On Nov. 8, Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines. The storm, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, was one of the largest typhoons on record, with estimates of the dead in the thousands and of the displaced in the millions. The United States acted quickly to help its ally, but some senior lawmakers and military officials worry that in the age of sequestration U.S. capabilities to carry out such operations in the future may deteriorate.
The U.S. response in the Philippines has been “rapid and decisive,” according to Renato DeCastro of De La Salle University in Manila. He explained in an email interview that the initial response was carried out with the assistance of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), but “when the huge extent of the of the human casualties and material damage became apparent,” U.S. Pacific Command mobilized military assets to provide additional assistance to the Philippine government, which “has limited capability in dealing with this type of calamity,” said DeCastro.
Perhaps most notably, Pacific Command’s effort involved mobilizing the USS George Washington, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with a crew of thousands and one of 10 vessels of its class in the U.S. fleet. The mobilization was “a turning point in the relief operations,” DeCastro said. The carrier has served as a platform for delivering fresh water and other supplies to stranded civilians on land, including from Marine Corps aircraft. According to a USAID fact sheet, the U.S. has provided over $37 million in humanitarian assistance to the Philippines since the typhoon hit.