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Fort Detrick Soldiers deploy to support Haiti relief

Jan 21, 2010

By Nicholas A. Minecci (Army Medicine (Fort Detrick))

A team of Soldiers from the 6th Medical Logistics Management Center here deployed Sunday to Miami to augment the U.S. Southern Command headquarters as medical logistics planners for Operation Unified Response, the U.S. military's humanitarian mission to assist the victims of last week's earthquake in Haiti.

According to Sgt. 1st Class Terrance E. Alligood, one of the Soldiers deployed, the short notice deployment is, "akin to a standard temporary duty status at this point. Reaction time from notification to actual deployment was very short; however, the 6th MLMC posture is that we must have teams ready to go at a moment's notice," he said.

The mission of the service members involved in Unified Response, according to Alligood, is a vast one. "[The] U.S. Department of Defense forces are part of a larger U.S. response to the Government of Haiti request for humanitarian aid. SOUTHCOM is working with the Department of State, USAID, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and others to aggressively provide life-sustaining services to the people of Haiti," he said.

Alligood added, "Our team has been providing coverage to support any requirements or tasks handed to us, along with the overarching task of Medical Logistics planning. This proves challenging and requires some very long days."

But "the integration into the SOUTHCOM command structure was virtually seamless. There are great people here doing great things to assemble the folks necessary to do the mission," Alligood added.

With the huge amounts of personnel and material moving to Haiti to help the victims, Alligood said the mission is not too different from what a MEDLOG planner does if they are deployed to a combat zone. "A MEDLOG planner identifies a supported customer base, works with service components to forecast medical supply requirements, and organizes a medical supply chain capable of handling requirements from across a theater of operations.

"While a humanitarian mission does allow us a chance to build partnerships with agencies not found in the [U.S. Central Command] area, the MEDLOG planner mission is virtually the same regardless of location," he said.

"Of course, the situation at SOUTHCOM is different from our daily operations at Ft. Detrick. However, the planning factors that go into forecasting MEDLOG requirements and bringing the supplies and equipment to the providers are usually standard with only slight deviations based off of factors on the ground and the types of customers we support," he said.

As for being part of such a huge mission, Alligood said, "Our hearts go out to the Haitian people and all those affected by this devastating earthquake. We are honored to be a part of this mission."

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