My respects to:
- F-FDTL Chief of Defense Force Major General Lere
- Deputy Chief of Defense Brigadier General Falur
- F-FDTL Chief of Staff Colonel Coliati
- DCM Pip Venning, Australian Embassy
- Counsellor Shusaku Hirashima, Japanese Embassy
- Warrant Officer Aaron French, New Zealand Embassy
- F-FDTL Component Commanders
- Honored guests; and participants of Hari’i Hamutuk 2020
Good morning and thank you for inviting me to speak.
On behalf of the United States of America, I am proud to be with you today to close the 7th annual Hari’i Hamutuk exercise. This year, the exercise brought together members from the F-FDTL, the Australian Defense Force, and U.S. Navy Seabees. Our teams took extraordinary measures to follow quarantining procedures so that we could safely train and ‘build together.’
This year, Hari’i Hamutuk included approximately 50 like-minded partners working side-by-side for nearly a month to train and execute several construction projects.
I commend your efforts to include renewable energy to power an F-FDTL border post that is working to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The team also constructed a new maintenance facility here in Baucau, which will support a plan of adding a Service and Support Company. Also, in Baucau, U.S. Seabees and F-FDTL engineers continue to construct a 3-room classroom at EBC Vila Nova.
These efforts demonstrate the main theme of US defense cooperation with Timor-Leste: strengthening Timor-Leste’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities, and its interoperability with multinational partners in this important task.
Hari’i Hamutuk also bolsters bonds among our militaries, where we exchange stories (both in English and Tetum), share meals, and built lasting friendships. We are stronger when we are interoperable, and exercises like Hari’i Hamutuk will better integrate Timor-Leste with its Indo-Pacific partners. I like to refer to it as ‘building bridges.’
Notably, Hari’i Hamutuk is also building democracies – all of the nations participating in Hari’i Hamutuk represent a shared commitment to promoting democratic values across the Indo-Pacific region. The work of our militaries demonstrates how defense forces in a democracy work in support of the people.
I’ll close by saying that the United States will continue partnering with the F-FDTL to expand engineering capabilities. The U.S. Seabees recently completed its 100th project and we will continue to execute future projects alongside F-FDTL engineers. These projects provide benefits to the Timorese people while promoting a standard of high-quality construction. We are committed to F-FDTL Engineers providing the same high-quality construction either here in Timor-Leste or perhaps when deployed on a UN mission. Regardless the task, we are here partnering with you.
Congratulations to all the participants in Hari’i Hamutuk. I look forward to bringing everyone back together for Hari’i Hamutuk 2021.