Thursday, December 30, 2004

Indonesian navy sailors loaded donations headed to tsunami-damaged Banda Aceh onto a cargo ship yesterday. Food shortages and disease are looming threats as officials fret that aid is not reaching the city quickly enough.

U.S. forces increase
disaster aid to S. Asia

Fourteen military mortuary affairs and forensic specialists will leave Hickam Air Force Base today to aid in the recovery and identification of victims from Sunday's devastating Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamis.

The two teams from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command will first be flown into Thailand before being sent to one of the affected Asian countries.

The JPAC teams will be transported to Thailand on a Hawaii Air National Guard KC-135 jet Stratotanker.

The Pacific Command at Camp Smith ordered the JPAC teams, which are normally used to recover and identify remains of servicemen missing in action, to be deployed to help the military relief effort headed by the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force from Okinawa.

The Pacific Command also reported that six roll-on, roll-off cargo vessels belonging to Maritime Preposition Squadron 3 in Guam have been sent to the Indian Ocean region loaded with enough equipment and supplies to sustain 17,000 Marines for up to 30 days.

Each ship can discharge cargo either pierside or while anchored offshore.

The cargo vessels have equipment to convert massive gallons of salt water to fresh water daily.

In addition, two similar cargo vessels were deployed from Diego Garcia, with one specially equipped to support a 500-bed floating hospital complete with surgical wards.

These ships carry pre-positioned cargo for U.S. military forces and have supported the 1991 Desert Storm war, the Iraq war and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, as well as other numerous exercises and operations from California to South Korea.

The Pacific Command reports that assessment teams are now in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand to help determine the needs of the victims and how much food, water and other supplies will be brought in.

The Air Force continues to ferry pallets of water, food and other supplies by C-130 cargo planes from Yokota Air Base in Japan and three KC-135 jet aircraft from Kadena Air Base on Okinawa to Utapao in Thailand, where Pacific Command's Joint Task Force 536 has been established.

Lt. Gen. Robert Blackman commands Joint Task Force 536 and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force.

Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command
U.S. Pacific Command
American Red Cross Hawaii

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