Maj. Gen. Allyn discusses role of U.S. forces in Haiti
February 2, 2010
Maj. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, Joint Task Force Haiti and XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C., deputy commanding general, talked about the U.S. military's role in Haiti at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince Feb. 1.
"The primary role of the U.S. military," said Allyn, "is to deliver lifesaving, life-sustaining aid to the victims of the earthquake, and to assist in establishing the conditions for essential services to be restored, to focus on delivering critical medical assistance to pre-earthquake levels and to ensure that there is a distribution system in place to bring shelter food and water to the people of Haiti in a way that sustains their needs while we are here and after we are gone with systems that are sufficient to the task. In order for us to get to that point, we are partnering with non-governmental organizations, the United Nations, and the Government of Haiti to ensure that the capabilities that are need are in place to continue to deliver the needs to the people."
"We are principally here to provide humanitarian assistance, he said. 'Security is an inherent need in delivery of humanitarian assistance, the United Nations is very capably, the lead force security here, they've done a superb job, they respond aggressively and agilely when reaction forces are needed to groups of citizens that maybe come unruly at different points in time."
"I think overall that we all feel that we are making progress in Haiti, said Allyn, "each day is better than the day before."
"We can't go fast enough," he said, "while we recognize that progress is being made, we are reaching more people, we are feeding families for two weeks at a time now, rather than just surviving a day at a time"
Allyn said the military is identifying the longer term needs of the people and the Government of Haiti
"Over 16 buildings that belonged to the Government of Haiti were destroyed by the earthquake," Allyn said. "We have been trying to identify alternate facilities that the Government of Haiti can use to restore its governmental capacity."
When asked about the military's goals in the long run, Allyn said, "We've been going around to critical infrastructure sites like hospitals, telecommunications, power substations and providing expertise necessary to assess both the immediate damage and the long term improvement that needs to be done to restore the essential capacity of the government to govern for the people."
"We intend to ensure that there is a solid plan that the government is comfortable with," he said, "and then we will assist in helping to identify the right capability to meet the needs for the people and the Government of Haiti."
"The desire to get supplies immediately to the people in need which is the overall purpose that we are trying to achieve is something that is shared by everybody involved here," Allyn said. "There is no confusion about why we are here and what we are trying to do."
When asked about supply and demand issues, Allyn replied, "You are going to have friction as you have a high priority need to be met, but we work through that very effectively and I think the people of Haiti feel the effects that are being delivered by the united front of the non-governmental organizations, United Nations, USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and the Department of Defense as a supporting and enabling arm for this effort.
"I was at a food distribution point yesterday and there certainly was no disappointment in the NGO that was supporting it, and USAID, certainly the people of Haiti were appreciative of what was being delivered on their behalf," he said.
"We are in the production business," Allyn said. "We've been producing capability on behalf of the people of Haiti since we arrived and we will continue to do so as long as that need is there and as long as we can help to deliver the capability that is needed.
"The desire to help the people of Haiti, to deliver emergency supplies and capability, is something we know we can do, he said. "We know we have the logistics infrastructure, we have the reach, and we deliver that in support of the U.S. government agencies and the U.N. agencies here very effectively for the people of Haiti."
When asked about how he feels about helping the Haitian people, he said, "I think I share the sentiments of every American and every member of the international community, that is, to deliver what is needed to the people of Haiti by the most expeditious means we can."
Allyn said, "When you see American soldiers assisting people to provide the supplies that they need to survive and to live and to thrive, you can't help but to feel good about the compassion with which they are delivering the emergency aid, the commitment they have to do it as fast as humanly possible and the cooperation that is going on between the non-governmental organizations, the U.S. government agencies and the United Nations. This is truly is an international effort with the sole purpose of helping the people of Haiti," he said.
"We are here to get the job done, and we are here until they tell us our services are no longer needed," said Allyn.