Pacom leads military in pandemic planning

HHS asks states for pandemic plans

HONOLULU -- The U.S. Pacific Command (Pacom) is ahead of other major combatant commands in planning for a potential pandemic flu, but its preparations lag behind other countries in Asia and the Pacific, Adm. William Fallon, Pacom commander, said here today at the opening of annual the AFCEA TechNet Asia-Pacific conference.

Fallon said Pacom stands ahead of the power curve in its pandemic planning efforts compared with other commands, but based on a recent conference with the heads of Defense of Asia-Pacific countries, they are “way ahead of efforts here.”

Rear Adm. R.D. Hufstader, Pacom command surgeon, told a joint House committee hearing of the Hawaii State Legislature last month that the command intends to create a Pacific Region Coordination Center to help manage a coordinated response to a pandemic by the United States and 43 Asia-Pacific nations.

Hufstader said that this center will provide "rapid communications, coordination and information sharing among the 43 nations, their militaries, international organizations and U.S. interagency representatives active in the Pacific.” He added that the establishment of a pandemic regional coordination center is based on "our tsunami relief experience, where such a central coordination capability facilitated an improved disaster response.”

Fallon said he anticipates a “sit down” meeting with President Bush on pandemic planning efforts in the next week or so and said he has tapped Lt. Gen. John Goodman, commander of Marine Forces, Pacific, to lead Pacom pandemic planning efforts.

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