U.S. Marines, aid headed to typhoon-ravaged Philippines

Posted at 2:47 PM, Nov 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-10 14:47:19-05

(CNN) – The U.S. government had pledged an array of support from monetary aid to search-and-rescue missions in the Philippines, helping its longtime ally recover from a massive, devastating typhoon.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, known as USAID, announced Saturday it is immediately making available $100,000 to go for health care, clean water and sanitation to areas hit hard by the devastating storm.

This initial grant follows a disaster declaration by Acting U.S. Ambassador Brian Goldbeck, as the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines notes on its website.

USAID said in a statement that it is sending a disaster assistance response team to assess the damage, determine the humanitarian needs and keep key players posted on what’s happening and what needs to happen next.

The group is working in coordination with the Philippines’ government — which requested the assistance — as well as international and non-governmental organizations plus other U.S. agencies, such as the Department of Defense.

The American Embassy noted that Washington will also fly a humanitarian assistance survey team to Manila due to the catastrophe.

The U.S. military announced that Secretary Chuck Hagel has directed troops to support these humanitarian missions. That includes deploying aircraft for search-and-rescue missions, bringing in aid and providing logistical support.

The U.S. force will be led by Marines out of Okinawa, Japan, according to two U.S. military officials. Other military services will participate.

There is currently a Marine Expeditionary Unit of about 2,000 Marines on several ships in the Pacific, as well as a supply ship that could be sent.

Both officials emphasized the plan is still being finalized.

As of now, the plan is for the U.S. military to fly in requested aid by transport aircraft and heavy-lift helicopters into the most damaged areas.

“In coordination with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. ambassador in Manila, the Department of Defense will continue to monitor the effects of Typhoon Haiyan and stands ready to help our ally recover from the storm,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Much of this support will be directed to the same place — including hard-hit places like Palo and Tacloban — where, just under 70 years ago, U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur led allied troops back to then battle-scarred Philippines.

In doing so, he fulfilled a promise he’d made just two earlier: “I shall return.”

This was one of many major milestones in the deep U.S.-Filipino relationship.

The island nation had been under U.S. sovereignty — with the exception of the three years it was occupied by the Japanese during World War II — since the Spanish-American War’s end in 1898.

Washington recognized the Philippines as an independent nation in 1946. The two nations have stayed close politically, economically and culturally in the decades since.