Seven aviators from the Royal Australian Air Force deployed on a civil-engineering program in central Mongolia as part of Exercise Pacific Angel 23 this month. Led by the United States Pacific Air Forces, Exercise Pacific Angel brings together countries from around the region to positively impact the lives of thousands of people in the Indo- Pacific.
For this latest iteration, US and RAAF civil engineering teams worked with the Mongolian Armed Forces along with civilian and regional agencies to restore a local hospital. Wing Commander Paul Howell, Commanding Officer of 65 Air Base Recovery Squadron, said five of his aviators joined the RAAF team.
“There’s a strategic goal to this exercise, where our professional engagement and support to Mongolia helps build regional partnerships,” Wing Commander Howell said. “For our aviators, the exercise builds partnerships at the local level as they apply their skills in restoring civil infrastructure within remote Mongolian communities.”
The team’s skill sets included carpentry, plumbing and plant operations, which were used in the remote Mongolian villages of Tsetserleg and Jargalant. Two other RAAF aviators provided combat first aid and Mongolian linguist support and cultural awareness. After the 20-hour flight to Mongolia’s bustling capital city, Ulaanbaatar, the small RAAF contingent drove another 10 hours along difficult roads, arriving at the ancient cultural village of Tseterleg, near the Khangai mountains.
Detachment commander Warrant Officer Andrew Warmington, from 65 Air Base Recovery Squadron, directed the hospital restoration project as the senior engineer on site, managing up to 20 people from different backgrounds.
The hospital site was a small outpost half an hour from Tseterleg. Despite being very old and run down, local staff made the most of what they had and kept it clean and tidy. The team of RAAF aviators demonstrated a range of skill sets and ingenuity, integrating easily with the other forces and discussing different ways in which to conduct tasks.
Exercise Pacific Angel is a multilateral endeavour, enhancing the participating nations’ humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities. It has provided services to people in need throughout the wider Pacific for more than a decade.