Admiral Calls Haiti Relief Effort ‘Core Mission’
By Dialogo November 11, 2008The Navy admiral who commands U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and the U.S. 4th Fleet said during a visit to the USS Kearsarge that relief efforts, like the operation in Haiti, are a core mission for U.S. forces in U.S. Southern Command. Kearsarge was diverted from Santa Marta, Colombia, to assist the U.S. Agency for International Development in mitigating human suffering and loss of life in Haitian communities affected by tropical storms Fay, Gustav and Hanna and Hurricane Ike. Rear Adm. Joseph D. Kernan will review U.S. Naval relief efforts from Kearsarge and visit ship personnel supporting relief operations in Haiti. "Providing much-needed relief following a disaster of this scope is precisely why we´re here,” he said. “This is what SOUTHCOM, the Navy and 4th Fleet does -- it is one of our core missions. It is so important to work together with partner nations and U.S. governmental agencies like USAID to help the people in this region after a natural catastrophe like this." Kearsarge support to Haiti includes the movement of food, cargo and equipment between Port-au-Prince and Gonaives, Jeremie, Saint Marc, Port de Paix, Jacmel and Les Cayes. SOUTHCOM and 4th Fleet planners continue to work with interagency partners and their counterparts in countries affected by the recent devastating weather to assess recovery needs in the affected areas and identify additional U.S. military units that may be able to provide assistance. As SOUTHCOM's naval component command, NAVSO´s mission is to direct U.S. naval forces operating in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions and interact with partner-nation navies. Operations include counter-illicit trafficking, theater security cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training. Re-established on July 12, 4th Fleet is the numbered fleet assigned to NAVSO, exercising operational control of naval assets supporting operations in the Caribbean, Central and South America.