Counter-Terrorism: Disaster Relief Victories


March 29, 2006: The U.S. is finding that disaster relief is one of the more effective counterterrorism methods available. American forces just withdrew, after six months of helping out earthquake victims in northern Pakistan. While there, American soldiers, marines and civilians flew more than 5,000 helicopter and aircraft sorties, moved in over 15,000 tons of relief supplies, used engineers and their equipment, to move over 40,000 tons of debris. American medical personnel treated over 30,000 patients for earthquake related injuries, as well as many other serious conditions (like vaccinations and chronic conditions.) There were no more than 1,200 U.S. troops involved at any one time, but they got a lot of attention from the local media. Despite all the hateful rhetoric from the pundits and Islamic radicals, most Pakistanis like the United States. Part of that is because so many Pakistanis have kin in the U.S., or want to move there themselves. But then there's also the decades of U.S. movies and TV shows, which leaves a positive impression that critics of America love to hate. The local Islamic radicals have expressed their opinion by denouncing the presence of the U.S. (and NATO) troops, but that had to be done carefully, because the earthquake victims were certainly grateful. The U.S. is still studying the longer term effects of the military relief effort in Indonesia early in 2005, and will be watching what happens in Pakistan as well. But the positive effects thus far have been very encouraging, so much so that the Pentagon is modifying training and organization of some units, to remedy problems encountered during recent relief operations, and making future more easier to carry off, and more effective.


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