By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Aug. 19, 2010 - U.S. forces continue to provide aid and aerial support to millions of Pakistanis hit hard by the monsoon floods, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said here today.
Whitman reiterated that the United States is responding to requests from the Pakistani government. "We have provided everything that Pakistan has asked for and [that] they feel would be helpful in this operation," he said.
In the last 24 hours, U.S. helicopters rescued another 187 people and delivered about another 50,000 pounds of relief supplies, Whitman said. Fifteen American helicopters from the USS Peleliu are operating in Pakistan. The Peleliu is in international waters off Pakistan.
Air Force C-130s were active, transporting a little more than 175,000 pounds of relief goods. The C-130s are based in Afghanistan and fly daily into Rawalpindi, Pakistan, where they pick up relief supplies and deliver them to Pakistani officials at various airports.
Local Pakistani officials are in charge of distributing the relief goods, Whitman said. The four areas that the aircraft supplied today were Sukkura, Jacocobad, Quetta and Multan.
Overall, since Aug. 5, U.S. helicopters have rescued almost 5,000 Pakistanis and delivered 634,000 pounds of relief supplies. Since they began operating Aug. 16, C-130s have transported about 269,000 pounds of supplies.
Whitman called the U.S. commitment to Pakistan robust and pegged the total contributions at about $96 million. But the operation is still in its early phases, he said.
"This operation is ongoing, and I suspect there will be additional assistance rendered," Whitman said. The monsoon rains continue in Pakistan, and more than 20 million people are affected by the disaster. United Nations officials expect that the waters won't begin to ebb until September.
More than 1,500 Pakistanis have died since the floods of the Indus River and its tributaries began July 29.
"These are things that have impact, not just for weeks or months, but for years – perhaps for decades," Whitman said. "These are disasters that have impact well beyond alleviating the immediate suffering, and the immediate humanitarian assistance."
The long-term effects cannot be known, he added, and may have an effect on the security situation in the country.