At the request of the government of the Philippines, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed U.S. Pacific Command to support humanitarian relief operations in the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said Friday that the U.S. military footprint in the Philippines was “small” and didn’t appear to sustain damage from the devastating storm, which clocked winds upward of 200 mph and may have killed as many as 10,000 people in monster storm surges.
The DoD said Saturday that the initial focus of Pacom assistance includes surface maritime search and rescue, medium-heavy helicopter lift support, airborne maritime SAR, fixed-wing lift support and logistics enablers.
“Having so recently had my own visit to the Philippines prevented by another powerful storm, I know that these horrific acts of nature are a burden that you have wrestled with and courageously surmounted before,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “Your spirit is strong. The United States stands ready to help, our embassies in the Philippines and Palau are in close contact with your governments, and our most heartfelt prayers are with you.”
President Obama issued a statement saying he was “deeply saddened by the loss of life and extensive damage done by Super Typhoon Yolanda.”
“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,” Obama continued, using a Filipino term for community. “The United States is already providing significant humanitarian assistance, and we stand ready to further assist the Government’s relief and recovery efforts. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions of people affected by this devastating storm.”
The administration earmarked $100,000 to help pay for water, healthcare and generators for Filipinos.
“The United States can and must do everything in our power to assist our friend and ally in dealing with the devastating consequences of this storm, and to help meet the needs of the Filipino people in addressing this disaster,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
Kerry followed up his initial statement with an announcement today that “the State Department is working with Team Rubicon to deploy a team of incredible, courageous American veterans to the Philippines and all the areas damaged by Typhoon Haiyan.”
“Since the start of this calamity, the United States has been working closely with our partners in the Philippines to provide rapid and effective relief. Our embassies in the Philippines and Palau are in close and constant contact with their partners in local governments to direct aid to the right places. When I spoke with Philippines Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario, I assured him of our full commitment to providing all necessary assistance,” Kerry continued.
“…I want to assure the people of the Philippines and the many Americans of Filipino heritage that we are working as hard as possible to provide essential assistance to help the Philippine people and their government recover from this tragedy.”
U.S. wireless subscribers can text AID to 80108 to give a $10 donation to the mGive Philippines Typhoon Disaster Relief Fund.