The USS Bataan in Haiti
Danger Room’s Nathan Hodge is off the Haitian coast aboard the USS Bataan, which he reports has become a “new hub of Haiti operations” now that the immediate disaster relief mission has transitioned into one of providing sustained humanitarian resources. What’s that mean for the ship? A lot of partnering with non-governmental relief agencies:
Humanitarian aid makes for strange alliances. In the main cargo bay, pallets of bottled water and medicine donated by a Christian relief group share space with Marines of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. The young, shaven-headed riflemen clean their weapons and run PT around the hold, looking primed for combat. But when they hit the beach — they have established a landing zone at Leogane — they will be armed with bottled water.
As we’ve reported here before, the military has adopted a mantra of openness and collaboration. I spoke briefly with a Navy civil affairs officer, who described how he was working with charities like Oxfam and Medecins sans Frontieres, non-governmental organizations that are typically wary of the military.
“We’re trying to get to the NGOs and IOs [international organizations] and see how they operate,” he told me. “We see what portals they use, how they operate. The attitude is, we know what we do, but we can learn from them.”
At least that’s clearer than some of Bataan’s operations earlier in the Haiti relief mission.