Kadena Air Base, Japan (Vocus) October 9, 2009
Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group from here are supporting humanitarian relief operations near Padang in western Indonesia after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake and a slightly smaller one struck Sept. 29 and Oct. 1.
Members of the 320th Special Tactics Squadron and 17th Special Operations Squadron from Kadena Air Base were already in Indonesia for a training exchange designed to enhance U.S and Indonesian military training, capabilities and increase interoperability.
Starting Oct. 2, Airmen of the 353rd SOG and members of a special operations branch of the Indonesian air force immediately started moving emergency response teams, equipment and relief supplies to the Padang area aboard a MC-130P Combat Shadow assigned to the 17th SOS.
Since beginning their participation in the relief efforts, the 353rd SOG and Indonesian air force members have surveyed the area surrounding Padang and provided damage assessments to relief coordinators in addition to personnel and cargo movements into the affected areas.
"The devastating earthquakes that hit the Padang area are tragic," said Col. John Glaze, the 353rd SOG deputy commander. "As part of the coordinated relief efforts, the Air Commandos are truly dedicated to helping the people of Indonesia through this disaster. We are already working tirelessly with our Indonesian counterparts and all of the partners participating in this relief operation and will continue to do so until our mission is done."
In the days to come, the 353rd SOG and Indonesian air force members will continue moving emergency response teams, equipment and relief supplies and providing damage assessments throughout the affected area.
Combat controllers from the teams will also survey possible airfields and landing zones to possibly expand the relief operations. Combat controllers are trained special operations forces and certified air traffic controllers. They can establish airfields while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, command and control, and humanitarian assistance in austere locations.