82nd Airborne continues relief efforts in Haiti

Posted January 26, 2010 3:35 p.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2010 6:10 p.m. EST

— Beginning next week, the 82nd Airborne Division will begin providing manpower and security to about 15 food distribution sites around Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Maj. Gen. Dan Allyn said Tuesday.

Allyn, the deputy commanding general of U.S. forces in Haiti, said each site can provide about 15,000 families each day with enough food to feed them for a week.

More than 3,000 troops with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and 170 other soldiers from Fort Bragg are in Haiti.

“They are living with the Haitians to deliver what they need to deliver when they need to, and it is absolutely inspiring to watch,” Allyn said.

A Special Operations team has also helped distribute about 35,000 radios so citizens in Haiti can receive news about what’s being done on their behalf, he said.

The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Lejeune is working in communities west of Port-au-Prince, according to Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, U.S. Southern Command deputy commander. "It is estimated that 10,000 people in these areas have been killed and 400,000 have been displaced," he said.

A small team from the 20th Engineer Brigade is in Haiti as well to assist in removing rubble and restoring the infrastructure.

The living conditions for the troops could be described as austere. Many soldiers are sleeping on the ground, out in the open. Showers are not available to them daily.

Despite less-than-ideal conditions, Allyn said, soldiers told him there is no other place they’d rather be.

Allyn said he doesn’t know how long Fort Bragg troops will remain in Haiti.

“What we do know is there’s still great need for the people of Haiti,” he said.