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I still don't get why the US Navy hasn't put an LHD or equivalent amphibious group into the relief effort -- it would be a great humanitarian thing, plus a show of strength for one of our key Pacific allies after the "pivot to Asia" -- a pretty clear implication that if we can put a battalion ashore to help hours after a hurricane, we can do similar things during a conflict. Extra points due to the huge number of USN sailors who come from the Philippines. It would be a super-cheap way to build US credibility in the region, help people, and deter future conflict.

Plus it would help solve the military "boredom" problem: http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2013/11/after-war-budget-cut...

Chances are, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (the USS Essex is an LHD 2) will be responding. One of the main missions of the 31st MEU is humanitarian aid in the event of natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region. Depending on where all the ships are and what they're currently doing, it shouldn't take too long for them to get there. I was on the 31st MEU back when the cyclones hit in Myanmar, and our response was very quick. Unfortunately, we sat off the coast of Myanmar for about two weeks waiting to help, but the government in Myanmar wouldn't allow us to.

I imagine they will. About the time the hurricane was about to hit, Aquino assured the world that the Philippines would be ready and that even one casualty would be too much.

Currently there are areas which are completely isolated. After the hurricane passed, there was no way to know the status of these areas. There is no functioning communication for these people.

Just yesterday the headlines started out with something like "8 confirmed dead" then it went up to "100 confirmed dead" and of course now the numbers are exploding. Getting a solid grasp on the level of destruction and which areas need the most help takes time.

I'm seeing that the Philippines is starting to put out the call for help. I imagine that call will be answered.

I too was shocked. I went to work and the official number was below 100, I was floored to say the least to come home and discover the revised figure. It is absolutely insane, although in retrospect, I had hoped the country would be somewhat be better prepared and avoid such a huge number of lives lost, yet a small part of me expected it. I mean, one of, if not THE strongest storm in history? Hitting the south of the country? Sigh.

They've deployed ships.

I took part in the 2008 humanitarian relief det when Typhoon Fengshen hit land, and our response time was about seven hours from the time we got the phone call and had planes and helos on the ground delivering supplies and providing medical care.

Those response times are largely based on how quickly we can get supplies from USAID, and receive an actual request for assistance.

It does not make sense for the government/Navy to have disaster relief ships on high alert (like the Marines are for example). The cost of maintaining that high alert status is high and the money would be much better spent nearly providing a lot more (but a little less timely) aid and support. I am sure the Navy will help, just maybe not today or tomorrow.

Right now the problem actually seems to be logistics. You can use the Marines as first responders -- what you need are helicopters and landing craft, fuel, power, comms, food, and water, which are exactly what a combat force uses in an assault as well. By downloading weapons, they could take extra supplies for civilians, and their own support.

The deterrence point of doing it instantly is that you can show just how fast and how hard an amphibious force can deploy. That's pretty much the only value of an amphibious force like the doctrinal mission of the Marines anymore; they'll never do an opposed amphibious landing with a long lead up, due to ATGMs/etc. being so effective.

One of the best things the US Military has ever done for our national security in the war on terror was helping out pretty substantially after the Kashmir 2005 earthquake -- there were helicopters in the air hours after it hit, from the US and UK forces in Afghanistan.

Maybe not on high alert continuously, but with satellites now, they must have seen this hurricane coming for days if not weeks.

Nobody has mentioned Subic Bay Naval base with respect to the politics of sending in the Navy?


The last time we had ships stationed there, admittedly 20 years ago, they were VERY happy to see us go.

Yes, strictly humanitarian and all that, but...

The U.S. Navy makes port call at Subic Bay multiple times per year. I actually made a port call there as recently as 2008. Not to mention:


Even though we don't have any "permanent" bases (which is up for discussion) in the Philippines, we still have very strong military ties with them.

The link says the Marines are deploying from Okinawa.

"it would be a great humanitarian thing, plus a show of strength for one of our key Pacific allies"

Are you suggesting that there is excess money for something like this in the Navy budget? There are an unlimited number of things that we could do to make the world better and we can't do all of them. Like in business you have to undertake a cost/benefit analysis and see if it makes sense then to do or not. Not to mention how many people die in this country that would live if that money was spent here?

We do stupid exercises all the time which use more money than altering a patrol to go to the region and offloading water/food/fuel. The funding could be moved from usaid as well.

In general we should basically do anything do anything less than billions to win over Vietnam, PI, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and show our alliance with SK, Japan, and Taiwan, and build friendship with China. A billion invested in that probably is 10b in expected savings in avoiding future war.

That's an Americentric viewpoint. There's no need to "win over" anybody. If the US wants to regain trust and increase soft power, it should be helping based on genuine altruism and mutual respect, not for underlying political motives.

Don't be silly, even "genuine altruism" is still at best self-serving in the end.

"I do this good thing for you because it makes me feel better about my contribution to the world".

Likewise when the U.S. engaged in the Marshall Plan way back when, there were very obvious ulterior motives for the U.S. (a bulwark against Communist spread, expansion of the U.S. economy to supply our Western European allies, etc.), but that didn't invalidate the actual physical assistance rendered either.

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