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Enduring Friendships Enable Future Success During Pacific Partnership 2017

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Fulton | | May 31, 2017

KHANH HOA, Vietnam -- Pacific Partnership 2017 missions to Da Nang and Khanh Hoa, May 8-29, marked the fourth consecutive visit and eighth visit in 11 years of Pacific Partnership missions to Vietnam, building upon the success of previous Pacific Partnership missions to enhance regional relationships.

As mission participants work together, sharing their knowledge and expertise to enhance humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, personal relationships are developed which enable the positive results of future engagements by establishing friendships that transcend the mission.

Individuals such as Capt. Keshav Nayak, director, Cardiac Cathlabs Naval Medical Center San Diego, have been a major part of developing the sustained success of Pacific Partnership missions in Vietnam by developing personal connections with local doctors during multiple mission engagements.

"My first Pacific Partnership mission was in 2010, where I was the cardiologist on board the USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) for Pacific Partnership 2010, visiting Quy Nhon in central Vietnam," said Nayak. "Since then I have led the interventional cardiology subject-matter expert exchange team on Pacific Partnership 2015, 2016 and 2017, all in Da Nang. I have also had the good fortune of visiting Hanoi to tie up with the Military 103 hospital and the military medical school there."

Nayak's rapport with Vietnamese medical experts is the result of a professional camaraderie developed by working side-by-side to treat local patients during multiple years of Pacific Partnership medical exchanges.

The shared commitment to providing excellent medical care creates a dynamic partnership between mission participants and local doctors that outlasts the mission stop, cultivating stronger international relations through the development of personal connections.

"We have a very close bond in Da Nang with the cardiologists at Da Nang General Hospital due to our repeat engagements there, and I exchange advice and consultation with them through email long after the mission ends," said Nayak. "These missions provide improved capability, capacity and relationship building at the national and individual level."

Nayak continued, "I derive great personal and professional satisfaction interacting with my counterparts in Vietnam to take care of patients together. We gain tremendous expertise in practicing medical diplomacy by getting through natural language, cultural and societal barriers and deriving great project success with excellent outcomes."

The enduring connections created through repeated medical engagements extend to the patients who receive the combined care of U.S. Navy medical professionals and local Vietnamese doctors and nurses, generating positive results for all involved.

"Seeing the patients we treated from 2015 and 2016 this year was very rewarding. The patients remembered our team and what we did for them," said Nayak. "It is very humbling and an experience I will cherish forever."

Now in its 12th year, Pacific Partnership continues to enhance regional partnerships and host-nation relationships through civil-military cooperation, medical exchanges, and inter-government agency coordination.