Air Reserve Base Proves Vital in Transporting Relief to Haiti
By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2010 Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida is playing a vital role in moving essential medical supplies, equipment and military support to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Homestead is important to the Haiti earthquake relief effort because of its strategic location, Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr. told bloggers and online journalists during a “DoDLive” bloggers roundtable yesterday.
“Reserve aircrews have flown 57 missions in support of Operation Unified Response, and the pace of activity is very likely to increase in the weeks and days to come,” Stenner said. “The Reserve aircraft are transporting people, supplies and equipment to staging areas and into the country of Haiti, and they’re bringing American citizens home, as well.”
Air Force Reserve assets have delivered an estimated 650,000 pounds of cargo and 137 pallets, the general said, and have brought 1,600 American citizens back to the United States.
“We have a 920th Rescue Wing helicopter crew that’s standing by if necessary,” he said.
When a natural disaster or emergency situation occurs, like in Haiti, Stenner said, “it’s very easy to react quickly from that site. I think we anticipate a significant and continuing role for Homestead Air Reserve Base as the mission evolves.”
The base, the general said, has been serving as a secondary aerial port of embarkation. Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., is serving as the primary.
More than 580 airmen – from regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve -- are playing an important part in the joint efforts in Haiti.
The biggest readiness challenges currently facing the Air Force Reserve are sustaining and maintaining the tempo while providing support to both Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, Stenner said.
“The tempo does require our folks to deploy on a frequent, sustained and predictable basis,” he said. “We are, in fact, part of that three-component Air Force, and ready and able to do that.”
Stenner added that history has proven that when these types of natural disasters occur, the United States will respond with help regardless of where disaster occurs.
“When you look at the kinds of things that have happened with the recent hurricanes, when you look at the relief efforts in the Caribbean that have happened over the last decade or so, our folks know and call immediately to put their name on a list,” he said.
(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg is assigned to Defense Media Activity’s Emerging Media Directorate.)