Pakistan — Navy Choppers Provide Aid to Pakistani Flood Victims

WASHINGTON — As flood­ing con­tin­ues to plague Pak­istan, the U.S. Navy is pro­vid­ing heli­copters from a detach­ment in Bahrain to car­ry sup­plies into the strick­en country’s Swat val­ley.

Mem­bers of the Navy’s Heli­copter Mine Coun­ter­mea­sures Squadron 15 Detach­ment 2 spoke in a “DoD Live” blog­gers round­table today to explain the ins and outs of their mission. 

To date, the U.S. has pledged to pro­vide more than $76 mil­lion in assis­tance to flood-affect­ed peo­ple in Pak­istan. Twen­ty-two U.S. mil­i­tary and civil­ian air­craft are in Pak­istan in sup­port of flood relief oper­a­tions. U.S. heli­copters have evac­u­at­ed more than 5,000 peo­ple and deliv­ered more than 500,000 pounds of relief supplies. 

In addi­tion, U.S. mil­i­tary car­go air­craft based in Afghanistan have trans­port­ed more than 268,000 pounds of inter­na­tion­al aid from the Pak­istani air force’s cen­tral flood relief cell in Rawalpin­di, Pak­istan, to oth­er loca­tions through­out the country. 

In the past five days, HM-15 and its MH-53E “Sea Drag­on” air­craft have been able to evac­u­ate more than 1,600 peo­ple and deliv­er more than 271,000 pounds of food and oth­er relief sup­plies. The unit has been at Ghazi Air Base for a week, but rain and cloud cov­er lim­it­ed their abil­i­ty to get to the peo­ple in Swat. 

Navy Lt. Sean Sny­der, one of HM-15’s pilots, said the high alti­tudes have been dif­fi­cult to get accus­tomed to. The air­craft responds dif­fer­ent­ly to the thin­ner air at high­er alti­tudes, he explained, so con­trol­ling the heli­copter under a full load has been hard­er than it would be regularly. 

“It’s been a chal­lenge get­ting the mis­sion done every day,” he said. “Had it been a sea-lev­el sit­u­a­tion, we prob­a­bly could have dou­bled [the amount of evac­u­a­tions and deliv­er­ies].” Although Sny­der and crew mem­ber Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer 2nd Class Kevin Strick­houser oper­ate only in one area, they said the wide­spread dam­age has been appar­ent as they fly over the coun­try. The fact that the Unit­ed Nations is press­ing for more aid and more orga­ni­za­tions are ral­ly­ing to help the coun­try is heart­en­ing, they said. HM-15 is doing fine mov­ing things, Strick­houser said, but any more help would be appreciated. 

“Any­thing any­body can send won’t be enough to stop the suf­fer­ing that peo­ple are going through right now; I don’t think that there’s any­thing that can be done [to fix things right away],” Sny­der said. “The more they can pro­vide, so the assets can be spread out to help the whole coun­try, would be very useful.” 

Sny­der said his crew and the oth­er MH-53E’s crew from HM-15 have been work­ing tire­less­ly to car­ry food and get as many peo­ple out of harm’s way as pos­si­ble. Usu­al­ly, Sny­der said, about five trips to and from the val­ley can be made dai­ly by each aircraft. 

Though con­cerns have been raised that the Tal­iban in the area may some­how be using the flood to their advan­tage by help­ing peo­ple as a recruit­ment tool, there’s no indi­ca­tion the insur­gents are pro­vid­ing assis­tance, Sny­der said. 

“Oth­er than what we’re tak­ing in and what the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment is pro­vid­ing, I haven’t seen any oth­er groups doing any assis­tance,” Sny­der said, adding that he has seen noth­ing of the Tal­iban first­hand or anec­do­tal­ly. “Peo­ple from the World Food Pro­gram are here, but I haven’t seen any­thing else.” 

Strick­houser added that there has been lit­tle dis­rup­tion of any kind to mis­sions beyond the bad weath­er on their arrival. The Pak­istani army is pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty and has land­ing zones pre­pared for U.S. air­craft, and gen­er­al­ly the peo­ple wait­ing for aid have been order­ly out­side the estab­lished land­ing perimeter. 

“We’re only there for a short peri­od of time before they take off, so they don’t see a lot on the ground through­out the day,” he said, “but there haven’t been any prob­lems. The only peo­ple who approach the air­craft are there to get the food we’re bring­ing, and they take it to the oth­ers out­side our perimeter.” 

Mean­while, Sny­der and Strick­houser said, mem­bers of the U.S. mil­i­tary, the State Depart­ment, the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment and a col­lec­tion of non­govern­ment orga­ni­za­tions con­tin­ue to pro­vide assis­tance to strick­en Pakistanis. 

“The Pak­istani gov­ern­ment deter­mines where they need U.S. aid, and then the U.S. decides if they’re able to help there with the equip­ment they have,” Strick­houser said. 

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

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →