Army Supports USAID Mission to the Congo
September 27, 2007
SECKENHEIM, Germany - The 3rd Battalion of the 405th Army Field Support Brigade is supporting a U.S. Agency for International Development mission to Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The assistance is in response to escalating tensions between Congolese government troops and former Congolese soldiers loyal to Gen. Laurent Nkunda. As of Sept. 7, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that more than 295,000 internally displaced people were located in the North Kivu Province of the Congo.
In response to the rapidly declining situation, USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance contacted the 3/405th AFSB, located at Camp Darby, Italy, and requested immediate support for the shipment of humanitarian supplies to the region. The 3/405th AFSB is responsible for the storage, maintenance and shipment of USAID humanitarian supplies under an interagency agreement between the U.S. State Department and the Army.
Alberto Chidini, 3/405th AFSB director of supply, calls the interagency agreement a natural partnership.
"We are experts in pre-positioned materiel management, and USAID needs the ability to react rapidly to crises," he said. "We apply our skills to their needs on a reimbursable basis, making this a mutually supportive arrangement."
The initial shipment of 200 rolls of plastic sheeting, as requested by USAID, was pulled from storage areas within the 3/405th AFSB and prepared for immediate shipment within 48 hours of the initial request. The plastic sheeting will be used to create temporary shelters.
These commodities are urgently needed in the DRC," said Gregory Gottlieb, USAID's Acting Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance. "USAID is sending about 22 cargo planes full of commodities to Goma in a 10-day period to assure that those in need are given assistance as quickly as possible."
The shipment follows the visit of the President of Tuscany, Claudio Martini, to Camp Darby. The Italian and the American commanders at Camp Darby invited President Martini to take a thorough tour of the base. In particular, they showed him the new logistical arrangements which have been created to accommodate Camp Darby's growing role as a storage and shipment facility for humanitarian aid.
The U.S. Government is providing assistance to 47 countries in Africa, and USAID currently has 23 bilateral missions in Africa. In addition, there are three regional missions that support activities in countries with a limited USAID presence.
(Jennifer King is assigned to the 405th U.S. Army Field Support Brigade Public Affairs Office)