U.S. Southern Command on Tuesday directed a team of about 100 military personnel and nine helicopters to Grand Cayman Island, where they will be staged and ready to support U.S. disaster relief operations in the Caribbean if requested by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.
Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti this morning, and the storm is expected to turn to the north-northwest by tomorrow, followed by a northwest turn tomorrow night, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Members from Joint Task Force Bravo and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Southern Command departed Honduras’ Soto Cano Air Base today aboard CH-53E Super Stallion, CH-47 Chinook and UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters. If tasked, they will provide heavy lift support to U.S. disaster assistance missions, officials said.
Joint Task Force Bravo’s mission includes being prepared to support disaster relief operations in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, when directed by Southcom. The Marine task force deployed to Central America in June to serve as a rapid response force during the hurricane season. It was headquartered out of Soto Cano Air Base and was postured to rapidly deploy in support of a disaster relief mission in the region.
“Our country is a compassionate nation with a long history of helping countries impacted by natural disasters like this,” said Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, the Southcom commander. “We’re ready to support USAID, if needed, to save lives, alleviate human suffering and provide aid to those afflicted by this storm.”
Southcom is one of the nation’s six geographically focused unified commands, with responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.