The Responder : Joint Task Force Haiti Newsletter


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The Responder : Joint Task Force Haiti Newsletter
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Joint Task Force Haiti
Joint Task Force Haiti
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THE RESPONDERVol. I, Issue 7 March 6, 2010Telling the Joint Task Force-Haiti storya call to duty Continued on page 3 USNS COMFORT, At Anchor -Alex Larsen, Minister of Health for Haiti, greets MC2 Gessie Exantus, Ships Serviceman, a French Creole translator embarked aboard USNS Comfort. Larsen visited Comfort to thank the crew for the care they provided to the people of Haiti in Thank youU.S. militarys medical role in Haiti declines Country musician Big Kenny performs for troops in HaitiPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Country musician Big Kenny per formed 13 shows for Servicemembers based here. This is actually the second trip to Haiti for William Kenneth Alphin, professionally known as Big Kenny, half of the Country music duo, Big and Rich. He had come down earlier searching for a friend of his who had been staying in the Hotel Montana when the Jan. 12 earthquake rocked the island. Having been here and seeing the disaster that had happened and seeing all of our U.S. forces who had come in to help out and all the aid workers, I was moved to want to come back, said Big Kenny. After being home for a few weeks, I knew that there were so many people who had been down here the whole time and I just wanted to come provide a little musical relief and hopefully bring some smiles and thanks to everyone for being here and helping the Haitian people out, said Big Kenny. needed relief supplies and a team of search and rescue and medical personnel. We came down here with the intention to help, said Big Kenny. Continued on page 2Big Kenny, of the country music duo Big and Rich, performs for Paratroopers with 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, at their forward operating base in Portau-Prince on March 4. Big Kenny traveled to Haiti to thank the soldiers By Spc. A.M. LaVey XVIII Airborne CorpsWASHINGTON It's been a week since the last Haitian patient was treated aboard the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, as the need for immediate medical attention is declin ing two months after a magnitude 7 earthquake struck the island nation, the Joint Task Force-Haiti surgeon said. "The Comfort currently has no Haitian patients aboard," Army Col. (Dr.) Jennifer Menetrez told bloggers March 4 during a DoDLive bloggers roundtable. "The last patient was discharged from the Comfort on Feb. 27." The hospital beds and hallways of the Comfort are now empty of Haitian patients, Menetrez said. Meanwhile, she said, the Comfort remains on station to provide any follow-on care as needed by the Haitian government. By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg


The Responder is an electronic newsletter distributed by the JTF-H PAO. All photos are Department of Defense unless otherwise credited. The Responder is an electronic newsletter published every Wednesday and Saturday for the Soldiers, Sailors, Coast Guardsmen, Airmen and Marines of JTF-Haiti.Commander JTF-Haiti Lt. Gen. P. K. (Ken) Keen Command Senior Enlisted Advisor JTF-Haiti Sgt. Maj. Louis M. Espinal JTF-Haiti Public Affairs Senior Enlisted Advisor Sgt. Maj. Sharon Opeka Responder Staff: Editor Sgt. Richard Andrade Public Affairs Specialist Spc. A.M. LaVey The editor can be reached at The Responder tent, by phone: 797-7009 and or by email: THE RESPONDERTelling the Joint Task Force-Haiti story a call to dutyPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Seven weeks after the earthquake that rocked the nation of Haiti, the Joint Task Force Haiti prepares to readjust its forces as the Government of Haiti and non-governmental organizations exercise more and more control over relief and reconstructions efforts here today. If you would have been here Jan. 15, like I was, you would have seen a shocked population, roads that were clogged, an was not operational, said Col. Gregory Kane, director of operations for the JTF-H. There was a massive amount of aid trying to get in to the country, and we had very little synchronization. Now, we have a great deal of synchronization and coordination amongst the Haitian government and the many agencies assisting, said Kane. The Department of Defense is still providing some support but much less then what we have been. sponse, American forces numbered 20,000 and they were responding to about 2,000 incidents a day; today there are about half the number of troops here, and they are responding to under a hundred incidents per day. These numbers show two things: that the demand is down and that the Government of Haiti and the relief agencies are taking on the bulk of the response, said Kane. U.S. elements remain in Haiti, supporting both the needs of the United Nations and the host government. The JTF-H is continuing to work large projects in conjunction with its international partners and the U.S. Agency for International Development. These projects include ruble removal from urban areas and the resettlement of prior to the rainy season. U.S. forces are also continuing to provide indirect support to the World Food Program by helping to bring supplies in to the Port-au-Prince area. We will continue to resize our force based on the mission param eters that we are given, said Kane. We have received approval to start redeployment, and that will continue for the next two weeks. We will still have a considerable force in Haiti, about 4,500 personnel, but they will be more logistically-oriented, he said. By Spc. A. M. LaVeyXVIII Airborne CorpsHumanitarian supplies were off-loaded from the Venezuelan ship LST AB Capana where more than 250 tons of supplies were delivered during a three JTF-H readies to readjust as other nations employ reconstruction efforts "Over the last 10 days, we've seen over a 65 percent reduction in patients onboard the [Comfort] as they have been appropriately transferred to local hospitals for follow-on care," she added. This follow-on care is being supported by the numer ous mobile and on-site clinics that have been set up to give continued treatment to victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake. "To date, there are 130 mobile clinics and 156 on-site clinics," We will also have a small-sized maneu ver element to deal with any contingencies be they natural disaster or otherwise. The reduction in forces, like what is happening here around the two-month mark, is normal in a humanitarian operation such as this, with the military assets providing immediate response, bringing with them many different capabilities, and then transferring more and more responsibilities to the local government and NGOs. At this point, the work that our partners are doing continues to grow and the Haitian government is becoming more However, we will continue to support them as long as we are needed. Menetrez said. "The collaboration between military, government of Haiti and [U.S. Agency for International Development] contin ues to be wonderful. Collaboration between all parties has been Since the Comfort arrived on station, she said, U.S. military medical personnel have provided care to more than 8,600 Haitian residents. "Of the 8,600 patients seen, the U.S. military surgeons per formed close to 1,000 surgeries, primary care physicians conducted over 7,200 outpatient visits and oversaw the care of 1,300 for post surgical care within the hospital wards," Menetrez said. Medical role continued from page 1


landings each day. ing vendors to bring in equipment and proincrease their operational capability. "I believe we are here making a differ ence," Beaty said. "So often we train to defend our country or work with coalition partners to liberate or defend other countries, but it is good to put the same training toward the good of the Haitian commu nity." Recently the team conducted a three-day aircraft egress exercise. They used an old Boeing 727 on the ramp as their training mock up. Through an interpreter, they were able to coordinate a single plan for emer gency response between the Haitian and His team provided relief at the Hotel Montana, assisted at a nursages and schools. Big Kenny is no stranger to helping others in need. In 2005 he became aware of the incidents that were happening in Darfur, Suand musical instruments. Love everybody. That is the motto that he lives by, preaches and is also what motivates Big Kenny to help. This is what my heart tells me to do. I dont have no choice, Kenny. If Ive got something I want to do something with it. Big Kenny is here in Haiti, serving those who dedicate their lives to serving others. I just want [the Servicemembers] to know, as a performer and as a citizen, I appreciate what you are doing and I want to encourage you all to keep up the good work, said Big Kenny.Big Kenny continued from page 1PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Country musician Big Kenny performs a duet with Staff Sgt. Ryan A. Shilling, a wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 98th Civil Affairs Battalion, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, during a concert for Servicemembers based in Haiti at the American Embassy here Mar. 2. Big Kenny is scheduled to perform SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -Twenresources alongside thousands of other international aid workers providing relief to the country. sure as the search for remains continues. "Soon after landing in Haiti and setting asked us if we could assist with searching for bodies at the Hotel Montana," said Master Sgt. Bradley Beaty, from Scott Air Force Base, Ill. It was important to us that we assist in that effort." To date, the team has recovered the remains of 15 Americans and the remains of others who were part of the estimated 50 known guests who are still missing at the Hotel Montana. "I can't describe how awful it is to go through this type of wreckage," he said. "It's an emotional job, but I am glad that at least we are able to give families closure by locating their loved ones." several issues at the Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince support 20,000 coalition forces and provide resources for the 140 aircraft takeoff and By Karen Petittinternational forces assisting them. "I feel that we're making a positive difference down here," said Airman Mike Palatucci, from Dover AFB, Del., "The department really appreciates the training we've done." "We have only been here for a short time, and I honestly feel that we have made an impact on the local community; from helping clean up the city to training the local airport," said Staff Sgt. Thomas Sidoti, assigned to Joint Base McGuire Dix Lake hurst, N.J. We may not be able to stay that long to help the infrastructure of the city, but I feel we are doing the best we can in the short amount of time that we have." Boeing 727 aircraft during an exercise at the Toussaint L'Ouverture


4Continued on page 5 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -The Naval Facilities Engineering Command partnered with U.S. Navy Seabees, Air Force and Army engineers to assess the rising water levels affecting a main supply route between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Yasil Elmayta, a civil engineer, and Mike Helbing, an environmental engineer, both of the contingency engineer ing group from NAVFAC, are working side by side with U.S. forces engineering elements in Haiti to help repair the damage caused by the Jan. 12 earthquake. This road runs along several lakes that dont have a natural outlet to them, said Helbing. As a result of that, during the rainy season, the water tends to come up and cut the supply link to the Dominican Republic. We go to assess the structural damage of buildings; we have looked at where landsides have come and crossed roads, and we came up with solutions civil engineer working with the NAV FAC group to make assessments of the roads and plan reconstruction operations. We are looking at the water level of the Trou Caiman Lake, as it affects the road that we call Route 102, said Killian. If the water level comes up too high on the we will lose the ability to use that road. it is the main artery to get supplies in from the Dominican Republic, he said. Part of the engineer mission in Haiti is to assess structural damage, and give that information to the Government of Haiti so that there can be coordinated plans to the U.S., there are safety laws and codes for anyone who wants to build a house or building. Unfortunately Haiti does not have regulations that might stop someone from building a house with inferior components. We [in the U.S.] are used to using a crushed aggregate, because it locks together and works better in concrete mixes, here [in Haiti] they use a lot of river rock, that is readily available, and unfortunate ly doesnt lock together, said Killian. You dont necessarily want to make ly need to, you have the opportunity to make something that will last and you can say its done, that is the way Engineers assess rising water level of Haitian lakes By Sgt. Richard AndradeXVIII Airborne CorpsU.S. Navy Lt. Jason Killian, Yasil El mayta, and Mike Helbing, of the contingency engineering group from The Naval Facilities Engineering Command partnered with U.S. engineers to assess the rising water levels affect ing a main supply route between the U.S. Navy Lt. Jason Killian, Yasil Elmayta, a civil engineer, and Mike Helbing, an environmental engineer, both of the contingency engineering group from The Naval Facilities Engineering Command partnered with U.S. Navy Seabees, Air Force and Army engineers to assess the rising water levels affecting a main supply route between the Dominiyou want to proceed, said Helbing. We are looking for a route that we can run cargo tractor trailers on, so you need to have a decent road that can handle the capacity and doesnt have a lot of big holes in it, with all of that weight you are going to destroy the vehicles, if the water begins to cross the road, then you will lose that artery, said Killian. As the engineers reached Etang Saumatre lake, they saw how close the water reached the road. Without some type of real elabo rate ditch or pipe system there is no way to pull that water out of that lake, said Killian. The other alternative is raising the road, said Helbing. Gabriel Sagesse,75, lives in the city of Trou Caiman. He took the engineers to a side of a mountain where he claims water has been coming out since after the Jan. 12 earthquake. The water turned from a blessing the nearby homes and roads non-stop. It is coming from both sides of the city, inundating peoples homes, said Sagesse. For them to solve the problem, they need to send it somewhere that needs it more, he said, It is not good at all, it


5Engineers continued from page 4WASHINGTON As part of the Defense Logistics Agency's ongoing support to humanitarian operations in earthquakestricken Haiti, the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia recently supplied 2.7 mil lion packaged meals to the Haitian people. The center worked with its industry partners to supply the meals to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which joined with the World Food Program to distribute the meals in the hardest-hit areas of the country. In addition to being DLA's troop support center, the Philadelphia center also gencies and natural disasters. The supply center maintains a stock of meals that can be used in emergencies, and also has agreements in place with its industry partners to produce meals, explained Ray Miller, deputy director of subsistence operations. These industry partners about 20 vendors are ready to go at a moment's notice, and often can provide millions of meals in just days, he said. In the case of the earthquake in Haiti, Agency supplies millions of meals for Haitians By Sgt. Sara Moore is dangerous because the rainy season is coming and so far we have seen no help. solution for the villagers as they left the town. There is no way to plug the hole so you have to make a controlled ditch somewhere, said Killian. You have to its path to the lake and out to the sea. If the hydroelectric plant is low, then that would be a big deal, issues like a reduction There is so much other information that we have to gather, said Helbing. From historical records of the lake levels both here and at the dam and rainfall information it is a complicated probAll of the research being conducted by the engineers, the state department together with the Government of Haiti will be used in the future to develop solutions for the many issues Haiti is dealing with. U.S. Navy Lt. Jason Killian, of the contingency engineering group from The Naval Facilities Engineering Command looks over a map of the area he is assessing. He has partnered with U.S. Navy Seabees, Air Force and Army engineers to assess the rising water levels affecting a main supply route between a request to supply meals to USAID, then ment. Even though it was a Sunday night, Miller said, the vendors responded that same night and through the next morning. Through this partnership, more than 2 mil lion meals were available immediately to the center, and 22 million meals could have been sent over the next 15 days if needed, he said. When USAID decided to use only what was readily available, the center shipped out 2.7 million meals, Miller said. DLA is positioned to respond during emergencies, and over the years has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide relief after hurricanes and other disasters, Miller said. DLA buys and ships packaged meals to FEMA, which stores or sends them to individual states, he explained. DLA also maintains its supply of meals for emergencies at the Philadelphia center. "Between [DLA and FEMA], that is the only stock of food that is maintained in the United States for an emergency basis," he said. "We have the program set up that should a disaster hit, we are able then to tap into the industrial base to expand the avail ability of meals as we go on over time." Sailors aboard USNS Comfort work together to safely store supplies received from the Military Sealift Command supply ship USNS Sacagawea. The supplies will allow Comfort to sustain efforts in sup


POSTCARDS FROM HAITI Lance Cpl. Alfred, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, shares a laugh with some children in the town of Mirebalais, Haiti, during a disaster relief assessment of the area today. Alfred is of U.S. Army Spc. Anthony Gonzales 114 Signal Battalion, Fort Detrick, Md. makes friends with some Haitian children outside of Logistical Support Area Dragon. He is here to provide communicaMusician Jimmy Buffet performs for servicemembers based at Logistical Support Area Dragon who are sup