Military aircraft sweeping out of the sky have meant little but death for the people of the Swat Valley in Pakistan until now. Long a stronghold for the Taliban, this restive region has been devastated by the record monsoon flooding that began in late July 2010. The Pakistani government has limited resources and they have asked for assistance from other nations. Stepping forward, the United States military is engaged in rescue and relief efforts in the Valley and other parts of northern Pakistan.
LCDR Jim Hoeft, USN, is providing details of this effort in regular e-mails from Ghazi Airbase in Pakistan. Through August 22, U.S. aircraft, including Air Force C-130 cargo planes operating from Afghanistan, have delivered over 1.6 million pounds of supplies. Helicopters from the Army, Navy and Marine Corps have rescued or evacuated 7,835 people. A map of the region and the operations may be found at the ReliefWeb site.
Hoeft tells that the World Food Program has provided assistance to over 1.3 million people, distributing 16,000 metric tons of food. 50% of this food was provided by the United States. Since August 8, U.S. provided water treatment plants have produced 4.8 million liters of safe drinking water.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports on the situation August 20-23. They estimate that over 17 million Pakistanis have been affected by the flooding. 1,539 people have died and 1.2 million houses have been damaged or destroyed.
The State Department says that the United States has committed over $150 million for Pakistani flood relief. They are also providing a link to a Relief Fund where individuals may make donations. Their statment also provides the following information about additional relief supplies:
“Emergency relief items were delivered to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). The items include: 18 Zodiac rescue boats, 6 water filtration units, 10 water storage bladders, 30 concrete-cutting saws, 12 pre-fabricated steel bridges and a 25kw generator which was provided to the Frontier Scouts-KPk to support their flood relief efforts.”
There are about 400 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in Pakistan support flood relief efforts. LCDR Hoeft makes it clear that the missions are determined by the Pakistani government. The boots on the ground are there solely to support the aircraft and the mission.