By Mario J. Mallari
The Daily Tribune
The United States Pacific Command (Pacom) is considering to base pre-positioned military logistics being withdrawn from war-torn Afghanistan in the Philippines purportedly in support of future disaster response and other contingencies in the Asia-Pacific region.
US Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark McLeod, Pacom’s director of logistics, engineering and security, said the command is currently identifying areas where the US military could pre-position assets for better access during disaster response in the region which is prone to calamities.
McLeod, however, did not say if the assets included military hardware.
“Part of what this office is doing is looking at the options of where we can forward locate humanitarian assistance capabilities in the theater,” McLeod said in an article released by the American Forces Press Service.
“We want to posture them somewhere in the theater that would allow us to react very quickly,” he added.
McLeod noted the difficulty, in terms of financial and operational realities, to pre-position everything needed in a disaster response.
He noted that the Philippines and Singapore offer not only low-cost warehouse space but also good airfield and port access.
At present, the US Defense Department and the US Agency for International Development are working to identify specific assets for possible transfer to the Asia Pacific region.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), for its part, welcomed the US move as a boost to the country’s disaster response capability.
“The pre-positioning plan of the US Pacific Command to the Asia Pacific is a welcome development, especially for countries like the Philippines that are perennially hit by natural disasters and calamities,” said AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr.
“The logistics assets of the USPacom will be of great help in complementing the efforts of the AFP in its humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations,” Burgos added.
“This will also allow for rapid responses and quick reactions to emergency situations brought forth by typhoons, earthquakes, and other natural calamities that frequent the Asia Pacific region,” he also said.
According to McLeod, many materials to be disassembled from expeditionary camps in the U.S. Central Command area of operation – tents, blankets and generators, among them — could be vital in a humanitarian crisis.
The US military official noted the huge number of natural disasters, like earthquake, tsunamis, flooding and volcanic eruptions, that hit the Asia Pacific region every year compared to other parts of the world.
“A preponderance of the natural disasters happen in this theater, so the question is raised: How do you get enough assets out here to support all of the things that happen?” McLeod said.