Story by Staff Sgt. Solomon Navarro, Task Force Oceania
Task Force Oceania s Team Timor-Leste and members of the U.S. Navy Seabees worked together to conduct joint-humanitarian efforts in the Pacific island country Jan. 6-7.
The purpose of the team-up, which was encouraged by the Falintil de Defesa de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL), was to serve the vulnerable populations of the country, meet the peoples immediate needs, and strengthen U.S. and Timor-Leste military relations.
Our team arrived with the current U.S. Navy team in July of 2020, said Major Ruby Gee, officer-in-charge of the civil affairs team. They played a critical role in getting us to Timor-Leste and since then, we have worked together on site-surveys, hospitals and schools, as well as humanitarian visits to orphanages.
Team Timor-Leste worked with the U.S. Navy unit to create a list of organizations that would benefit most from the donations and together, delivered them to those groups.
The recipients included Uma Amerika, part of a U.S. Embassy program to develop young leaders, Casa Vida, a gender-based violence shelter that provides haven as well as medical and psychological support to victims of abuse, the Ahiasaun Foundation which provides housing and care for the disabled, the Dominican Sisters Orphanage, and the An-nur Mosque which also has an orphanage.
The Seabees usually build schools, but in between projects, they do outreach and for that they build tables for community service groups on the island, Gee said.
It was great teamwork where we were able to combine the Seabee s construction capabilities to benefit the organizations we have built relationships with, said Cpl. Lydia McKinney, the team s cultural liaison non-commissioned-officer. I hope the picnic tables are a resource for all the members of these organizations and they can use them for many years.
Task Force Oceania consists of civil affairs-trained Soldiers organized into two-person Pacific augmentation teams that carry out a multitude to tasks with a primary emphasis of engaging with civilian populations within their area of operation.
Team Timor-Leste is working toward maintaining a dialogue with community groups serving youth and vulnerable populations, and through those relationships, getting a better sense of the challenges the people face and how they can best help.
Under U.S. Army Pacific guidance to work with the State Department and host nation governments to execute senior leader engagements, exercises, conferences, symposiums, humanitarian assistance and disaster response planning, Task Force Oceania s Pacific Augmentation Teams work in concert with U.S. Embassies to engage local populations within the Pacific Island Countries to identify problems and collaborate on finding solutions.