By Cpl. Brandon Babbitt, 203rd PADMay 18, 2010
KULOB, Tajikistan (May 17, 2010) -- Third Army Soldiers responded over the weekend to a request for assistance from the government of Tajikistan, due to flooding there which has killed at least 22 people, left 50 missing, injured 200 and displaced more than 2,000 from their homes.
Within four hours of receiving notification May 16, a Third Army mission left Kuwait and delivered supplies via a C-17 Globemaster on an airfield near the city of Kulob, located in the southern part of Tajikistan.
Members of the Tajikistan government and military met Third Army Soldiers at the airfield. There, they all joined together while removing pallets full of tents from the plane onto trucks waiting to deliver them to those areas hit hardest by the flooding.
This weekend's assistance consisted of a plane-load of tents, valued at more than $250,000. The tents will be used to help shelter the displaced citizens of Tajikistan affected by the floods.
"We are amazed with the kind gesture of supplies from the U.S. Army after this horrible natural disaster," said Gen. Khaibullo Latipov, chairman of the Emergency Committee of Tajikistan.
"It is good to know that we have a friend we can count on in this region when the unpredictable happens," Latipov said.
The Third Army mission was led by Col. Michael Keller, commander, 321st Civil Affairs Brigade, Civil Military Operations Center, with the help of members of the 21st Airlift Squadron from Travis Air Force Base, Calif.
"Today's mission brought together an inspiring joint-service effort," said Keller. "It is our privilege to help our partner and friend, the people of Tajikistan, in their hour of need."
Even though missions in Afghanistan and Iraq lay at the forefront of the Third Army focus, officials said the command stands ready to respond to contingency operations in the region and the needs of its partner nations.
Tajikistan is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia and part of Central Command's Area of Responsibility. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to its west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and the People's Republic of China to the east.
Flooding in Tajikistan is seasonal and something the people there deal with every year; however, this year's flooding exceeded the government of Tajikistan's ability to respond, prompting them to seek international help. Sunday's aid delivery was just part of the U.S. response to Tajikistan's appeal for help, officials said.
Third Army's humanitarian aid is intended to provides the people of Tajikistan emergency shelter while they take on the mission of rebuilding their homes after the devastating floods.
Spc. Saliyev Djamoliddin, a Tajikistan-born Third Army Soldier who assisted the operation by providing linguist support, said it felt good to come home to his native country and make a difference.
This was an opportunity for Third Army to demonstrate its commitment to Tajikistan as it continues to build upon relationships with its partners in the region, command officials said.
(Cpl. Brandon Babbitt serves with the 203rd Public Affairs Detachment.)