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Pacific Command Aids Earthquake Recovery Efforts in Nepal

May 7, 2015 | BY Amaani Lyle

U.S. Pacific Command is helping Nepal and its people to recover following the April 25 magnitude 7.8 earthquake that claimed more than 7,500 lives and caused at least twice as many injuries, the command’s deputy commander said.

The command is providing round-the-clock recovery and disaster relief assistance to the Nepalese government, Army Lt. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield told DoD News during a May 5 interview at Pacom’s headquarters here.

“[Pacom] brings very unique joint capabilities to help around the world, particularly in the Asia-Pacific [region] and most notably to help in reducing the suffering that has taken place from this tragic event,” Crutchfield said.

Assisting the Nepalese Government

Ongoing efforts include assisting the Nepalese government in gauging the numbers of dead, injured and missing, and providing aid to survivors, Crutchfield said. The effort, he added, also includes searching remote and difficult-to-access regions where much of the devastation took place.

The general highlighted Pacom’s collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the DoD, and the government of Nepal.

“That, in itself, is a success,” Crutchfield said.

Pacom routinely operates, trains and exchanges information with partner nations in the region, the general said.

By coincidence, Pacom has in the past conducted realistic earthquake recovery and relief exercises with Nepal, Crutchfield noted.

“You hate to plan for the worst, but in this case planning for the worst has helped us to be in a better position to help,” the general said. “You have to train together, share information … there has been a great deal of energy spent on talking about earthquakes because this is an earthquake-prone area.”

Humanitarian, Disaster Relief Training

Pacom’s humanitarian and disaster relief training ranges from planning to joint- or coalition-level operational training focused on response, he said.

“This is part of our joint force plan to work with countries such as Nepal,” Crutchfield said. “We’re not going to stop because this terrible disaster happened. We will continue to work together to ensure that if any future disasters happen we’d be ready to respond and be well-trained.”

Lessons can be both positive and negative, said Crutchfield, citing the value of working with countries ahead of time.

“It’s really tragic that a scenario we used for training purposes actually turned out to be such a devastating loss of life and my condolences go out to the people of Nepal,” the general said. “The U.S. joint forces of Pacific Command stand ready to help in any way that we’re called on.”

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDODNews)