Also known as the ‘world’s hazard belt,’ the Indian Ocean is highly prone to natural disasters. Therefore, humanitarian operations such as disaster response, assistance and rebuilding have become a core duty for the armed forces in the region.

The US has conducted many humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) training programmes, exercises and engagements with militaries, governments and NGOs in the region. Pacific Angel (PAC ANGEL) is one such joint HADR effort between the US Pacific Air Forces and the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) with multinational partners from Nepal, Bangladesh and the Maldives.

PAC ANGEL 2018, which kicked off on 6 August, included a medical outreach programme, renovation, and upliftment of hospital and school infrastructure (including plumbing, electrical work, improving sanitation and water supply facilities), as well as funding for Sri Lanka’s military.

Major General James O. Eifert of the US Air National Guard – Pacific Air Forces observed that working with the SLAF to organise the exercise had been a “perfect partnership.” The next exercise takes place in 2020.