Pacific Command Creates Joint Task Force for Philippines Relief
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2013 U.S. Pacific Command has established a joint task force to coordinate the Defense Department’s relief efforts in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington move a pallet of drinking water across the flight deck in support of Operation Damayan in the Leyte Gulf, Philippines, Nov. 15, 2013. The George Washington Strike Group is supporting the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in the humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Paolo Bayas
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Joint Task Force 505 is commanded by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler, who is moving to the Philippines from his base in Okinawa, Japan. He will command all U.S. military disaster relief efforts in the region.
Thousands of people were killed in the area hit by the typhoon. Philippine officials are still sorting out the chaos caused by the storm, which packed winds exceeding 150 mph. Some islands in the Philippine archipelago in the path of the typhoon have not yet been landed upon to check for damage, Philippine officials said in news reports.
Wissler will report directly to Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, Pacom’s commander.
The designation of the effort in the Philippines as a joint task force will make it easier for DOD to move appropriate assets into the region to support relief efforts as quickly as possible and aid in expediting personnel, equipment and asset requests, officials said. The American effort is led by the U.S. Agency for International Development in support of Philippine government needs.
American troops already are on the ground in the affected area. More than 400 service members are in Tacloban and at Clark International Airport.
The priorities are potable water, food, shelter and medical care, Philippine officials said. Ground transportation is limited, and helicopters from the recently arrived aircraft carrier USS George Washington, as well as Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys, have been getting supplies around the region.
The first Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport jet landed at Tacloban airfield and delivered water production capabilities to the Philippine armed forces. About 800 more U.S. Marines will arrive in the area next week.
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