SOUTHCOM Mobilizes To Support International Disaster Relief Efforts In Haiti
By Dialogo January 14, 2010U.S. military forces have mobilized to support international disaster relief efforts underway in Haiti following the Jan. 12 earthquake that ravaged the Caribbean nation. Current U.S. military efforts will focus on working with MUNUSTAH to provide search and rescue, disaster relief and security, if necessary. The SOUTHCOM assessment and command and control team arrived in Haiti and are currently working with U.S. embassy personnel as well as Haitian, United Nations and international officials to assess the situation and facilitate U.S. military support. USS Higgins is also now in Haiti and will support relief operations. Enroute to Haiti is the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, and is expected to arrive off the coast of Haiti Thursday. The ship has 19 helicopters aboard. The USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group is set to deploy to Haiti. This group includes USS Bataan, USS Fort McHenry, USS Carter Hall and the 2,200-person 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. Two additional ships, the USS Underwood and USS Normandy are also headed to help. The hospital ship USNS Comfort is also preparing to deploy. SOUTHCOM is closely monitoring the situation and is working with the U.S. State Department, United States Agency for International Development and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and other national and international agencies to determine how to best respond to this crisis. Meantime, the Pentagon appointed U.S. Southern Command Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Ken Keen to head the rapidly expanding U.S. military relief effort in Haiti, which is shaping up to be one of the biggest U.S. humanitarian missions in decades. Lt. Gen Keen, who is already in the Caribbean country, has been tapped to lead a new joint task force devoted to Haiti and will be charged with managing the half-dozen large ships and roughly 8,000 military personnel who will soon be in or near Haiti.