News: Marines assist in Philippines
Story by 1st Lt. Jean-Scott Dodd
MANILA, Republic of the Philippines - Personnel and aircraft with III Marine Expeditionary Force continue to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support at the request of the government of the Republic of the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha), which made landfall Dec. 4.
Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules aircraft from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR-152), Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF, conducted four flights and transported approximately 150,000 pounds of relief supplies consisting of high-energy biscuits, tents and nutritional energy bars Dec. 15.The four flights and 150,000 pounds transported marked the busiest day of relief operations for the squadron.
Col. Mark J. Menotti, the officer in charge of the III MEF forward command element, and other command element staff flew to Mindanao, one the most heavily-affected areas in the southern Philippines, to meet with members of Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command and conduct a site survey of devastated areas in Mindanao.
VMGR-152's aircraft arrived Dec. 8, seven hours after the Philippine
government requested support.As of Dec. 16, the squadron has flown a total of 21 flights and delivered more than 700,000 pounds of relief supplies consisting of family ration packs, relief aid boxes containing personal hygiene items and clothing, high-energy biscuits, rice, generators, mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats, tents and liquid containers.
The squadron also has transported one water purification unit from Marine Corps Forces Pacific which has been producing 5,500 gallons of water per hour for eigh hours each day, four water purification specialists, three personnel from USAID and the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development, and a United Nation's World Food Programme relief module and three of their tents.
Marines continue to transport relief supplies from Villamor Air Base in Manila to Davao International Airport in Mindanao. Upon landing at Davao, Philippine service members and Marines have been working hard to unload supplies as quickly as possible onto trucks. The supplies are then distributed by Philippine government and nongovernmental organizations to displaced families affected by the typhoon as directed by the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Marines with 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, who were in Manila conducting planning for future bilateral training exercises with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, stood up the III MEF forward command element Dec. 8 to support relief efforts led by the Philippine government. The command element established the bilateral coordination center, which is providing command
and control for U.S. Marine relief efforts and coordinating requests for support with the government and Armed Forces of the Philippines, U.S. Embassy and Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, part of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The bilateral coordination center also consists of personnel with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Pacific Air Forces, OFDA, Joint-U.S. Military Assistance Group-Philippines and Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines. The center enables prioritization of effort and synchronizes humanitarian assistance and relief efforts, resulting in more efficient coordination and operations.
U.S. and Philippine armed forces are working shoulder to shoulder on missions to ensure relief supplies get to the main distribution hub, where they can reach those most in need. The Philippine government has led the effort to help its citizens following the typhoon.