Pakistan — USS Peleliu to Provide Helos for Pakistan Relief

TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 11, 2010 — The USS Peleliu will pro­vide heli­copter capa­bil­i­ties to aid Pak­istan as the gov­ern­ment there works to com­bat floods that are affect­ing 14 mil­lion peo­ple.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates announced the Peleliu is off Pakistan’s port city of Karachi and will pro­vide air­lift assis­tance. Six Army heli­copters based in Afghanistan cur­rent­ly are pro­vid­ing air­lift help.

Gates said the Peleliu “can pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant­ly more” rotary wing sup­port. He also said the USS Kearsarge — anoth­er heli­copter land­ing ship — is head­ed to Pak­istan to relieve the Peleliu.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma asked the nation­al secu­ri­ty team to “lean for­ward” in pro­vid­ing aid to the strick­en nation, Gates said.

“The help we pro­vide will be at a pace and in a way deter­mined by the Pak­ista­nis,” Gates said. “We will be work­ing very close­ly with the Pak­istani mil­i­tary.”

The sec­re­tary said the Defense Depart­ment is work­ing to send in more capa­bil­i­ties. The Peleliu has the 15th Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit and 19 heli­copters aboard.

Defense offi­cials also will work close­ly with the U.S. Embassy in Islam­abad, the State Depart­ment and the U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Devel­op­ment to ham­mer out the logis­tics chain. “There’s no point in hav­ing a lot of heli­copters if there’s no sup­plies to deliv­er,” the sec­re­tary said.

Gates empha­sized that the Pak­ista­nis will gov­ern the speed of dis­tri­b­u­tion. “We want to be as help­ful as we can be,” he said. “We don’t want to over­stretch the capac­i­ty of the Pak­ista­nis to absorb the help.”

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

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