PAKISTAN - The commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 5 and commander, Task Force 59, Crisis Response, visited Pakistan Aug. 19 and 21 to meet with Pakistani military leaders.
During his visits, Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris saw firsthand the devastation caused by the floods that began July 29 and also met with United States Marines and Sailors who are currently assisting with flood relief efforts.
"My first impression of the devastation was … it is tremendous," said Harris. "The country is inundated."
Since beginning U.S. relief efforts in support of the Pakistani government Aug. 5, U.S. military helicopters and C-130 aircraft have transported more than 1.7 million pounds of supplies and have rescued 6,653 victims.
U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mike Nagata, deputy commander, Office of the Defense Representative-Pakistan, expressed gratitude for the help provided by the United States Navy and Marine Corps team.
"Your Sailors and Marines are delivering extraordinary effectiveness and results every single day." Nagata told Harris. "It is our honor to serve alongside them, and to watch how they are saving lives with matchless skill and dedication."
The Sailors and Marines of amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) arrived off the coast of Pakistan August 9 in order to provide the heavy lift helicopter capabilities that the government of Pakistan requested.
"Peleliu was one the first units on scene once the devastation occurred," said Harris. "In order to be in position to provide helicopter support to Pakistan, Peleliu moved quickly from the mission that she was conducting and traveled almost 1,000 miles."
Additionally, Harris expressed admiration for the Navy and Marine Corps team, ashore and aboard Peleliu.
"Everyone should be very proud of the Sailors and Marines that are providing support to the relief efforts. Without the efforts of all the Sailors and Marines, from Ghazi to the Peleliu, the helicopters operating in Ghazi wouldn't be able to maintain their readiness. It's a great example of the Navy/Marine Corps team in action," Harris said.
As the commander of ESG 5 and CTF-59, Harris is responsible for all amphibious forces deployed to 5th Fleet. He is responsible for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command's planning and execution of contingency response missions and maritime humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.
Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit serve as the theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command and report directly to Harris.
For more news from USS Peleliu (LHA 5), visit www.navy.mil/local/lha5/.