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U.S. military ramps up Philippine typhoon mission

By Eric Talmadge

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:17 p.m. HST, Nov 15, 2013

VILLAMOR AIR BASE, Philippines >> The U.S. military is sending roughly 1,000 more troops, along with additional ships and aircraft, to join a massive effort to assist typhoon victims in the Philippines -- a mission one Philippine military official on Friday (Thursday in Hawaii) called a "game changer."

"We are increasing our presence based on the request of the government of the Philippines," said Col. John Peck, chief of staff for the 3rd Marines Expeditionary Battalion, which is coordinating the U.S. operation from a Philippine air force base next to Manila's international airport.

The U.S. military -- looking to both help an ally and show its commitment to remaining the leading power in the Pacific amid the rise of China -- has been extremely fast in responding to the disaster.

About a half dozen countries -- including Japan, Indonesia, and Singapore -- have offered military assistance to Manila, and many more have sent supplies. Chinese troops, however, have been prominently absent, in large part because of a territorial spat between the two nations.

According to Lt. Col. Rodney Legowski, the first U.S. Marines arrived in the Philippines in response to the disaster within six hours, and began flying supplies to affected areas less than 18 hours after that. By Friday, there were 400 Marines in the country.

The USS George Washington aircraft carrier and its battle group are also in place off the hard-hit islands of Leyte and Samar. So far, the U.S. military has moved 174,000 kilograms (190 tons) of supplies and flown nearly 200 sorties.

"Having the U.S. military here is a game changer," said Col. Miguel Okol, a spokesman for the Philippine air force. "For countries that we don't have these kinds of relationships with, it can take a while to get help. But with the U.S., it's immediate."

With roughly 600,000 people displaced by the typhoon and millions still in need of aid, the Marines said in a statement Thursday that about 900 more Marines based on Okinawa, Japan, were to arrive early next week aboard two U.S. Navy amphibious ships.

Another 100 Marines from Okinawa will come aboard aircraft.

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localguy wrote:
No other country in the world can match the US Military when it comes to disaster response. China hasn't got a clue on this one, their rookie, virgin, military just plays with their new toys. Incredible how the carrier George Washington can produce 400k gallons of fresh water a day. USMC Ospreys carry more cargo and move it faster than any helicopter. Add in military water purification units and what a support package we can put on the ground in a very short time. And in San Diego the USNS medical ship Mercy is being prepped to head to the disaster area. Again, no other country operates ships like this, a fully staffed and operational hospital. Not a bad use of our tax dollars. Sadly there are those people who just don't get it.
on November 15,2013 | 06:42AM
aomohoa wrote:
Best thing ever for our Military to be doing.
on November 15,2013 | 08:36AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Other than next door neighbor Indonesia....have any of the Muslim countries stepped up to the plate to help the Philippines? I see that Israel is there...is Saudia Arabia? Hmmm..
on November 15,2013 | 07:01AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Meanwhile China is busy beefing up troops to the disputed Panatag Shoal while the Phillipines is busy.
on November 15,2013 | 09:29AM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
The UN just published a list of monetary donors, the United Arab Emirates is one of the biggest donors. The larges donor is Australia, the United States is fourth, and the aforementioned UAE is fifth.
on November 15,2013 | 03:09PM
HawaiiCheeseBall wrote:
America's best lending a hand to people in need. Be safe.
on November 15,2013 | 11:30AM
false wrote:
We are increasing our presence based on the request of the government of the Philippines. The U.S. military has been extremely fast in responding to the disaster. This is well and good but where is the Philippine military? I have been watching the CNN news and it seems that there are a few soldiers and police force carrying weapons while walking around and looking like they're trying to control the crowd. I would think that the priority of the Philippine military would be to dispose of the dead bodies that have been laying around for days, but the civilians are trying to take care of that situation. I guess they're waiting for the U.S. to bring in food and aid so they could be the ones to make distribution and be the savior. Everything shouldn't be focused only on food and water but I would think that the dead bodies should be buried as soon as possible before the town becomes contaminated with disease. Poor leadership and unorganized procedures by the Philippine government. Too much dependency on the U.S. government by the Philippine government.
on November 15,2013 | 12:30PM
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