U.S. Troops Stand Ready for Bangladesh Cyclone Relief
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2007 If asked, American troops stand ready to help the victims of Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, Pentagon officials said today.
The cyclone struck Bangladesh Nov. 15. More than 3,100 people are known dead, and possibly thousands more are missing in the densely populated South Asian nation.
Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered his condolences to the people of Bangladesh. “The United States military is assisting with some medical teams on the ground and is ready to assist further with a couple of Navy ships, should they be required,” he said. “They are headed in that direction.”
As of now, Bangladesh has not requested U.S. Defense Department support, Pentagon officials said.
To be prepared to respond, the department is moving select naval assets in the direction of Bangladesh. The USS Kearsarge, with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked, and USS Essex, with the 31st MEU, have been identified as potential naval assets that could provide assistance if it’s requested.
The ships’ extensive medical facilities and berthing capabilities enable them to provide effective care to returning troops under battle conditions, or for disaster relief in support of humanitarian missions during peacetime. The ships can support up to 600 patients while still providing routine care to crewmembers and embarked troops.
Major medical facilities include four main and two emergency operating rooms, four dental operating rooms, X-ray facilities, a blood bank, laboratories and intensive-care ward facilities.
An 18-person Defense Department medical team from U.S. Pacific Command was in Bangladesh conducting military-to-military training and is available to assist as needed. Medical supplies and a mobile clinic have been transported from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to Thailand in preparation. The clinic can support 500 patients a day for 30 days.
A 23-person Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team has deployed to Bangladesh to coordinate with the U.S. Embassy country team and relief agencies to identify key areas, scope and duration of military support if requested by Bangladesh. The team came from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa, Japan. The team is led by Marine Brig. Gen. Ronald Bailey.