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USS Mount Whitney Concludes DoD’s Role in Georgia Aid

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2008 – With the off-loading of 17 tons of humanitarian supplies from the USS Mount Whitney over the weekend, the Defense Department’s part in providing relief to Georgia is over, Pentagon officials said here today.

The Mount Whitney – the flagship of the U.S. fleet in the Mediterranean – delivered the supplies to the Georgian port of Poti over the weekend. The USS McFaul and Coast Guard Cutter Dallas had previously delivered supplies to the port of Batumi.

DoD delivered 1,145 short tons of relief to Tbilisi via 62 air sorties since Russia invaded the Caucasus republic in early August. Russia also has recognized the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and still maintains troops in Georgia. “Russia is still not in compliance with the cease-fire agreement,” Pentagon officials said.

DoD personnel delivered only humanitarian supplies to Georgia. Servicemembers delivered cots, tents, bedding, medical supplies, humanitarian daily rations, water and other relief supplies to help Georgia recover from the invasion. The message behind this aid was “that the United States was going to come to the aid of a close ally in this time of need,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

The end of the DoD humanitarian mission does not mean the U.S. government efforts end. “The [U.S. Agency for International Development] efforts will now continue as they look at what needs need to be fulfilled in the mid-term to longer term,” Whitman said.

The next step for DoD personnel will be down the road when a security assessment team will go into the country to “take a look at what their needs might be with respect to that,” Whitman said. “It’s still premature to get in to any of that at this point.”

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