The U.S. Air Force, noting the
good will the U.S. Navy received for showing up quickly at several recent
natural disasters, has built its own humanitarian quick reaction force. The 3rd
Air Force has been revived and equipped with a special force of six C-130
transports. These, along with 100 personnel and a hundred tons of relief
supplies, can be on their way within 16 hours of being asked. It used to take
much longer. But time is of the essence in most natural disasters.
Another problem needing assistance is the
bottleneck created at the few working airports in a disaster area. The 3rd Air
Force will provide help in unscrambling that as well. The air force has
developed quick response air control teams, which can go into place where large
aircraft can land, and quickly set up the radio and radar needed to make the
air traffic control work.
The 3rd Air Force is expecting to support the new
Africa Command (AFRICOM) as well as the older European Command (EUCOM). While
waiting for the next disaster, 3rd Air Force is developing working
relationships with the major NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations, like the Red
Cross and such), and nations that might be needing help in the future.
These peacekeeping functions are only a small part
of what the 3rd Air Force does. Its 25,000 personnel and 200 aircraft are
mainly devoted to supporting possible combat operations in Europe.