On April 16, 2016 a series of earthquakes struck the island nation of Japan, killing at least 44 people and injuring an estimated 3,000. In the wake of this natural disaster, the United States military has responded by sending relief aid to Japan.
In a statement to the press, the Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed that the U.S. military was providing assistance to the Japanese with its MV-22 Osprey transport helicopters, as well as one UC-35 Citation aircraft and three C-130 transport aircraft. The military is using these aircraft to help move the Japan Self-Defense Forces and their equipment throughout the battered region. An estimated 44,000 Japanese residents have been displaced by the recent earthquakes, straining local officials and their resources.
Throughout Japan and the world, governments are calling for a Defense Support of Civil Authorities, which would allow individual commanders to offer immediate response to communities for life-saving needs for up to 72 hours. Long story short, several governments, including Japan and the U.S., want to be given the authority to assist countries in their recovery efforts without waiting for an official government-to-government request. This would essentially allow for faster relief efforts, which could in turn save lives.
“We understand that the necessity of speed is critical in a situation like this so we placed our forces in the best position to provide support as needed,” Col. Romin Dasmalchi, commander of the 31st MEU, said in a news release. “The Japanese government is more than capable of providing relief, but we don’t want to miss an opportunity to provide support if needed to the Japanese citizens affected by the earthquake.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that the U.S. military has offered relief to victims of natural disasters overseas, nor will it be the last. Operation Unified Assistance involves the U.S. military’s relief aid response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. According to Wikipedia, a total of 12,600 DoD personnel were involves in the relief effort, delivering medical aid, beds, water, food and other necessities. The Indian Ocean tsunami was one of the most deadly natural disasters on record, killing an estimated 230,000 people in 14 countries. It brought dozens of countries together to assist with relief efforts, including the U.S. military.
Relief aid missions such as the recent mission for Japan’s earthquake victims and the Operation Unified Assistance are vital for humanitarian purposes.
You can learn more about the U.S. military’s relief efforts in Japan by visiting the official DoD website at http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/723529/us-military-aids-japanese-in-earthquake-aftermath.