Joint Task Force 505 coordinates military relief efforts in Nepal
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The U.S. military is playing a crucial role in the "whole-government" approach toward humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in support of the government and armed forces of Nepal following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake April 25.
U.S. Pacific Command activated Task Force 505 May 1 to work closely with the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, and other U.S. agencies to ensure continued, timely and swift responses to requests by the Government of Nepal. The task force is led by U.S. Marine Lt. Gen. John Wissler, III Marine Expeditionary Force commander on Okinawa.
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael A. Minihan, commander of the task force's Joint Air Component Coordination Element, transited this week to Nepal through Kadena Air Base, where members of the18th Wing continue to facilitate the movement of needed personnel and supplies. Minihan explained that the task force will use its strengths, including outstanding joint air assets, to help coordinate and conduct military relief efforts as needed.
"We are going to harness all of those capabilities," Minihan said. "We're going to get it going in one solid direction for the people of Nepal, and then use air power to rapidly bring that aid into the country."
He said the task force's command and control capabilities, along with its ability to integrate with other organizations, will help get that aid outward to where the people who have been devastated by the earthquake need it most.
Minihan said the U.S. military assets already on the ground in Nepal, including Okinawa-based U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Ospreys, are currently focused on getting aid from the international airport in Nepal's capital of Kathmandu to hard-to-reach areas across the country.
He stressed that coordination with Nepal's government and the other U.S. agencies is key to mission success.
"The joint aspect of this operation is the most critical," he said. "When we can work together and perform ... then the people of Nepal benefit and we show that we understand the issue there and we are working toward a common goal."
He also said the joint work already showcased on Okinawa helps illustrate the strength of the task force.
"We've brought forward some air and space capabilities, we're able to easily integrate with the Marine Corps function here and all the different military organizations to instantly provide that joint answer to a problem set that requires a joint solution," Minihan said.
He said that Kadena's Airmen continue to play a big role in the Nepal efforts.
"Being here, forward deployed, being close to where we need to be with all the capabilities that Kadena has to offer, from airlift to air refueling ... the full spectrum of air power can be brought to bear from this single base," Minihan said. "It's vitally important."
Joint Task Force 505 will continue to support Nepal's government as long as needed.