Pentagon Monitors Thailand Flood Situation

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2011 — Defense offi­cials are care­ful­ly mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Thai­land as that nation faces the worst flood­ing it’s had in more than 50 years.

Recent flood­ing across Thai­land has killed more than 360 peo­ple, and more than 2.5 mil­lion peo­ple have been affect­ed, Thai gov­ern­ment offi­cials said.

Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta, who is trav­el­ing in Asia, has expressed seri­ous con­cern about the dis­as­ter, said Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle, who is with Panetta’s trav­el­ing par­ty.

The defense sec­re­tary “offers his deep­est con­do­lences to all those who have suf­fered as a result,” Lit­tle said in a writ­ten state­ment. “The sec­re­tary is close­ly mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion, and applauds the Thai government’s quick response to this major nat­ur­al dis­as­ter. Thai­land is a close ally, and we will con­tin­ue to work with Thai offi­cials to assess what they may need in the form of assis­tance from the Unit­ed States.”

When the flood­ing start­ed, U.S. Pacif­ic Com­mand ordered the George Wash­ing­ton Car­ri­er Strike Group, which was con­duct­ing a port vis­it to Sin­ga­pore, to get under­way ear­li­er than sched­uled to pre-posi­tion in case assis­tance was required. The com­mand sent a 10-Marine human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance sur­vey team from Oki­nawa, Japan, to Bangkok, Thai­land, to assess the sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try.

After meet­ing with Thai offi­cials, the team deter­mined that U.S. mil­i­tary assis­tance was not need­ed.

“The Thai gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary have led a tremen­dous effort to pro­tect and help its cit­i­zens dur­ing the recent flood­ing,” Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said.

The Navy ships have been released to par­tic­i­pate in a pre­vi­ous­ly sched­uled annu­al exer­cise with the Japan Mar­itime Self Defense Force, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said. The destroy­er USS Mustin now plans a pre­vi­ous­ly unsched­uled port vis­it to Laem Cha­bang, Thai­land, to con­duct com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice events and mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary engage­ments.

Pacif­ic Com­mand offi­cials are work­ing with the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok to deter­mine if U.S. mil­i­tary assets are need­ed to sup­port the Thais.

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