WASHINGTON, April 5, 2011 — The U.S. military demonstrated its global reach and effectiveness in the past month of crises, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.
The U.S. military is probably the only organization in the world that could have handled the demands of providing assistance to the people of Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami while also preventing a massacre in Benghazi, Libya.
The earthquake struck off Japan’s northern coast on March 11. The tsunami followed soon after. “From the moment the earthquake struck … American military forces were ready to respond with whatever assistance was needed by Japan, our close friend and stalwart ally,” Morrell told reporters at the Pentagon.
So far, more than 20,000 U.S. military personnel, about 140 aircraft and more than 20 U.S. ships have provided humanitarian assistance, and supported disaster relief and consequence management efforts in Japan.
A week later, U.S. service members joined an international coalition to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Libya that could have destabilized nascent democratic movements in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia. Operation Odyssey Dawn began with an American-led strike on Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi’s military, designed to prevent him from killing large numbers of Libyan civilians in Benghazi and sparking a refugee crisis.
“All told, since operations began on March the 19th, the U.S. has flown approximately 1,600 sorties, which includes more than 600 strike missions,” Morrell said of U.S. military efforts in Libya. “The U.S. strike mission ended yesterday evening …, but we will continue flying support missions under NATO leadership, and we will remain on alert for emergency strike missions, if requested by NATO.”
Meanwhile, about 100,000 American troops are fighting a war against extremism in Afghanistan. Another 46,000 are deployed to Iraq, training Iraqi security forces.
“That we have been able to respond to these crises without missing a beat in either of those efforts is a testament to the strength and versatility of our forces and, most of all, to the men and women in uniform who are prepared to take on any mission assigned to them,” Morrell said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
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