Good Company

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Sunday, January 02, 2005

Secretary Powell: Logistics Matters

On Meet the Press (transcript here), Secretary Powell proves he was a military professional by pointing out: "There's no point spending a lot of money to put all of these supplies in the region unless you can distribute these supplies."

Here's the context:
We began working with the international community.  The president made a statement on Wednesday which demonstrated his concern and also created a core group to begin making sure that all of our efforts were aligned.  The president was kept informed constantly from Sunday afternoon on.  I spoke to him on Monday, noon, before I went out and made my first press statement.  And as we got our assessments in and as the magnitude of this really hit us, then the president decided, based on a recommendation from me and administrator of the AID, Natsios, that we should go to $350 million.

This is also consistent with what other nations had been doing.  I'm so pleased the Japanese have gone to $500 million, but they also started out at a much lower number, as did so many other nations.  After you see the impact of this and the enormity of it, then you scale up your efforts.  But it is not just a matter of money.  It's a matter of getting supplies to the region and then, once you get these supplies to airports and ports, how do you make retail distribution out to the people in need?  And this is where trucks, helicopters, C-130 aircraft, they come into play.  There's no point spending a lot of money to put all of these supplies in the region unless you can distribute these supplies.

So one of the things that I will be looking at on my trip with Governor Bush and our FEMA director and other people is, is there anything we can do to help these countries, which have never been exposed to this kind of catastrophe, to help them organize themselves to deliver the aid, and also to consider the reconstruction effort that's going to be required?

I might add two other points, if I may, Tim.  One:  Our Defense Department is spending a great deal of money, which doesn't count as part of the $350 million, to put our assets in the region and to fly our helicopters and other aircraft and ships to assist with this.  And the other thing that's so exciting is the response from the private sector of America.  I mean, companies are matching the contributions of employees.  I know that you're doing things right here at your network, so many other networks. is allowing you to one-click a contribution to the American Red Cross.  So tens and tens of millions of dollars are being raised within the private community, which suggests the nature of our society, the compassion that we have for people in need.

So I think the American response has been appropriate.  It has been scaled up as the scale of the disaster became more widely known.  And the reason I want to linger on this a bit is I want the American people to understand that their government and our society has responded appropriately.  I will tell you who is not churlish or disappointed in our response, and that's the nations who are receiving aid.  They have been very thankful and very appreciative of what we have done, and we will do more.

Update: GeoPolitical Review gets to the heart of the matter. The U.S. military brings the means to get the goods where needed and the Main Stream Media seems clueless about how important this is.
The other aspect of the U.S. military's contribution to international aid is the services only they can provide. We note that the cost of these services is not factored into the aid indexes cited by the MSM pundits or reporters. Examples of crucial military aid includes the transportation of essential aid products through C-130 airlift operations (i.e. drinking water, food, clothing, medicine, fuel, etc.), the conversion of U.S. Navy vessels into floating hospitals, disaster relief assessment, and clean up operations, among others. These humanitarian contributions by the U.S. military often go underreported not to mention under appreciated.

For what the U.S. is bringing, see my previous posts here and here.

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