US SENDS 1000 MORE TROOPS TO THE PHILIPPINES

Fox News on November 15, 2013, reported that a week after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, an international aid effort is struggling against clogged airports, blocked roads and a lack of manpower. The U.S military has taken a lead in aid efforts, sending thousands of troops, scores of aircraft and tons of equipment and supplies. Excerpts below:

A report by the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council confirmed 3,621 deaths Friday. Official numbers also included 1,140 missing and 12,166 injured.

Hundreds of international aid workers have created makeshift hospitals and trucked in supplies, while helicopters from a U.S. aircraft carrier brought medicine and water to remote areas.

The Philippine government defended its efforts Friday to deliver assistance to typhoon victims, many of whom have received little or no assistance since the monster storm struck last Friday.

“In a situation like this, nothing is fast enough,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said in Tacloban, most of which was destroyed by the storm. “The need is massive, the need is immediate, and you can’t reach everyone.”

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told The Associated Press that armed forces have set up communication lines and C-130 transport planes are conducting regular flights to Tacloban, the capital of Leyte.

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 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.

Troops are removing bodies near the sea with the help of the Departments of Health, Public Works and Highways. Water filtration systems are also operating in Tacloban and two other towns in Leyte province, the hardest-hit area, Gazmin told reporters.

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.

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— carrying 5,000 crew and more than 80 aircraft. So far, the U.S. military has moved 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.

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