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Military support to harvey relief

Soldiers assigned to C Company, 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 35th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade move vehicles and equipment onto a C-17 Globemaster III to deploy to Texas in support of the Hurricane Harvey relief effort.

Military Support to Harvey Relief

Having seen extreme weather events like Hurricane Harvey in the past, I can both sympathize and empathize with the citizens of East Texas. In 1991, a storm very much like Harvey devastated eastern Bangladesh killing thousands and displacing millions; these storms are called Cyclones in South Asia and Typhoons in the Pacific. I was the Director of Plans and Operations (J-3) for Joint Task Force Sea Angel which was the American Humanitarian assistance/disaster Relief (HA/DR) response organization deployed to assist the Bangladesh government in responding to the catastrophe which exceeded Harvey is scope and fury. Used correctly, military support can be critical to early success.

Bangladesh is much more populous than East Texas; consequently, the human death toll was infinitely greater, but the lessons that we learned there were applicable. One of the first lessons was that we initially thought our biggest American military contributions would be mobile hospitals and quick delivery of food supplies (the infamous Meals Ready to Eat). We quickly found that trauma injuries were not the largest source of casualties. Most immediate deaths were caused by drowning, and the trauma capabilities of American Hospital ships and MASH-like surgery units were underused. The real American contribution was helicopters, landing craft, and communications.

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