The Ground Truth Puerto Rico
A Real Perspective On Real Relief Efforts From Someone Who Is Really There
David Reeder – Cover Image by Carolyn Cole/LA Times/Polaris
Never, ever, did I think we’d be quoting the Huffington Post, but here we are. They’ve published an article that directly counters ongoing criticism of relief efforts after Hurricane Maria.
This is the truth on the ground in Puerto Rico. It’s plain as balls on a bulldog if you care to look.
“As a Puerto Rican, I can tell you that the problem has nothing to do with the U.S. military, FEMA, or the DoD. The aid is getting to Puerto Rico. The problem is distribution. The federal government has sent us a lot of help; moving those supplies, in particular, fuel, is the issue right now.” Col. Michael A. Valle, 101 ASOG
Col. Michael A. “Torch” Valle is OIC of at least one element of Hurricane Maria relief efforts. His formal billet is Director JACCE (Joint Air Component Coordination Element), 101st Air and Space Operations Group, 1st Air Force. He is from Puerto Rico and spoke while working in Puerto Rico.
It’s reasonable to think he is a reliable source of information about operations on the island — certainly more so than a pundit half a continent away.
According to his and many other reports, the greatest challenge to relief efforts in Puerto Rico is distribution, not supplies, materiel, or manpower. The road network is in tatters. Harbor facilities have been wrecked. There are limits to what rotary air assets can deliver, and there’s only so much physical space for the rescuers themselves.
Let’s look at what’s actually happening. There are 2/6 Marines from the 26th MEU conducting route clearance to open roads. There are cargo aircraft from all over NORTHCOM in constant rotation to the island. A hospital ship and other USN and USCG vessels are on the way to join those already there. Medical teams are being flown in by helos of the 101st. Generators, food, and other materiel is marshaled at Pope Army Air Field after being brought in from as far away as California by the 22nd Airlift Squadron. Canadian Air Force CC-177s are hauling mobile AM/FM/SMS radio broadcasting stations in so FEMA can disseminate information. Urban SAR personnel of the NYPD and FDNY are on the ground.
Think about that. Set aside Carmen Cruz’s histrionics. Grasp the scale of what is in motion. You can’t just miracle food, power, and medicine in. You need basic infrastructure and time.
This is about logistics and pragmatism. It shouldn’t be something partisan opportunists use to portray governmental/DoD failure unless there’s governmental/DoD failure — and if there is failure, then it needs to be corrected because people need help, not to score political points. A lot of people have pounced on the opportunity to criticize the Trump administration’s orchestration of relief efforts like a duck on a junebug, by most reports completely unfairly…and that accomplishes what for the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, exactly?
Demagoguery, which isn’t unique to either side of the aisle, is rarely if ever constructive. In this particular case it’s a completely unnecessary and shameful distraction to what ought to be a non-partisan surge of sympathy and support.
Read the original Huffpost story in its entirety right here.
You can stay current on the DoD’s relief efforts here on the Department of Defense website: https://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/DoD-Hurricane-Relief/.
NORTHCOM is posting updates frequently on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NoradNorthcom.
Track what FEMA has to say here: https://www.fema.gov/hurricane-maria
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About the Author: It might not be too surprising that David Reeder, who never met a $50 word he didn’t like, one of the “leaders” of the pedagogic and frequently obstreperous Breach Bang Clear team — insomuch as they have a leader (the terms orchestra conductor and rodeo clown are equally apropos). A former POG who tastes like chicken, Reeder cannot play the harmonica. He founded Breach-Bang-Clear quite accidentally at his young son’s behest several years ago. He is the Mad Duo’s Chief Wretched Flunky and Breach-Bang-Clear’s HMFIC. A LEO for many years and former AF Security Forces SNCO, he was an O/C at the National Homeland Security Training Center for many years and a longtime MOUT instructor at the Bold Lighting UWS. Reeder has appeared on Fox News Business and written for a number of publications, from US News & World Report and Military.com to RECOIL Magazine and Soldier Systems Daily. All of that sounds way cooler than it actually is. You can read more about him here. Follow his banality on Instagram, @davidreederwrites.
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