News: USS Iwo Jima heads to Haiti for Tropical Storm Tomas relief efforts
Story by Cpl. Alicia R. Leaders
USS IWO JIMA, At Sea – Marines and sailors of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Continuing Promise 2010 redirected from Paramaribo, Suriname to Haiti, Nov. 1, to assist in possible disaster relief operations caused by Tropical Storm Tomas.
U.S. Southern Command and Commander, Fourth Fleet directed the CP10 mission onboard USS Iwo Jima to conclude operations early in Suriname and set sail toward Haiti. During their time in Paramaribo, Marines and sailors provided medical, dental, veterinary, engineering and community relation services to Surinamese citizens. Humanitarian civic assistance is only part of the CP10 mission. CP10 also serves as a first-responder to provide aid to a natural disaster in support of humanitarian assistance/disaster relief efforts.
USS Iwo Jima arrived in the Haiti region, Nov. 5, to provide aerial assessments along main supply routes and populated areas throughout the southern peninsula. A small number of Marines could be called upon to go ashore and primarily serve as translators, air traffic control, and provide liaison officers to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. This will give the government of Haiti and the United States Agency for International Development a better understanding of the storm damage that will determine what level of relief efforts will be necessary.
“The Special-Purpose MAGTF is organized, trained and equipped to react as first-responders in the case of a natural disaster in the Central and South America region,” said Lt. Col. Chris S. Richie, commanding officer of Special-Purpose MAGTF. “They have been well trained and now have an opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of others.”
The MAGTF is equipped with approximately 500 Marines that make up a Command Element, Ground Combat Element, Logistics Combat Element and Air Combat Element (eight CH-46 Sea Knight Helicopters). Marines have trained pre-deployment and while underway to respond to a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenario.
“During our deployment, we have gained operational efficiencies with our Navy team in HCA activities. Haiti was our first stop for Continuing Promise back in July; It is fitting that we return now to provide an immediate response following the storm,” said Richie.
“The inherent flexibility of our amphibious forces allows us to be in position to assist the people of Haiti should it be required,” said Navy Capt. Thomas M. Negus, mission commander for CP10. “We are departing Suriname earlier than planned, as we are always prepared to act as “first responders” to provide disaster relief where needed.”
For more information on the Continuing Promise 2010 Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, please visit the unit’s official website at http://www.marines.mil/unit/2ndMAW/SPMAGTF.