they are requested to help, they can come in and provide the support needed in the most effective way.
“We think of the US Military Disaster response as the gap-filler.
“We don’t want to come in and take over the job. We want to do the job for the country. We just want to provide support in areas where you can’t provide support for yourselves at that time of disasters,” he said.
“A natural disaster can happen in a couple of days in which the US Military unit can bring in disaster assistance and distribute them across the population affected by the disaster.
“The US Military has the capability through helicopters and units that can be dispatched quickly to repair runways and operate ports.
“We can bring the capability to make the chain supply moving again and for the people to start getting back on their feet.
“When people come back to take care of their family, they can come back to take care of the airports and seaports and put them back in the operation,” Saint Pierre said.
An officer working with NDMO admitted that in times of natural disaster strike in the country, the NDMO does not have the capability of airlifting cargoes and relief assistance quickly to the affected areas.
This was experienced during the earthquake and tsunami disasters that struck parts of the Western and Choiseul provinces in April 2007.
The national government had to call for military assistance from donors to airlift the cargoes to the two provinces to distribute food, water, tents and other relief items.
By LACHLAN EDDIE
Solomon Star, Honiara