Thursday, May 15, 2008

More on Relief

I posted yesterday on the United States' readiness to assist in any gloabl disaster, regardless of the friendliness of the subject nation (and equally regardless of the thanklessness this readiness to assist usually garners). Today, on the United States Navy's official site was a reminder that today is the anniversay of the Navy's arrival in Bangladesh after the 1991 Cyclone Marian disaster.

For those who may not remember Cyclone Marian (it was not well covered in the US media, probably because it reflected well on the US military, and once again there was a Republican President- can't give him any credit with an election year coming up!) the cyclone hit Bangladesh in April of 1991, and according to this story at,
Cyclone Marian (29-30 April 1991) was one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in recent times. Marian's 140 mile-per-hour winds and an eight-meter tidal wave devastated Bangladesh, killing nearly 140,000 people and leaving over 5 million people homeless.
Cyclone Marian struck this delta on the southeast coast during the evening of 29 April 1991 with winds in excess of 235 km/hr and tidal surges between 15 and 20 feet. Well over 100,000 people died and millions were left homeless. Over 1 million cattle (essential for pulling plows and providing transportation) died. Crops on 74,000 acres of land were destroyed; another 300,000 acres of cropland were damaged, and fields were covered with salt water, contaminating the soil and corrupting the drinking water.

Infrastructure destruction was widespread. Bangladesh’s major port, Chittagong, was severely damaged and was nonoperational for several days. Damaged/sunken ships, many of them belonging to the Bangladeshi Navy, blocked the port. Several key bridges, including the main bridge to Chittagong, were washed out or otherwise damaged. Throughout the storm-affected area, sea walls collapsed, jetties disappeared, dirt roads were flooded, buildings were ravaged, and transportation was virtually destroyed.

Bangladesh asked for help, and within 24 hours, again according to, the United States was able to respond, sending elements of the III Marine Expeditionary Force, Amphibious Group 3 and 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade to assist. Untimately the operation, code-named Sea-Angel, would involve over 6000 US personnel. In a unique feature, no personnel were armed save for guards of sensitive material. All other personnel went unarmed for the duration of the exercise.

For those who like to lament the 'belligerent' nature of the US armed services, this may serve as a reminder that US servicement and women are not the baby-killers so much of the Left likes to paint them as, and the United States' ability to project power is as useful for relief operations as it is for those of a more aggressive nature. In addition, although Bangladesh is much closer to China and Russia than it is to the United States, it was the US that did the bulk of the heavy lifting, not the CHinese or the Russians.

In any event, this will hopefully serve as one more reminder that the US, despite her many critics, stands ready to assist where other nations and organizations either cannot or will not. I do not expect this to register with the blame-America-first crowd, but perhaps it might remind more rational souls that the United States and her military are not the evil monster the Left and their fellow-travelers in the media so often make us out to be.

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