FORT KNOX, Ky. — Since becoming fully operationally capable in 2021, V Corps’ mission has been to assure our allies and partners, while deterring potential adversaries. Assurance is built on many different actions, with trust being the foundation.
V Corps has built trust by showing up, training and providing support to our allies and partners during increased threats to NATO and the European theater. However, its mission is never solely deterrence or warfighting. It’s celebrating our partners and their accomplishments; it’s building relationships that strengthen partnerships; it’s learning from each other to build adaptable, capable forces; and it’s providing aid and assistance when asked.
On Feb. 6, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the border region between Türkiye and Syria, followed by up to 183 aftershock earthquakes, including one registering a 7.6 magnitude. These quakes caused an overwhelming amount of destruction with the death toll rising to over 47,000 people and many more injured.
In the wake of the natural disaster, the government of Türkiye requested assistance from the United States Agency for International Development. In coordination with USAID, the U.S. military worked in coordination with the Turkish government and its allies and partners to provide relief to the people of Türkiye.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet, under the direction of U.S. European Command, led the U.S. military response and requested V Corps provide air support to move people, supplies and to provide medical evacuation.
“We are proud that we were able to rapidly respond to this natural disaster and do our small part in supporting USAID, the U.S. Embassy, and Turkish Citizens,” said Lt. Gen. John S. Kolasheski, V Corps commanding general. “It’s a true testament to the value of our training that we were able to respond so quickly.”
V Corps sent 15 aircraft from the 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade and 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, and Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division to support U.S. Sixth Fleet’s Task Force 61/2. In 21 days, they completed over 29 missions, flew over 284 hours and moved 573,250 lbs. of equipment, which included diapers, hygiene sets, heavy duty plastic sheets for temporary shelters and much more.
“What we’ve accomplished by way of support to the Turkish people in the last 21 days has proven our resolve to our Allies,” said Col. John A. Morris III, Commander, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade. “This brigade came prepared, exceeded expectations, and ultimately reassured our commitment to remain stronger together.”
V Corps’ role in supplying aid to Türkiye, and in all humanitarian assistance disaster response situations, is to provide USAID and U.S. embassies critical capabilities as quickly as possible to help save lives and demonstrate U.S. commitment to allies and partners through all means available.
“Humanitarian assistance disaster response is a mission the U.S. military has a unique capacity to fulfill, responding quickly to increase or augment civilian emergency response upon critical need,” said Col. James Hite, V Corps’ assistant chief of staff for current operations. “Military helicopters have a huge advantage in reacting rapidly to changing environments due to the intended military applications. Use in this mission showed the flexibility and responsiveness of our forces to assist people, not just project U.S. combat power.”
V Corps ensures that the aid is provided by coordinating and making sure the units have what they need in order to fulfill their missions.
“Getting all the things aligned to execute this mission in such a short timeline and getting coordination through the Department of State to conduct life-saving actions to support the people of Türkiye was completely satisfying,” said Hite. “Knowing that the U.S. military can turn on a dime to not only protect ourselves but provide critical aid to those in need is awesome.”
While the Soldiers worked tirelessly to provide aid to the Turkish people as they grieved the loss of human life caused by the earthquake, they found solace knowing they were providing even a smidgen of help.
“It was incredibly gratifying,” said Capt. Kaleb Dahl, commander of Bravo “Big Windy” Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. “It was one of the most gratifying missions that I've ever been a part of. This was a great opportunity to take everything that we trained for and use it towards a real mission, going to help.”
Dahl continued, “I say it was gratifying, but at the same time it was heartbreaking, too. You're happy that you're able to provide relief to these people but at the same time, it's incredibly sad to see these displaced people with their homes and livelihoods destroyed. So it was a lot of mixed emotions. But overall, we're incredibly proud to be part of that effort.”
In times of both crisis and conflict, V Corps stands ready to support its allies and partners to deliver support simultaneously across all time horizons based on its integrated crisis-action planning and ability to address the full spectrum of needs — before, during and after crises and conflicts.
As America's forward deployed corps, V Corps works alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces; executes joint, bilateral and multinational training exercises; and provides command and control for rotational and assigned units in the European theater while building local community relationships.