Mobility Airmen help deliver more than 10 million pounds of aid to Pakistan

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The U.S. State Department announced Sept. 24 that U.S. military aircraft, including aircraft flown by deployed Air Mobility Command Airmen, have surpassed delivering more than 10 million pounds of aid in support of Pakistan flood relief efforts.

"We are very glad to be able to assist the Government of Pakistan in their flood relief efforts and help save lives," said Vice Adm. Mike LeFever, the Department of Defense representative to Pakistan, in a State Dept. press release. "Delivery of aid to those affected by the floods is critical. Thanks to the amazing partnership and support we've experienced from the Pakistan military, we've been able to quickly deliver more than 10 million pounds of relief supplies to multiple distribution points around Pakistan."

The announcement comes with the continuing effort by the DOD to support relief operations. In a DOD report on Sept. 20, Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said the amount of U.S. aid provided to Pakistan to date has been impressive. U.S. military aid operations began Aug. 5 with Army helicopters from Afghanistan delivering supplies and rescuing those trapped by flooding. Around the same time, Air Force C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and the Airmen supporting them also began relief operations support.

The National Disaster Management Authority in Pakistan Web site showed on Sept. 24 that more than 20 million people have been affected by the floods and more than 1,800 people have died from them. The State Department release showed that in response, U.S. military helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft -- working in close partnership with the Pakistan military -- have rescued more than 17,000 people in addition to delivering 10 million pounds of aid.

Currently, there are 26 U.S. military helicopters supporting relief efforts in Pakistan with more offshore aboard the U.S. Navy's USS Peleliu, the State Department release stated. An average of four to six C-130 and C-17 aircraft daily deliver aid throughout the country operating out of several bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In addition to the daily C-130 and C-17 relief missions there are more than 30 Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., operating a contingency response element at Pakistan Air Force Base Chaklala. The team of Airmen arrived in country Aug. 28 and have worked "around the clock" to assist with managing the distribution of incoming international relief supplies by building aid pallets for onward transportation, loading and unloading aircraft, and scheduling aircraft relief flights.

"We became incredibly busy as soon as we arrived and began operations," said Lt. Col. Shawn Underwood, CRE commander, said in a U.S. Embassy Islamabad press release Sept. 22. "The contingency response element is trying to build pallets of flood relief supplies a day in advance and, in turn, build contingency pallets to allow for more flexibility and efficiency of operations."

In a Sept. 14 message, Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., Air Mobility Command commander, said mobility Airmen are meeting the challenge of aid efforts in addition to other global taskings.

"Since late-July, mobility Airmen from across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility and throughout the Air Force have been diligently supporting relief operations in that country," General Johns said. "And although it's good to be recognized for a job well done, we don't do this for ourselves, or by ourselves. With the tremendous support of our Guard, Reserve and commercial partners, our Mobility Air Forces provide unsurpassed air mobility support for our joint and coalition forces and for victims of natural disasters around the globe. We're giving our land component commanders more options, we're saving livings, we're fueling the fight, and we're offering a helping hand to victims of natural disasters around the globe."

(Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service, U.S. Embassy Islamabad, and Courtney Beale, U.S. State Department, contributed to this report.)