US military commits air support for Bahamas aid operation

Michael Wilner, Tara Copp, Alex Daugherty, David Smiley and Charles Rabin, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Weather News

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration has requested "airlift and logistics support" from the Defense Department in its urgent support effort for the Bahamas, McClatchy has learned.

The U.S. Agency for International Development formally made the request of the Pentagon on Friday afternoon after conducting aerial and on-the-ground assessments of the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian earlier this week.

"There are multiple U.S. government agencies providing immediate support to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts in The Bahamas," a USAID spokesperson said. "In addition to working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, USAID is working with the Department of Defense and requesting the unique capabilities of United States Northern Command, to provide airlift and logistics support for USAID-led humanitarian response activities."

U.S. Northern Command Chief Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy arrived in the Bahamas on Friday to get an assessment. O'Shaughnessy told reporters on the ground in Nassau that the U.S. military would be adding support.

"We'll continue to beef up, we'll continue to collaborate with the government of the Bahamas," O'Shaughnessy said in front of several U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys that have been added to the rescue effort.

The early priorities would be to clear the airfield on Abaco Island to get aid in, O'Shaughnessy said.


Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas over a 40-hour period, hovering over the island nation with Category 5 winds.

The U.S. was quick to pledge support for the Bahamian government, and sent a team of experts with USAID in the hours after the storm had passed to assess the extent of the damage.

The announcement followed a request from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for the U.S. to commit military assets after he viewed the destruction of the Abaco Islands on Friday morning.

"They're the only ones that have large aircraft and they're experts at moving food and water and logistical support," Rubio said at a Friday afternoon news conference at the U.S. Coast Guard station at Opa-Locka Airport.


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