Latest Update from Pacific Command (Jan 7th)
The latest Pacific Command press conference on the tsunami relief effort, Operation Unified Assistance, has been released. Highlights:
GEN. BLACKMAN : We are at a point, I believe, where we are able now to see the top of the crisis curve. And so our priority here over the next, say, 96 hours is to determine what our sustained requirement will be for disaster relief in each of the three countries where we're focusing our effort. And each one of the countries day by day develops unique requirements that we are assessing in the best way to fulfill them in a sustained way, if you will, on the back side of that curve.More: 1. Insight into the order of battle of the US forces in each country. We mentioned the other day we'd love to see a wire diagram of the organization, so this is pretty good: " . . . And we overcame that by building what we call a starter kit of capability: a rotary-wing aircraft for distribution; water-making, water-production, storage and distribution capability; some general engineering capability to clear roads and facilitate the relief effort by the host nation or other agencies." 2. Considerations of sea-basing are driving the US concept of operations: " It can just -- the Mercy -- I believe that the Mercy was used, for example, after 9/11 in New York. Somebody here corrected me; it was the Comfort, very -- you know, the same class ship. The Comfort was berthed in New York and was used by relief workers as a sanctuary, if you will; where they could get a little bit of rest, a hot shower, a hot meal, and then get back to their duties. It can be uniquely loaded with a variety of supplies and capabilities. And I would also like to add that, as a ship, it allows us to sea base our medical capabilities. It allows us to not put a significant footprint and presence on the ground in, for example, northern Sumatra. There are great benefits associated with sea basing our medical capability." Note: The Marine Corps and Navy are using this opportunity to show their doctrine of sea-basing – and Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare as well. This is a great idea. Few other operating areas or situations represent such a textbook example of "Chaos in the Littorals," [this links to Chapter 1 Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 3, "Expeditionary Operations"] which is one way of describing the driving considerations behind the development of seabasing and expeditionary maneuver warfare. 3. Spontaneous, unorganized, (and note to the UN: uncoordinated too) efforts to assist US personnel have occurred: "We don't necessarily have to focus on pounds and gallons and numbers all the time. They had 14 Marines there today with shovels who were digging a trench on the beach to drain a four-kilometer-long stagnant pool of water that had been captured inland after the tsunami receded. In their efforts to drain that pool with hand shovels, they were joined by Sri Lankans who weighed in and helped them do that. And we have found that just manual labor type cleanup efforts of debris, where we have started those kinds of operations, we have had Sri Lankans in particular just join the effort and begin a teamwork- like effort to begin to recover from this disaster." 4. General Blackman is impressed by speed of strategic lift: " . . . after 34 and a half years wearing this Marine uniform, I have been extraordinarily impressed by the incredible speed with which we have moved capabilities into this region." 5. US relief effort to the Philippines in early December was an excellent dress rehearsal for a disaster like this: "If I can go back and just mention one thing, this kind of operation is not entirely unique. We -- 3MEF, it was Joint Task Force 535 -- conducted a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation in the Philippines here in the first couple of weeks of December. And certainly not anywhere near on the scale of the operation we're conducting right now, but we gained some -- we learned some very valuable lessons from that . . ."