AM Tsunami Digest
The Bonhomme Richard has 15 MEU embarked. They were originally destined for Operation Iraqi Freedom OIF3 Western Pacific Forward Deployed.
Japan is sending troops and medical staff to Phuket to help search for missing people and offer aid to survivors of Sunday's massive earthquake and tsunami, government officials said Tuesday. The Thai government requested the SDF dispatch, they added. Japan has also pledged 3.1 billion yen in aid to the stricken countries, including an initial disbursement of 300 million yen to Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura made a formal request to the Defense Ministry to deploy the SDF troops, based on the Japan Disaster Relief Team dispatch law. Defense Agency Director-General Yoshinori Ono Tuesday ordered three ships returning to Japan from the Indian Ocean to head for the Thai resort island. The two Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers and a supply vessel had been in the Indian Ocean assisting the U.S.-led anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan. The Kirishima, an Aegis-equipped destroyer, the Takanami destroyer and the Hamana support vessel were in waters near Singapore when the order to redeploy arrived. They will be in place near Phuket for search and rescue activities with a helicopter by Wednesday. ``The SDF are now standing by to swiftly take part in an international disaster relief action. We expect to assist in search and rescue, medical services and epidemic control activities. Our troops are preparing to leave immediately,'' Defense Agency chief Ono said. (Cont)
Source: Asahi Shimbum
Guam-Based Air Force Crews Gear-Up For Southeast Asian Relief EffortGuam is continuing to do its part to aid in the disaster relief efforts in Southeast Asia. 13th Air Force personnel stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo were deployed to Thailand Wednesday afternoon following the Navy's departure of the Expeditionary Strike Group 5. Airmen are being sent to Thailand in a humanitarian mission to aid in disaster relief efforts. Airmen with the 13th Air Force on Guam are the first American military personnel to set foot into the area for the relief efforts. They will be responsible for the airlift and distribution of food and water supplies. Colonel Gregg Sanders told KUAM News, "Well, we wanted to go as fast as we can, because we know there's a sense of urgency, so we looked at folks that have experience in airlift operations so that when they're on the ground, they can look at how we take those goods to strategic airlift, marshal them, and redistribute them to the areas that have been struck by the disaster." Due to the urgent nature of the trip, the designated airmen prepared for deployment by getting their immunizations in order and taking care of last-minute health and legal concerns. Chaplain Major Greg Woodbury says it's a blessing to be able to help those less fortunate, but that these missions carry certain risks. He explained, "It almost becomes a mind boggling experience when you see the sheer amount of death and destruction, there are sights and sounds and smells and experiences of grief that really affect you in a deep personal way, so it's important for us to when people come back to just debrief them and see if they can adjust and process what they've just witnessed." (Cont)
Source: KUAM's Alicia Chon contributed to this report
U.S. Military Adds Ships, Planes, People To Relief Effort The U.S. military is adding more ships, planes and people to its relief efforts on behalf of the victims of Sunday’s massive earthquake and resulting tsunamis. Joint Chiefs of Staff Director of Operations Lt. General James T. Conway briefed reporters from the State Department on Wednesday. He said that six C-130 aircraft will be operating out of the air base at Utapao, Thailand, south of Bangkok. "We have committed nine P-3 aircraft," Conway said, "four of which will operate out of Utapao; the other five will operate out of Diego Garcia," a small island in the Indian Ocean that escaped damage from the ocean surges. "The [USS Abraham] Lincoln Carrier Strike Group … has been diverted now to the Gulf of Thailand," Conway said. "The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group was in Guam. It is forgoing port visits there and in Singapore to move rapidly to the Bay of Bengal. It is estimated to be on station sometime on or before 7 January. It has seven ships associated with the strike group [and] carries 25 helicopters. "[There are] 2,100 Marines [and] 1,400 sailors embarked aboard the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and 15th MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit]," he said. The U.S. Pacific Command, which is in charge of relief efforts, will send five ships with fresh-water producing capability. A ship with a field hospital will also be sent, Conway said. Two more ships based at Diego Garcia with a 90,000-gallon fresh water capability will be sent as soon as possible.
Source: By Patrick Dickson, Stars and Stripes
Tsunami Waters Raise Landmine Fears In Sri Lanka Already haunted by fears of a new tsunami or spread of disease, survivors picking through debris of entire towns to recover corpses at Sri Lanka's northern tip face a new danger -- floating landmines. Nestled near a border dividing the north between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels, the area around the small fishing village of Point Pedro -- devasted by giant tsunami waves on Sunday -- is now littered with plastic landmines uprooted by floodwaters. "There are land mines spread all over. Many of them have moved, hundreds are floating," said Sinnathurai Kathiravelpillai, a district medical officer working near Point Pedro. Mine disposal units estimate there are around one million mines scattered mostly around northern Sri Lanka, a legacy of a bloody two-decade civil war that killed 64,000 people until a ceasefire three years ago.