U.S. Southern Command Transitions Haiti Efforts

first_imgBy Dialogo June 02, 2010 Five months after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated Haiti, the U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Joint Task Force Haiti officially completed its mission marking the end of Operation Unified Response. Despite the completion of the humanitarian operation, SOUTHCOM’s commitment to Haiti will continue with engineering projects as part of New Horizons, a joint medical and infrastructure exercise, as well as visits by medical assistance teams. Additionally, the medical staff aboard the U.S. Navy amphibious ship Iwo Jima will provide medical care and perform surgeries during a visit to the Caribbean nation this summer. “These engineering projects and medical services were coordinated and approved by the Government of Haiti and USAID and demonstrate our continued support to the people of Haiti,” said Gen. Douglas Fraser, commander, U.S. Southern Command. “We also have a robust capability to rapidly respond to any future disaster situation in Haiti.” The New Horizons exercises, involving approximately 500 National Guard troops, will take place in various locations in Haiti outside the country’s capital, Port au Prince, from June to September and include the construction of schools, clinics, and community centers that can also serve as hurricane shelters. New Horizons missions began in the mid-1980s as an annual series of joint and combined humanitarian assistance exercises that SOUTHCOM conducts with Latin American and Caribbean nations. The exercises typically last several months, providing medical and infrastructure projects. These missions give deployed U.S. military forces invaluable training opportunities to work with partner nations. In addition to these activities, U.S. Southern Command will fund $13 million in disaster preparedness and humanitarian assistance projects designed to enhance the capacity of the Government of Haiti to provide essential services to its citizens. The projects include the construction of four emergency operations centers and four disaster response warehouses that will increase the Haitian government‘s response capability to future natural and man-made disasters. U.S. military forces delivered more than 2.6 million bottles of water, 2.2 million food rations, 17 million pounds of bulk food and 149,000 pounds of medical supplies to Haiti. Specialized units also improved and increased the capacity at the south pier at the Port au Prince’s main port facility. But perhaps the most renowned U.S. military contribution to Haiti’s recovery was the reopening and operation of Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport in Port au Prince by the airmen of the 1st Special Operations Wing. Within 30 hours of the earthquake and less than 30 minutes after landing, they reopened airfield operations using hand-held radios to safely land and take-off hundreds of aircrafts which allowed for the abundant flow of international aid as well US and partner nation military humanitarian relief forces.last_img