Mattis: U.S. Will Stand By Pakistan During Crisis
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 12, 2010 "As we did during the tragedy of the 2005 earthquake, we continue to stand by the Pakistani people during this crisis," Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, the new U.S. Central Command commander, said today of the humanitarian relief effort under way Pakistan.
“Pakistan is our friend and ally, and in their time of need, we are committed to partnering with their government and military to support their efforts to bring relief to the millions of Pakistanis impacted by these floods,” said Mattis, who assumed command of Centcom yesterday.
The first of nine helicopters Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ordered to Pakistan arrived today to support provide humanitarian assistance in the wake of deadly flooding, U.S. embassy officials in Islamabad reported.
Two Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit launched earlier today from the flight deck of the Navy amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu in international waters in the Arabian Sea.
The remaining aircraft, expected to arrive over the next few days, will include three Navy MH-53E Sea Dragons, four Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallions and 12 Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, embassy officials said.
The U.S. helicopters will operate in partnership with the Pakistan military throughout the country's flood-affected areas.
The 19 aircraft will relieve six U.S. Army helicopters already in Pakistan that will soon return to duty in Afghanistan. Despite bad weather, the six helicopters have rescued more than 3,089 people and transported more than 322,340 pounds of emergency relief supplies since Aug. 5, officials reported.
Yesterday, U.S. military helicopters evacuated 761 people from Bahrain and transported them to Khwalzakhela and delivered 108,000 pounds of humanitarian assistance supplies to Kalam, officials said.
On Aug. 10, 12 U.S. military sorties evacuated 939 people and delivered 91,600 pounds of humanitarian assistance supplies.
Also on Aug. 10, four Navy helicopters assigned to conduct relief missions in Multan flew a combined total of 22.8 hours and delivered 14,500 pounds of rations and supplies.
In addition, seven U.S. helicopters assigned to the Pakistani interior ministry’s 50th Squadron rescued 1,005 people, airlifted 71,973 pounds of supplies as of Aug. 11 while conducting other support missions, officials said.
The military response is just one part of a broad U.S. effort to assist Pakistan, including pledges of $71 million in assistance.