U.S. Continues to Aid Flood-Stricken Pakistanis

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2010 — Even as flood­wa­ters begin to recede in Pak­istan, the Unit­ed States is con­tin­u­ing to rush assets there to aid the mil­lions of peo­ple impact­ed by the dev­as­tat­ing floods.

Two U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk heli­copters arrived in Pak­istan today as the first ele­ments of the Army’s 16th Com­bat Avi­a­tion Brigade began to arrive from Fort Wain­wright, Alas­ka. The unit and heli­copters will work in con­cert with the Pak­istani mil­i­tary in flood-rav­aged areas, offi­cials said.

The heli­copters were deliv­ered by an Air Force C‑17 car­go air­craft that’s on stand­by pend­ing the arrival of oth­er heli­copters and sup­port per­son­nel, offi­cials said.

Along with the 16th CAB heli­copters, 15 oth­er U.S. mil­i­tary heli­copters are now in Pak­istan pro­vid­ing sup­port. Anoth­er four Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stal­lion heli­copters, from the 26th Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit, are sched­uled to arrive lat­er this week, offi­cials said.

To date, U.S. mil­i­tary air­craft have trans­port­ed more than 3 mil­lion pounds of relief sup­plies and res­cued more than 11,000 peo­ple with­in Pak­istan, said Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Ryder, pub­lic affairs offi­cer for the Office of the Defense Rep­re­sen­ta­tive-Pak­istan.

“In part­ner­ship with the Pak­istani mil­i­tary, the U.S. mil­i­tary has pro­vid­ed a unique capa­bil­i­ty to rapid­ly deliv­er much need­ed aid and human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance in sup­port of flood relief,” Ryder said.

The Unit­ed States also is assist­ing in efforts to improve coor­di­na­tion between Pak­istani, U.S. and inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions. Sev­er­al orga­ni­za­tions, both mil­i­tary and civil­ian, formed a joint avi­a­tion coor­di­na­tion cell Aug. 28 to stream­line air oper­a­tions sup­port­ing flood-relief efforts.

The Pak­istani-led cell con­sol­i­dates air oper­a­tions efforts and clos­es a com­mu­ni­ca­tion gap between relief providers and orga­ni­za­tions, offi­cials said.

“Until we formed this coor­di­na­tion cell, the [var­i­ous enti­ties] weren’t able to merge togeth­er and bring that require­ments and com­modi­ties pic­ture to an orga­nized air flow capa­bil­i­ty,” said Air Force Col. Greg Nel­son, direc­tor of U.S. mobil­i­ty forces for human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance to Pak­istan, based out of Chak­lala, Pak­istan.

The cell will increase the air deliv­ery effi­cien­cy across the coun­try, he said. “It’s all in sup­port of the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan through the [Nation­al Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Author­i­ty of Pak­istan], and this cell puts the whole thing togeth­er.”

The first meet­ing of the JACC in Chak­lala, Rawalpin­di, brought togeth­er rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the NDMA, the Pak­istan army and air force, the UN Logis­tics Clus­ter, the World Food Pro­gram and the Unit­ed States. Par­tic­i­pants dis­cussed food and sup­plies, and the require­ments and trans­porta­tion needs of the coun­try, as well as how to work togeth­er to bet­ter accom­mo­date the dona­tions, air assets and col­lab­o­ra­tors, offi­cials said.

“It’s crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant for the flow of infor­ma­tion so that all orga­ni­za­tions … are led by the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment, by the Nation­al Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Author­i­ty,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Eliot Evans, of the Office of the Defense Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pak­istan.

The JACC also offers offi­cials an oppor­tu­ni­ty to look ahead. Until the JACC was estab­lished, the air cell was plan­ning deliv­ery require­ments for the next 24 hours, Nel­son said. “Now we’re start­ing to look at a week out.”

These efforts are part of over­all efforts by the Unit­ed States to assist Pak­istan with the flood­ing dis­as­ter. The U.S. gov­ern­ment is pro­vid­ing $200 mil­lion to assist with relief and recov­ery efforts, as well as in-kind and tech­ni­cal assis­tance in the form of halal, or reli­gious­ly per­mit­ted, meals, pre-fab­ri­cat­ed steel bridges and oth­er infra­struc­ture sup­port. Offi­cials esti­mate that between 15 mil­lion and 20 mil­lion Pak­ista­nis have been impact­ed by the flood­ing and about 1,500 have been killed.

U.S. offi­cials have pledged their sup­port for as long as the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment needs, and requests, the help.

“We’re very glad to be able to assist our Pak­istani friends dur­ing their time of need,” Ryder said. “We will con­tin­ue to sup­port Pakistan’s relief efforts at the invi­ta­tion and request of the gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan as long as they need us.”

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

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