HANOI, Vietnam -- Army delegations from 26 Indo-Pacific countries gathered in Hanoi, Vietnam for the opening ceremony of the 42nd Pacific Armies Management Seminar (PAMS XLII) and the 4th Senior Enlisted Leader Forum (SELF IV), at the Melia Hotel, Aug. 20.
The United States Army Pacific (USARPAC), headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, and another Indo-Pacific country have co-hosted the event annually since 1977. The seminar is a forum for senior-level land force officers to meet and discuss professional military subjects on a non-attribution basis. It has proven its value by enhancing mutually beneficial army-to-army associations, furthering the long-term objectives of promoting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region through understanding, dialogue, and interpersonal relationships.
Now in its fourth year, SELF is a similar construct for enlisted leaders and warrant officers in the region to meet for an open and candid dialogue to share lessons learned, build and maintain relationships and provide understanding for what each army can and cannot provide during crisis situations.
"This is our seventh time joining in the PAMS seminar, but this is a very important event because it marks the first time for Vietnam being the co-host with the U.S.," said Sr. Lt. Gen. Pham Hong Huong, the Vietnamese Deputy Chief of General Staff. "Our main purpose is to exchange knowledge and experiences in the tactics of HA/DR (Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief) in order to save the lives of people in the Indo-Pacific region."
The theme of both PAMS and SELF are "Cooperation among Indo-Pacific Land Forces in Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response (HA/DR)." This theme is further discussed during plenary sessions, where participants will discuss Land Forces' Initial Responses to HA/DR, Multilateral Cooperation, and Enhancing Roles in Regional Cooperation for HA/DR and Search and Rescue.
The Chief of the General Staff, Vietnam People's Army, Sr. Lt. Gen. Phan Van Giang, was the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony and addressed the future leaders in the audience.
"I believe that many of you sitting here will be given the great responsibility of on-scene command in an emergency, and I hope that what you will gain from this seminar will help you perform your future missions," said Giang.
Gen. Robert B. Brown, commanding general, U.S. Army Pacific, said he attended his first PAMS as a captain over 25 years ago, so he has witnessed the growth of the seminar.
"We have up to 26 countries that are present at this year's seminar, who are here to show their commitment and common vision of partners working together in the Indo-Pacific region to promote stability, peace and teamwork," said Brown.
Countries participating in this year's events include: Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Fiji, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.
PAMS XLII and SELF IV are forums to facilitate a collective understanding of shared challenges and an opportunity to build strong interpersonal relationships between leaders of regional land forces.
Brown provided an example of results produced as a multinational team during last year's PAMS XLI in Korea.
"We realized that when you provide support in a disaster there has to be a multinational coordination center to coordinate all the efforts. When folks come in and start providing assistance on their own, it's not well synchronized, you waste assets, and you have problems," said Brown.
PAMS is the largest theater security and cooperation event co-hosted by USARPAC in terms of country participation. The long-term objective of PAMS is to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship.
"I think it's a very important point that you don't want to wait until a crisis happens to form relationships. That is very difficult in the middle of a crisis so events like this make a huge difference in relationships and sharing ideas," said Brown. "We have an opportunity this week to come together for discussions and cooperation and share ideas will result in saving lives around the region."