Tag Archives: Operation Unified Response

Kentucky National Guard provides neighborly support for Haiti from the Dominican Republic

By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson, Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Less than a week after reviving a “rundown, abandoned airfield” in Barahona, Dominican Republic, the Kentucky National Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group (CRG) has already helped to ease the flow of much needed medical supplies, food and water to neighboring Haiti who suffered a horrendous earthquake two weeks ago.

During an interview Tuesday, Jan. 26 on DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, a public affairs officer with the Kentucky National Guard discussed what he describes as “One heckuva very fulfilling operation.”

So far, approximately 52 aircraft, mainly the U.S. Air Force’s C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster IIIs, have brought in close to 576 tons of water, food and medical provisions, to include live donor organs and plasma, which are then trucked 60 miles east to the Haitian city of Port-au-Prince and other neighboring communities.

123rdKentuckyKnown as the “airbase in a box,” Kentucky’s 123rd CRG members represent a broad spectrum of specialties, including airfield security, ramp and cargo operations, and command and control. Many of the Airmen already have operational experiences from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as from stateside operations in support of relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina and assisting those who suffered from Kentucky’s deep freeze last February, 2009.

The team of about 60 deployed to the Dominican also includes about 15-20 active duty members who are providing security forces, and administrative needs to include a small contracting office that prepares documentation to secure flatbed trucks to get the needed supplies across the boarder.

The Kentucky Guard is expected to continue supporting Operation Unified Response from the Barahona airfield for 60 to 120 days, depending on what the mission dictates, said Colonel Hilbrecht.

For more information on what the National Guard is doing to support “Operation Unified Response” go to: www.ng.mil/features/haiti.

Photo: Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing load gear for a deployment from the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 21, 2010, in preparation for a flight to the Dominican Republic as part of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. Three C-130s and approximately 45 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen departed from the Louisville, Ky.-based unit on Jan. 22, 2010, to establish an air cargo hub responsible for controlling incoming aircraft, offloading relief supplies and staging them for further movement into Haiti. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Dennis Flora)

Operation Unified Response makes progress in Haiti, hard work still ahead

By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson, Air Force Public Affairs Agency

 

Providing medical care and delivering water and food supplies are top essentials in supporting Operation Unified Response in Haiti for now, but more4285864103_a377febb69 tasks are to come in the near future.

“No one’s kidding themselves,” there are enormous tasks in front of us, in bringing stability to Haiti, said Lt. Gen. P. K. (Ken) Keen who discussed these top priorities during an interview Jan. 18, on DoD Live Bloggers Roundtable.

“We’re going to do our very best to help the Haitian people with what they need as fast as we can. It’s taking our entire military to do this, and we’re building up each day,” said General Keen who is the Joint Task Force Commander Haiti as well as the U.S. Southern Command deputy commander.

With 1,400 U.S. servicemembers on the ground, and nearly 5,000 afloat, those numbers will grow in coming days to about 5,000 on the ground and another 5,000 off shore supporting Haiti needs. The goal is to leave the lightest “footprint” by not sending in too many people for they will consume what other wise could be pushed out to the population, he said. There has to be a balance in order do to accomplish our mission. 

The Port-au-Prince International Airport is hopping with 24-hour operations, averaging 180 round-the-clock flights per day. To maximize movement, the Air Force is alloting planes 2 hours each to get in and get out whether it be to deliver supplies or to pick up evacuees. Mind you, this is includes the Air Force’s big birds such as the C-17 Globemaster III and the C-130 Hercules on a 10,000-foot runway which normally only handles about 13 flights a day.

100118-F-4177H-257While Air Force personnel are essentially running airport operations, the Haitian government determines the priorities and the order in which planes are scheduled depending on the needs at any given time.  Timeliness is crucial in meeting those top needs — especially delivering medical supplies.

“We’re doing the best we can, but have more to do,” said General Keen. “It is absolutely critical to get the ports open,” he said.  And while Haiti seaports are damaged, more U.S. Naval and Marine support are arriving , to meet crucial demands such as more hospitals.

The U.S. is an enduring partner and will remain committed to providing support to the Haitians to ensure they are able to recover from this devastating disaster. If you’re interested in helping Haiti with urgent and long-term needs, go to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund website or any number of trusted aid relief organizations such as the American Red Cross.

SOUTHCOM, who has led U.S. military support to 14 major relief missions, including assistance to Haiti in September 2008, is working closely with United Nations Stabilization Mission, or MINUSTAH, and local officials. For more information about the Air Force’s participation in the Haiti Earthquake relief effort, visit http://www.af.mil/humanitarianrelieftohaiti/index.asp. For a compilation of official U.S. Government Twitter accounts following Haiti relief, click here.