Col. Tim McAteer commander of the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne, Ft Bragg, NC met with us to provide lessons learned and “2nd BCT Commander’s perspective”. He assumed command in Haiti on 9 February 2010 and the 82nd continues to provide relief while preparing to redeploy and assume its role as the Global Response Force on call Brigade on 1 April 2010.
The colonel highly praised all those responders to the Haitian crisis and said the initial response of American forces to provide security and order in Port-au-Prince was critical to the establishment of good order. He described the early environment as in total chaos due to losses among UN forces, Haitian police and government personnel. His paratroopers showed “incredible restraint” at times and with dignity, respect and order provided a security environment for the non governmental organizations (NGOs), USAID, UN forces and the Haitian government. He was extremely proud of the paratroopers and said they represented a wonderful cross section of the US and were true “ambassadors’ to the people of Haiti and he felt that the NGOs were surprised at how well they could work in the humanitarian relief environment.
The paratroopers broke down barriers, changed attitudes, saved lives and ended suffering. He said the Port-au-Prince hospital situation was the best example of what they did for the country with security and medics to overcome numerous challenges. The hospital was overwhelmed with patients and the medical care due to numerous reasons was being conducted at a pre-US civil war level. Many of the medical staff had been killed and the arrival of the 82nd brought calm to a turbulent situation.
The 82nd deployment is about to end (3,100 initially deployed in January and 900 are left) with command elements preparing to depart soon. He said the airport and naval ports are operating above capacity (prior to earthquake levels) and the security environment is vastly improved. He said the 82nd never saw any violence toward its troops and there were no incidents at food distribution points while they were on scene. The country is calm and the environment is vastly improved. He described the Haitian people as “thankful” and said the new relationships with other responders such as NGOs, UN and Haitian government personnel were ready to continue their support!
I would like to add a rousing thank you to the men and women of the 82nd and all of our armed forces serving or who served in Haiti! You have made us very proud of our nation and its caring attitude!
If you would like to read a transcript or listen an audio of the Roundtable please go to DoDLive!
Photo Credit: An 82nd Airborne Division medic speaks with children living in a tent city in Port-au-Prince, Feb. 18. The medic was working with a civil affairs team from U.S. Army Special Operations Command that was assessing medical, shelter, food and water needs to facilitate humanitarian assistance in the area. Photo Credit: Air Force 2nd Lt. Victoria Brayton
Photo Credit: Col. Tim McAteer Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Army