U.S. Pacific Command is sending a forward command element (FCE) to Utapao, Thailand, to establish the command, control and communication structure for Joint Task Force 536 (JTF 536).
Thailand's decision to allow use of this Thai military facility is welcomed. The U.S. intends to use, with Thailand's cooperation, this military facility as a regional support center for emergency and medical personnel providing assistance throughout the region as well as a staging area for U.S. military and rescue aircraft, forensic experts, and other relief assistance.
The FCE and follow-on JTF will coordinate U.S. military relief efforts in the region. The FCE and JTF will work with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, host nations and humanitarian relief agencies to identify requirements and coordinate relief efforts.
The focus of the mission will be to prevent further loss of life and human suffering by expeditiously applying resources to the overall relief effort. The FCE team is comprised mainly of personnel from the III Marine Expeditionary Force. Additional personnel will be deployed from other locations in the Pacific command area of responsibility.
U.S. military relief efforts include:
U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo aircraft in Yokota, Japan, loaded with relief supplies are expected to deploy to Utapao, Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand.
U.S. Navy deployed P-3 aircraft from Kadena, Japan, to operate in the vicinity of Thailand with Utapao, Royal Thai Air Force Base, serving as a hub for operations.
Other forces enroute to the region that could be committed to relief efforts, if necessary, include USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, including USS Shoup, USS Shiloh, USS Benfold, and USNS Ranier and USS Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, including USS Duluth, USS Milius, USS Rushmore, USS Thach, USS Pasadena and USCG Munro.
U.S. military exercises often include training for humanitarian assistance. This humanitarian assistance training helps ensure the U.S. military is able to rapidly respond as directed to support relief efforts.
The Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command will continue to review resources available and direct forces as necessary to provide authorized humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to affected nations in the region.