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News | July 19, 2022

RIMPAC Medical Symposium Focuses on Interoperability

On July 1, 2022, a panel of four medical flag officers from the United States and Australia met to discuss joint-medical readiness during the 2022 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) Medical Symposium at Sharkey Theater on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The theme of the medical symposium was "interoperability." The panel members discussed how international partnerships and standardization can improve patient outcomes if and when medical assets are called to respond to a wartime situation or humanitarian crisis.

To achieve interoperability, we must first “understand what each of our expectations will be,” said Rear Adm. Bruce Gillingham, Navy Surgeon General. “We know that we will encounter the unexpected. We will have to manage that and demonstrate high reliability behaviors to do that. But fundamentally, we can trust that our partners will be there and will work with us. The initial stages are all about building trust, understanding each other, and understanding our expectations moving forward, so when things become very kinetic, we know how to join and be interoperable.”
The theme of RIMPAC is “capable, adaptive partners.” The panel members honed in on those three words and talked about what they specifically mean to them.

“Capable, adaptive partners are absolutely critical,” said Sarah Sharkey, Royal Australia Navy. “It should be a reflex for us in the terms of the way we reach out and {build and sustain} our partnerships. It requires deliberate effort. It’s not intuitive and doesn’t come to us naturally. We all need to collectively lean into that behavior and make that a reflex in the way we do business. I think at all levels in our organization, you should feel empowered, wherever you sit in your command, to look for opportunities to integrate, partner and be interoperable.”

The panel consisted of Rear Adm. Gillingham; Rear Adm. Sharkey; Rear Adm. Pamela Miller, Indo-Pacific Command Surgeon; and Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi, U.S. Army Incoming 18th Medical Command Commanding General. The panel was facilitated by Capt. Michael McGinnis, U.S. Pacific Fleet Surgeon.

RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th iteration of the exercise that kicked off in 1971. This year, the exercise in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California includes 26 nations, 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans.
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