By Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez, JTF-505 Public Affairs
UTAPAO ROYAL THAI NAVY AIRFIELD, Thailand -- In support of Operation Sahayogi Haat, U.S. Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines are ensuring humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies and personnel are moving smoothly in and out of Nepal at an intermediate staging base at Utapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield, Thailand.
At the ISB, Joint Task Force-505 personnel monitor satellite and radio communications with other JTF-505 components throughout the region, and support air operations to ensure the government and people of Nepal receive the support they need to help recover from the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the mountainous country April 25.
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael Minihan, the JTF-505 Joint Air Component Coordination Element commander, explained the role of the mission in Thailand, and highlighted its importance to the overall Nepal earthquake relief mission.
"We've set up an intermediate staging base that can help airpower and airlift, specifically U.S. Marine and Air Force air [capabilities], and rapidly move those unique capabilities in and out of Nepal," Minihan said. "This JTF-505 is significant because it shows that the partnerships in this region are important, and all the exercises and engagements that we do throughout this region have a real-world application so that when an incident happens like the earthquake in Nepal, we can rapidly come together ... and instantly have a positive impact and do what we need to do for the government and the people of Nepal."
The JTF-505 mission in Thailand has been able to move tons of cargo and hundreds of support personnel into Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal and a region significantly impacted by the earthquake.
Additionally, Royal Thai Armed Forces work with the JTF-505 at the ISB to coordinate earthquake relief support with the Thai government.
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matthew Youngblood, JTF-505 JACCE officer in charge, said working jointly with the other services and the Thai government has been important to the earthquake relief mission.
"It has been an exceptional experience working with our service counterparts, and we look forward to continuing cooperation with the Thai government, and our continued services' support to the people of Nepal," Youngblood said.
U.S. Pacific Command activated JTF 505 on 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 a timely and thorough response to requests by the government of Nepal.