USA — Marines Support Pakistan Flood Relief Efforts

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2010 — The Marine Corps has respond­ed to the cri­sis in Pak­istan with troops, air­craft and a host of evac­u­a­tion sup­port, and relief sup­plies, the service’s com­man­dant said here today.

Marine Corps Gen. James T. Con­way recent­ly returned from a trip to Pak­istan and updat­ed reporters on the Marines’ relief efforts in the wake of mas­sive flood­ing there in a brief­ing at the Pen­ta­gon.

Since Aug. 12, 2,200 Marines from the 15th Marine Expe­di­tionary Unit have respond­ed to the cri­sis, he said. And, as of this morn­ing, eight Marine CH-46 and four CH-53 heli­copters deployed to Pak­istan have evac­u­at­ed 3,075 peo­ple and deliv­ered more than 650,000 pounds of car­go.

Mean­while, the 26th MEU from the East Coast is sail­ing ear­ly to con­tribute to the dis­as­ter relief, Con­way said, and the unit should arrive off the Pak­istani coast by mid to late Sep­tem­ber.

The MEUs are the the­ater reserve for the the­ater com­man­der, Con­way explained. Their deploy­ment strips the com­man­der of some capa­bil­i­ty to respond else­where in the the­ater, he added, but not­ed that Marines serv­ing in south­ern Afghanistan’s Hel­mand province aren’t affect­ed.

“We aren’t rely­ing upon any of the MEU capac­i­ty in Hel­mand province to be able to con­tin­ue our func­tions there,” he said.

The floods, how­ev­er, are hav­ing an impact on Pakistan’s secu­ri­ty. “The Pak­istani lead­er­ship is con­sumed with respond­ing to the after­math of the flood dis­as­ter,” Con­way said. Pak­istan Gen. Ash­faq Kayani, chief of army staff, “cau­tioned me that the involve­ment of his army in the flood relief will, for a time, detract from their efforts to secure the Pak­istani fron­tier.”

To date, the U.S. mil­i­tary has deliv­ered 1.5 mil­lion pounds of relief sup­plies and food, and heli­copters have res­cued or trans­port­ed about 6,500 peo­ple.

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

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