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Florida Reserve base playing vital role in transporting relief supplies and people into Haiti

by Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Defense Media Activity

1/20/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida is playing a vital role in moving essential medical supplies, equipment and military support to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, said the commander of Air Force Reserve Command.

Homestead is important to the Haiti relief effort because of its strategic location, Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr. told bloggers and online journalists during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable Jan. 19.

"Reserve aircrews have flown 57 missions in support of Operation Unified Response, and the pace of activity is very likely to increase in the weeks and days to come," General Stenner said. " The Reserve aircraft are transporting people, supplies and equipment to staging areas and into the country of Haiti, and they're bringing American citizens home as well."

The general said Air Force Reserve assets have delivered an estimated 650,000 pounds of cargo and 137 pallets, and have brought 1,600 American citizens back to the United States.

"We have a 920th Rescue Wing helicopter crew that's standing by if necessary," he said.

When a natural disaster or emergency situation occurs, like in Haiti, General Stenner said "it's very easy to react quickly from that site. I think we anticipate a significant and continuing role for Homestead Air Reserve Base as the mission evolves."

Homestead ARB, the general said, has been serving as a secondary aerial port of embarkation. Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., is serving as the primary.

More than 580 Airmen, active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve are playing an important part in the joint efforts in Haiti.

The general said the biggest readiness challenges currently facing the Air Force Reserve are sustaining and maintaining the tempo while providing support to both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"The tempo does require our folks to deploy on a frequent, sustained and predictable basis," he said. "We are, in fact, part of that three-component Air Force, and ready and able to do that."

General Stenner added that history has proven that when these types of natural disasters occur, the United States will respond with help regardless of where it is in the world.

"When you look at the kinds of things that have happened with the recent hurricanes, when you look at the relief efforts in the Caribbean that have happened over the last decade or so, our folks know and call immediately to put their name on a list," he said.

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