82nd Airborne expands relief in Haiti as Navy, Marines arrive
January 19, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 19, 2010) -- As 82nd Airborne Division troops expanded their relief efforts in Haiti today, Navy and Marine pilots conducted reconnaissance and assessment flights over Port-au-Prince to determine how best to focus added forces that arrived Monday.
The USS Gunston Hall, ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and embarked elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived off the coast of Haiti Monday to help provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief for earthquake survivors.
Meanwhile, the 82nd troops Monday at their forward operating base in Port-au-Prince doubled the amount of food and water handed out the day before -- more than 15,000 bottles of water and 4,000 meals.
Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment lined the hill at the FOB carrying cases of water and meals from the landing zone down to the distribution point. The squadron had set up its FOB at an abandoned and damaged country club near the U.S. embassy, not far from a camp of thousands of earthquake survivors.
As of Monday, U.S. troops had distributed 400,000 bottles of water, 300,000 rations and 12,000 pounds of medical supplies as part of "Operation Unified Response."
About 1,400 servicemembers were on the ground in Haiti as of Monday with about another 5,000 afloat on ships offshore, according to Army Lt. Gen. P.K. "Ken" Keen, commander of Joint Task Force Haiti. He estimated his force will grow over the coming weeks to about 4,000 to 5,000 on Haiti and another 5,000 offshore supporting the relief operation.
Among military resources moving toward Haiti now is the hospital ship USNS Comfort, with 600 medical personnel onboard. The 1,000-bed hospital ship has fully-equipped operating rooms, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT-scan and two oxygen-producing plants.
Current U.S. military efforts are focused on working with the U.N.
Stabilization Mission in Haiti, the international community and local responders to provide search and rescue, distribute aid and assess damage to key infrastructure.
To help alleviate the immediate need for water, U.S. military assets are giving the highest priority to the shipment of donated water to Haiti. Two reverse osmosis purification units, known as ROPUs, are in Haiti to make water and four additional units are aboard the U.S. Navy amphibious ship USS Bataan that arrived Monday.
Operation Unified Response is part of a larger U.S. response to a request from the government of Haiti for humanitarian aid. U.S. Southern Command is working closely with the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development and the international community to aggressively provide life-sustaining services to the people of Haiti, SOUTHCOM officials said.
(A report from Fred Baker of the American Forces Press Service contributed to this article along with news releases from the U.S. Southern Command.)