US Military First on Scene to Aid in Rescue and Relief Efforts

The United States rushed assistance to the Philippines after the Aquino government made a formal request for help in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.

us aid relief philippines
Photo Credit: Capt. Joshua Diddams/US Pacific Command
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel issued the order for the Pacific Command to deploy aircraft and ships to the Philippines in an effort to support the search and rescue operations while bringing in emergency supplies.  

Nearly 100 US Marines arrived in Manila on Sunday after making the 1,500 mile journey from the US air station in Japan aboard a pair of KC-130J Super Hercules cargo aircraft. The team will be initially deployed on search and rescue missions before making the transition to transportation and logistics. This is just the first wave of promised assistance by the US military that includes aircraft for search and rescue operations. 

According to Colonel John Peck, the US military will be deploying twelve aircraft including: 
  • Five KC-130 aircraft, an extended range cargo aircraft capable of hauling large payloads to disaster areas.
  • Four MV-22 Ospreys, a tilt-rotor aircraft that is capable of landing like a helicopter in areas without airstrips.
  • Two P-3 Orion, an aircraft used for surveying affected areas.
  • One UC-35 Transporter, a military version of a business jet.
Meanwhile, the Marines that arrived on Sunday have already scrambled to get to the worst-affected areas. On Monday, one of the KC-130 aircraft departed Manila en route to Tacloban carrying bottled water, generators wrapped in plastic, a forklift, and two trucks. It will be the first of several American relief flights to the devastated region. 

us typhoon relief philippines
Copyright Photo: AFP
Upon arrival in Tacloban, Marine Brigadier General Paul Kennedy reported that roads are impassable and power is down. "I am not sure what else is there," said Kennedy. "I am not sure how else to describe this destruction." Officials in the United States report that an additional 180 Marines are already en route and that the Pentagon is standing by for additional requests for further aid from the Philippine government. 

"Our hearts go out to the people of the Philippines," said George Little, a spokesman for the Pentagon. "This is a tremendously damaging storm." The Pentagon continues to work alongside the US Agency for International Development in an effort to coordinate the aid. "Within hours, the US Embassy in Manila provided substantial financial assistance for health, water, and sanitation," said John Kerry, Secretary of State. "The US government is organizing emergency shipments of critically needed materials to provide shelter to the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos driven from their homes by this unprecedented typhoon."

American President Barack Obama expressed solidarity with the Philippines. "Michelle and I are deeply saddened by the loss of life and extensive damage done by super typhoon Yolanda," said Obama. "But I know the incredible resiliency of the Philippine people and I am confident that the spirit of bayanihan will see you through this tragedy." He added that the United States plans to provide significant humanitarian assistance and will continue to support the Philippine government's relief and recovery efforts. 

The US Agency for International Development is shipping supplies including hygiene materials, and emergency shelter to support 10,000 families. It is expected that the supplies will arrive early this week. In addition, 55 metric tons of emergency food supplies capable of feeding 15,000 adults and 20,000 children for up to five days will also be sent. An emergency response team is already deployed in Leyte assessing damage and monitoring humanitarian conditions. 

Meanwhile, a group of US veterans is planning to deploy ex-troops to support search and rescue efforts by providing a medical triage for a full-scale field hospital in Tacloban. The United Nations reports that although relief operations have begun, access continues to be a challenge as several areas remain cut off. 

The US government has worked with the Philippine government since 1990 in responding to more than forty disasters including droughts, floods, and volcanoes. When disaster has struck the country, the US military has often been the first to arrive on scene with food, water, tents, and medical aid.


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  3. There are no words to describe it. Language of a different kind. Definitely overwhelming and bring tears to the eyes.
    Makes me proud to be an American.

    To the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines of the United States Armed Forces, and other civilian volunteer aid agencies. All honest, ordinary, decent and hard working Americans. That despite the losses of the Filipino typhoon victims you ease their sorrow and pain with dignity, you make the people of the Philippines smile and hope for better things in life after the devastation. You make them feel as being a part of the species when the typhoon left them in despair. Imagine that and let it sink in for a moment.

    Thank you Lockheed Georgia. Thank you Boeing. Thank you Sikorsky. Thank you Bell Textron. Take a good look at your work seen at its best. May you all have a happy Thanks Giving this year.

    God bless you all and god bless America.

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