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Thursday, January 20, 2005

U.S. Begins Tsunami Aid Scale Back

My Way News reports that the U.S. will begin to withdraw some of its presence in the tsunami relief area here:
Adm. Thomas Fargo, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, said the U.S. military "will start right now transferring functions to the appropriate host nations and international organizations."

About 15,000 American troops have been deployed to tsunami-hit nations, where huge waves spawned by a massive earthquake swept away coastal settlements on Dec. 26. Most of the soldiers have been sent to worst-hit Sumatra island in Indonesia.

At a news conference on Thursday, Fargo, who was on a two-day visit to Malaysia, noted that the humanitarian missions in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other affected countries have moved from the "immediate relief phase ... toward rehabilitation and reconstruction."

A little side question: Why does the AP lump the sailors and Marines involved under the generic term "troops?" Would it hurt to say "military personnel?"

Update: The U.S. is not alone in cutting back, Singapore is reallocating its forces, too, as noted here.

Update2: Blackfive posts a letter from Marine Colonel Jim Kessler who is heavily involved with military humanitarian logistical relief in Sri Lanka:
I visited one of our job sites at a small fishing village where most of the homes were demolished by the tsunami.  Hardly a family made it through without significant loss of life and property.  Yet, despite these horrific losses, they had smiles on their faces as they saw Marines working their butts off helping them get things back in order.  I tell you, it gives me goose bumps just thinking about how marvelous these young AMERICANS are. Not just Marines, but the sailors and soldiers with us as well. They work their tails off and still have time to play with the kids and bring smiles to their beautiful little faces.  You would be SO very proud of the job they are doing!

While the efforts in each country vary significantly, I can tell you we have had a lasting positive impact on the people of Sri Lanka.
BZ Colonel and to all your hardworking sailors, Marines and soldiers.

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