November 23, 2007:
typhoon in Bangladesh left thousands dead and millions homeless, or flooded
out. So the U.S. Navy promptly diverted two amphibious ships (carrying 32 heavy
CH-46 and 53 helicopters, as well as 3,500 marines) towards the devastated areas.
Bangladesh has not requested help, but since the U.S. Navy quickly went to the
aid of Indonesian tsunami victims two years ago, everyone in the region knows
about the U.S. Navy's and Marine Corp's kinder, gentler, humanitarian aid side.
The Indonesian operation was very popular with the recipients, and provided
great PR for the U.S. and the troops. In practical terms, the helicopters are
invaluable for moving relief supplies, and injured people, especially to remote
areas that are difficult to reach by land routes. The ships also have extensive
hospital facilities. The two ships won't reach Bangladesh until November 24th,
giving the Bangladeshi government time to decide if they want the help.
Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in Bangladesh sent a team of 23 U.S. Marines to the
southern coast of Bangladesh, to see how the U.S. naval task force could be
used. In that area, containing about three million people, over half the crops
were destroyed and thousands are badly injured. Roads have been destroyed and
many villages have still not been heard from.