The task force is led by U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Keith Davids, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH). USAID requested the unique capabilities of the U.S. Department of Defense, and the task force has been deployed in support of USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team.
In preparation for that mission, a 14-person SOUTHCOM Situational Awareness Team (SSAT) from SOCSOUTH arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Aug. 15, where they will support U.S. government disaster-assistance personnel assessing the situation in areas impacted by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake Aug. 14.
A U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft transported the SSAT team from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla.
The team’s assessments will be used by SOUTHCOM mission planners to identify U.S. military capabilities needed and available to support U.S. foreign disaster assistance led by USAID/BHA and requested by the government of Haiti.
Additionally, the U.S. Navy is providing aerial images to support damage assessments.
The earthquake and resulting landslides have significantly damaged major roads and bridges. Two UH-60 and three CH-47 helicopters from Joint Task Force-Bravo are also en route to Haiti, where they will provide critical airlift support to ongoing relief efforts.
The U.S. military relief mission will join ongoing U.S. Coast Guard support operations in the Caribbean country.
SOUTHCOM remains in very close contact with its chain of command, the U.S. State Department, and USAID, the lead federal agency for U.S. foreign disaster assistance, and ready to provide additional support, if asked.
Historically, U.S. military capabilities are needed most in the critical early stages of a disaster relief operation, when fewer resources, capabilities and disaster-response experts are available to help victims and impacted communities. As those disaster-relief missions progress and more experienced experts arrive to aid longer-term recovery and reconstruction, U.S. military capabilities are no longer requested, and roles previously performed by military units and troops are assumed by other, more experienced relief organizations.
SOUTHCOM has supported USAID/BHA-led disaster relief missions in Haiti in the aftermath of previous disasters, most recently in 2016, after the nation was struck by Hurricane Matthew.
SOUTHCOM has also assisted Haiti in preparing for natural disasters with the construction of emergency operations centers, disaster relief warehouses, fire stations and community centers that double as shelters. The command has also previously donated search and rescue boats, as well as transport vehicles to Haitian emergency response and civil protection agencies.
- For the latest updates on U.S. military support to U.S. foreign disaster assistance to Haiti: https://www.southcom.mil/HaitiEarthquakeSupport/
- For videos and photos of U.S. military support to U.S. foreign disaster assistance to Haiti: https://www.dvidshub.net/search/?q=haiti+earthquake&view=grid&sort=publishdate
- Biography, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Keith Davids: https://www.socom.mil/socsouth/Pages/Leadership.aspx
- U.S. Navy ScanEagle Unmanned Air System fact sheet: https://www.navy.mil/Resources/Fact-Files/Display-FactFiles/Article/2160330/close-range-uas/
- U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon multi-mission maritime aircraft fact sheet: https://www.navy.mil/Resources/Fact-Files/Display-FactFiles/Article/2166300/p-8a-poseidon-multi-mission-maritime-aircraft-mma/
- SOUTHCOM support to previous disasters in the region: https://www.southcom.mil/Lines-of-Effort/Strengthen-Partnerships/Foreign-Disaster-Relief/
For more information on Haiti click here.
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