19 January 2010

Operation Unified Response


I wanted to provide an update on our current relief efforts in Haiti.  From the first news report, we sent all available ships, aircraft, and Sailors to help the people of Haiti.  We have set up a webpage dedicated to the Haiti relief effort and will continue to add more information over the coming days.  You can get to it by clicking here.

I could not be more proud of our Sailors who acted on the first report, leaned forward, and were able to get their ships underway quickly to be a part of our Nation’s relief efforts.  Many of our Sailors deployed on a moment’s notice without a known end date. I am also very mindful of the burden we’ve placed on their families and appreciate their sacrifices as we act to provide this disaster relief.

We’ve done this before - humanitarian assistance / disaster relief is one of our core capabilities.  We prepare for this, we practice for this, we're ready for this, and we are moving out.  But that doesn’t mean that there are no more good ideas.  I ask that you give thought to the situation and post your ideas on how we can better support our Sailors, their families, and the people of Haiti.  It’s going to take a very long time for Haiti to recover from this disaster.  Navy is already looking at long-term solutions to ensure we are able to sustain our efforts until they are no longer required.  All the best, JCHjr


Maryann Scheufele said...

Reading a thoughtful comment about the Haiti situation as posted by a U.S. Navy Admiral is a wonderful privilege made available through internet technology. I appreciate the ability to contact the informative blog via my newsreel connectivity. Thank you. God Bless.

Maryann Scheufele said...

Thank you, Admiral. Keep on bloggin'!



The Army has logistic commands that are charged with sustaining forces in an area for prolonged periods. As far as I understand the lowest echelon of command that is charged with such is on the brigade level and continue up to the theater level (MG in command). I am with one such unit here in AFG.
While I am not perfectly well versed in Naval logistics, I have never come across a similar mindset in the Navy when it comes to logistics.
I imagine we can take any number of plays from their book in regards to this. Especially when it comes to the eventual rotation of ships and squadrons around Haitian waters and yet have the need to maintain a constant flow of aid to the people of Haiti. From way across the world, the Navy has looked nothing but spectacular in it's response. Every Sailor I've seen out here knows and is proud of what our Navy is doing.

One last thing. Everything we are doing in terms of the Maritime Strategy and in our efforts in Haiti seem to derive from one book I read years ago (because of that book I am enlisted today), that book is "The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty First Century" by Thomas P. M. Barnett. In that work he detailed something he called the "System Administration Force". A closer look at his ideas may lead to a more refined approach in our responses to the Haitian relief efforts.


Joanne Haviland said...

I just wanted to say thank you for all you are doing, and the service that you give to our own country. May God richly bless you and your crew and their families.

Niko Forsberg said...

As a non-US citizen I am very pleased with the US military forces' response following the Haiti disaster. With rapid response the US military forces have taken the leader position in organizing and distributing aid to the areas affected by the earthquake. They have demonstrated their professional ability and exemplary dedication in challenging conditions.

I'm especially pleased the US Navy has sent so many vessels there to help.

The full extent of the catastrophe is still to be resolved but it is already apparent that the aid operation is going to last for months. Tens of thousands of people have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands have been injured.

The hospital ship USNS Comfort has already started operating in the area but due to the vast number of injured in addition to the destroyed hospitals and infrastructure in Port-au-Prince, there still aren't enough medical care resources available.

Therefore I truly hope the other hospital ship, USNS Mercy, will be sent to Haiti as well.

(The ship is currently due for routine renovations in San Fransisco but as the work on the ship hasn't begun yet there is possibility that it can be postponed.)

Solomon said...


State/USAID are the lead agencies on this operation. The US military seems to be the face of it. Why are leaders setting themselves up for this public relations black eye especially when it seems that the news media is becoming alarmed at the pace of operations?

Additionally the 22nd and 24th MEU are in Haiti. Has any provision been made to the unit rotation schedule to account for this? Is dwell time going to be affected?

Lastly many of the ships assigned to Haiti were slated for deployment to other regions of the world. Is their a contingency in place in case of trouble or is it simply a matter of this being acceptable risk? Same with the Coast Guard cutters. They're out of place, is it considered acceptable risk or is their a backfill that is on station for them?

david said...


i am surprised we didn't use LST, beachmasters, and just bring supplies to some beach area that was fairly clear of inhabitants, but close enough for overland access.

we could have combined some valuable training with a real-world mission.

this approach would have afforded us the ability to set up a secure distribution point, and the ability to expand and setup temporary living quarters for the haitians; as well as, the ability to ferry injured personnel to the hospital ship for treatment.

furthermore, i see mostly seahawks being used and not our heavy-lift helos. is that any indication these assets are unavailable, i.e. in short supply?

i think the LCACs are a great idea.

can we use the USS SeaFighter (FSF-1) as a support craft? if not, why not?

i am disappointed the navy does not recall it's personnel the way the army and USMC does. we seem to put out requests for volunteers like a temporary employment agency would; and some of the requests appear questionable in terms of necessity or urgency.

kind regards,

CDR David Etkins, USNR
Space VTU 0566, NAF Andrews

MaryR said...


Though I am in no way qualified to reflect on a disaster of this proportion, I am very impressed with this small band of brothers, moving quickly and triaging hundreds. Former military, EMT experience. I know the Navy has to operate differently but I think there are some very real lessons learned. Light and swift.


God Speed to you and all the men and women serving under you in this effort and elsewhere.

Mary Ripley

ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr said...

Battle Yeoman, it's always good to hear from you. I've received a great many thoughtful ideas from you that I have taken up via different channels. I really appreciate the time and energy you've devoted to helping to keep me informed.
I'm working the sustainment piece as I type; that is, what do we have to do with ship schedules, maintenance periods, deployment schedules and training periods to "rebalance the books" and ensure we do right by the ships, squadrons and units that have deployed to Haiti. We'll be able to keep the aid flowing for a long time which is exactly what the people of Haiti need us to do.
I'm very familiar with the Barnett book; it's thought-provoking and has much to recommend it.

Solomon, our very significant and rapid response to the disaster in Haiti has not kept us from meeting any of our other commitments around the globe. We're backfilling as necessary and redirecting several ships; all our commitments in support of the fight in Afghanistan, counter-piracy operations and other missions in the CENTCOM area of responsibility will be met.

David, we're using all our expeditionary capabilities to deliver relief supplies over the beach in Haiti. Wait till you see our JLOTS in action - it will really improve our ability to deliver the much-needed aid in increasing volumes.
We've mobilized our Reserve Sailors to help in specific mission areas; I'm very satisfied we've gotten the right skill sets recalled with the appropriate sense of urgency.

Mary Ripley, light and swift is good, but never forget that sometimes you also need heavy and decisive.
Your Navy, our Navy, is moving out with great speed on all fronts to deliver food, water and medical care. I've never been more proud of our Sailors - their response and performance have been simply magnificent. And that's no surprise to me.

All the best, JCHjr

Shipmate said...


In nearly 3 decades of active service I am always most proud to watch the teams mobilize and make a difference. In Liberia, Somalia, Haiti (again and again) and in numerous other areas we do ourselves proud by rapid employment and meaningful contribution. This particular effort is all the more impressive given our commitments in the Middle East, southwest Asia, and Africa.

An issue that really concerns me (and my friends who are currently in command on these ships) is the follow on "bill". I think you should ask the 05s in command about specifics - they have some real issues that may not be making it to your level. In many cases these ships will return and be forced to complete a full training cycle (because it is time to do it – no other reason than it’s on the schedule) but they will go into the shipyards where they will have to do a complete training cycle at the end of their yard period.

Admiral, could we please put together a reasonable man approach and tailor resources ($$, People and TIME) to allow our ships and Sailors the opportunity when they return to catch their breath, avoid unnecessary inspections/training events, and fixing equipment that is only going to be removed in the yards?

For example many of these ships are going to spend 4 -10 months in the shipyard which will require them to do a complete training cycle at the end of the yard period. All of their certifications will expire in the yards. Yet, these ships have to do a complete ULTRA-S before they go into the yards. The ships will spend lots of dwindling resources ($$) in fixing equipment to get to minimum equipment status to accomplish events which will have to be redone in 6-8 months.

The strain on the families who (finally) have their Sailor home but working 15-18 hour days is enormous (in many cased 6 or 7 days a week), the costs are high (and often hidden from those who fill in the accounting records), and it demoralizes our Sailors.

We are doing really good things in Haiti, but we need to look at giving our Sailors a break when they return. The time for those of us on shore to start thinking about that is now and we owe it to you to tell you how we should take care of our Sailors when they return. If we wait until they get back, its going to be impossible to get a reasonable man approach.

Thanks again for allowing contribution via blog -

Very respectfully,


Real Estate Mary said...

Thanks for the first hand information of the Haiti situation! It's helpful for family members of the guys in Haiti to understand what's happening there. God Bless and thank you.

COB said...

Sir, I think sometimes we are not sure of the output of our training efforts or what we “learn”. I would like to say that in developing my part of the learning discussion I am viewing “IAs” as “outliers”. So please place my comments in the contexts of core Navy training.

To focus on the question regarding learning I would say sure we learn and yes as the environment dictates we do transfer information in an on-demand format to others or mentor / teach. I would say that in the Navy of today there is far less Wardroom table topping or Chief Mess mentoring. Recently we have seen marked focus on pipeline and fleet training requirements and rigor. So in the micro; Navy training professionals are doing their level best to meet demands with the resources available. Do we always meet the mark, probably not, but I think that trainers give a full measure of effort in the process. So here we have great Americans maximizing their effort in these constrained times. But that of course begs the question; what else can be done to reap maximum benefit from the aforementioned efforts?

I believe one of the biggest problems facing the learning / mentoring/ teaching / execution endeavors is in human capital management. Specifically our inability to; identify, train, track and consistently resource skill sets.

We have all heard the stories FC1 or LTjg Superstar is leaving the ship for a billet that is far removed from everything they have been doing / learning / teaching the last XX years on the boat.

To be sure I don’t have to tell you the amount of money spent on training and readiness and yet it seems it is never enough. I think that might be due to training or re-training each time will fill a billet and that cost money or we fill a billet with a body we think has the skills but due to atrophy is no longer effective in that disciple and that cost readiness.

Could it be that the core problem is we do not effectively track the skill sets once out of the training command. I think everyone recognizes this as a problem but we are relaying on an antiquated detailing system process to track and resource these skills using NEC’s and AQD’s. From that aspect I would submit that the Navy has done a poor job in managing the program. Detailers see P & D NEC’s etc. but Navy has never done a good job of scrubbing currency, applicability etc. of individuals to ensure capability is still available and current.

Is it possible that if Navy modified the detailers programming process to show all skill sets / AQD / NEC and also invoke an annual NEC/AQD validation where the CO’s have to input something like a diary entry to keep the NEC’s / AQD’s from automatically being stripped from the member.

Coupled with a process to develop more NEC’s / AQDs or capability tags, markers etc. to really hone in on what the sailors has learned / knows / can do. Could this be a fairly low (sunken) cost tool to help with a Fit and Fill or a Skill and Fill approach?

1 Saved Round: In the AIRFOR and SUBFOR worlds I perceive a job in the schoolhouse/training command as being career enhancing but, not so in the SURFOR world.
From a Surface Navy perspective do we need to increase the caliber of the officers at the schoolhouses? Do you think that a turn as an instructor / trainer should be required IOT screen for command?

Steve Hammer