Haiti — Southcom Completes Haiti Disaster Response

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2010 — The U.S. mil­i­tary today offi­cial­ly end­ed its earth­quake dis­as­ter response in Haiti today, leav­ing what is left of assis­tance with human­i­tar­i­an and con­struc­tion projects on the island to two annu­al mil­i­tary exer­cis­es in the region.

U.S. South­ern Com­mand, which over­saw the mas­sive relief effort, offi­cial­ly stood down the effort in Haiti’s cap­i­tal of Port-Au-Prince. “I am proud of Joint Task Force Haiti’s accom­plish­ments and the men and women who filled its ranks,” Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, the first com­man­der of the command’s Joint Task Force-Haiti, said. Keen added that the relief effort couldn’t have hap­pened with­out the col­lab­o­ra­tion of the mil­i­tary with the State Depart­ment, non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions, and the Hait­ian gov­ern­ment.

The Jan. 12, mag­ni­tude 7 earth­quake trig­gered an imme­di­ate, response that, at its peak, includ­ed 22,000 forces — 7,000 based on land and the remain­der oper­at­ing aboard 58 air­craft and 15 near­by ves­sels, accord­ing to South­com offi­cials.

One of the first mil­i­tary con­tri­bu­tions was the reopen­ing of Tou­s­saint L’Ouverture Inter­na­tion­al Air­port in Port au Prince by air­men with the 1st Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Wing. The air­men land­ed on the island with­in 30 hours of the earth­quake and, 30 min­utes after land­ing, con­trolled air­field oper­a­tions from a card table using hand-held radios to safe­ly land and take-off hun­dreds of air­craft, a South­com offi­cial said.

The earth­quake response includ­ed one of the largest med­ical out­reach efforts in his­to­ry. Ser­vice­mem­bers treat­ed and eval­u­at­ed thou­sands of Hait­ian patients, includ­ing more than 8,600 on the Navy hos­pi­tal ship USNS Com­fort. Sur­geons aboard the ship com­plet­ed near­ly 1,000 surg­eries.

Mil­i­tary mem­bers also deliv­ered more than 2.6 mil­lion bot­tles of water, 2.2 mil­lion food rations, 17 mil­lion pounds of bulk food and 149,000 pounds of med­ical sup­plies into Haiti. While the earth­quake response effort is over, South­com offi­cials not­ed that the mil­i­tary will con­tin­ue human­i­tar­i­an and con­struc­tion projects in Haiti through­out the sum­mer and fall hur­ri­cane sea­son. The USS Iwo Jima is to arrive on the island in July as part of Con­tin­u­ing Promise 2010, an annu­al civic assis­tance exer­cise sup­port­ed by U.S. and inter­na­tion­al mil­i­tary med­ical per­son­nel, civil­ian gov­ern­ment agen­cies, and aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions.

Also, about 500 Nation­al Guard mem­bers will begin con­struc­tion projects in Haiti this month as part of its New Hori­zons, a pro­gram it began in the 1980s to con­duct joint and com­bined human­i­tar­i­an exer­cis­es that South­com con­ducts annu­al­ly in Latin Amer­i­ca and the Caribbean. The exer­cis­es will include build­ing schools, clin­ics and com­mu­ni­ty cen­ters that can also serve as hur­ri­cane shel­ters.

In addi­tion­al to Con­tin­u­ing Promise and New Hori­zons, South­com will fund $13 mil­lion of dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness and human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance projects designed to enhance the capac­i­ty of the Hait­ian gov­ern­ment to pro­vide for the cit­i­zens.

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