News: JTF 505 activates for Operation Damayan
CAMP AGUINALDO, Philippines – Joint Task Force 505 officially activated today, Nov. 18, in order to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in support of the government and Armed Forces of the Philippines in Operation Damayan.
Lt. Gen. John Wissler, U.S. Marine Corps, commanding general, III Marine Expeditionary Force, was designated as the JTF-505 commander by Pacific Command commander Adm. Samuel L. Locklear on Nov. 13. JTF-505 follows the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade’s Force as they were the initial U.S. military response to the government and Armed Forces of the Philippines provided lifesaving support and critical relief supplies.
JTF-505 headquarters will be located at Camp Aguinaldo, near Manila, and will coordinate U.S. military relief efforts. The task force will work closely with senior representatives from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other U.S. agencies to ensure continued, timely and swift responses to requests from our allied partner, the Government of the Philippines.
“Because of the longstanding partnership and friendship between our two nations, the U.S., working in support of the government and Armed Forces of the Philippines, is able to rapidly respond with critically needed capabilities and supplies in times of crisis,” said Wissler.
JTF-505 currently includes nearly 850 personnel on the ground and an additional 6,200 in the USS George Washington Strike Group. An additional 1,000 Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are expected to arrive in approximately three days. Personnel and equipment from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps has come from Hawaii, Okinawa, mainland Japan and the continental U.S.
JTF-505 will integrate and coordinate with foreign military units and non-governmental relief organizations supporting the disaster efforts.
“The U.S. military has a history of successfully working with international relief organizations and host nations to respond to those people affected by natural disasters,” said Wissler. “As we reach out further and further into the outlying areas, we will have a better assessment of the complete scope of disaster. The duration and extent of JTF-505 support will depend on the needs of the government of the Philippines, and we are fully partnered with the Armed Forces of the Philippines in our relief operations. We will be present as long as we are needed, but no longer than required.”