Ceremony Marks End of Pakistan Flood Relief Operations

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2010 — U.S. troops sup­port­ing the human­i­tar­i­an relief effort to flood-strick­en Pak­istan end­ed their mis­sion today.
Pak­istani offi­cials host­ed a cer­e­mo­ny mark­ing the occa­sion in Islam­abad, the country’s cap­i­tal.

At the end of oper­a­tions, 18 U.S. mil­i­tary heli­copters and about 350 U.S. ser­vice­mem­bers were con­duct­ing air­lift mis­sions.

“This was not the begin­ning, and it was not the end. This is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the U.S.-Pakistan rela­tion­ship,” said Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik, com­man­der of the Pak­istan army’s 11th Corps.

At the effort’s peak, the Unit­ed States deployed 26 heli­copters, mul­ti­ple C-130 and C-17 car­go air­craft and sev­er­al hun­dred ser­vice­mem­bers work­ing in close part­ner­ship with Pak­istani mil­i­tary forces. The floods affect­ed more than 20 mil­lion peo­ple in Pak­istan begin­ning in July.

“We have been hon­ored to part­ner with the mil­i­tary forces of Pak­istan to bring aid and com­fort for those in need,” said Army Brig. Gen. Michael Naga­ta, deputy com­man­der of Office of the Defense Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to Pak­istan and the deployed Task Force com­man­der. “The sup­port, cama­raderie and spir­it of coop­er­a­tion and shared effort have been extra­or­di­nary.” U.S. offi­cials stressed that while the mil­i­tary human­i­tar­i­an effort is end­ing, the Unit­ed States will con­tin­ue finan­cial relief. The U.S. gov­ern­ment is pro­vid­ing more than $571 mil­lion to assist Pak­istan with relief and recov­ery efforts for flood vic­tims.

The Islam­abad cer­e­mo­ny was a chance to thank the com­bined and joint task force of U.S. and Pak­istani mil­i­tary and civil­ian aid agen­cies, who pro­vid­ed food, shel­ter and aer­i­al evac­u­a­tion for tens of thou­sands of Pak­ista­nis affect­ed by the floods.

Amer­i­can heli­copters deliv­ered human­i­tar­i­an aid to vil­lages cut off by the flood­ing of the Indus Riv­er. Chop­pers also res­cued more than 40,000 Pak­ista­nis dur­ing the past five months of oper­a­tions. Air Force C-130s and C-17 car­go air­craft deliv­ered bulk goods to dis­tri­b­u­tion sites around the coun­try.

U.S. air­craft deliv­ered more than 25 mil­lion pounds of relief sup­plies dur­ing the oper­a­tion.

When the floods struck, Army heli­copters from neigh­bor­ing Afghanistan were among the first inter­na­tion­al air­craft on the scene. Marine heli­copters from the 15th Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit aboard the USS Peleliu replaced the Army heli­copters by the end of Sep­tem­ber. Heli­copters from the 26th Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit joined the effort in Sep­tem­ber.

The U.S. mil­i­tary human­i­tar­i­an effort worked close­ly with Pak­istani mil­i­tary and civil­ian author­i­ties to ensure the aid got where it was need­ed, when it was need­ed, Defense Depart­ment offi­cials said. Ser­vice­mem­bers also worked close­ly with inter­na­tion­al aid orga­ni­za­tions to trans­port goods and peo­ple.

Unusu­al­ly heavy mon­soon rains trig­gered the floods through the Swat Riv­er Val­ley — an area that was a key bat­tle­ground against the Pak­istani Tal­iban last year. Flood­ing pro­ceed­ed down­stream, spilling out of the country’s trib­al areas to its more pop­u­lous provinces.

The effort now shifts to recov­ery and recon­struc­tion, and U.S. embassy offi­cials promised to help in the tasks that lie ahead.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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