Joint Aviation Coordination Cell to aid flood relief in Pakistan

ACH

By Staff Sgt. KaliL. Gradishar, U.S. Air Force Central Public Affairs

ISLAMABAD (September 8, 2010) – Several Pakistani, U.S. and international organizations, both military and civilian, gathered at Pakistan Air Force Base Chaklala in Rawalpindi Aug. 28 to form a joint aviation coordination cell to streamline air operations supporting Pakistan’s flood relief efforts.

After torrential rains pounded the country and a surge of water jetted through towns and villages, many were left without food, water, shelter and other basic necessities. The Pakistan Air Force’s Central Flood Relief Cell stood up at Pakistan Air Force Base Chaklala to direct relief toward areas most in need, but there was still a communication gap between many of the Pakistani and international relief providers and organizations involved.

The Pakistani-led JACC consolidates everyone’s efforts and represents a huge success going forward, said U.S. Air Force Col. Greg Nelson, director of U.S. mobility forces for humanitarian assistance to Pakistan, based out of Chaklala.

“The lead civilian agency is the National Disaster Management Authority of Pakistan … They have received support and commodities from all over the world,” said Nelson, who deployed from the 123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky Air National Guard. “Until we all formed this coordination cell, the (various entities) weren’t able to merge together and bring that requirements and commodities picture to an organized air flow capability.

“This will really increase the efficiency of air delivery of the needs across the country of Pakistan,” Nelson said. “It’s all in support of the government of Pakistan through the NDMA, and this cell puts the whole thing together.”

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Nadeem Ahmed, NDMA chairman, established the JACC and appointed Pakistan Army Aviation Command commander Maj. Gen. Raja Muhammad Arif Nazir to chair the coordination cell. The first meeting of the JACC brought together representatives from the NDMA, the Pakistan Army and Air Force, U.N. Logistics Cluster, World Food Program, the U.S.

Participants discussed available food and supplies, requirements in flooded areas throughout Pakistan and means for transporting the items throughout the country. The meeting also provided an opportunity to facilitate communication between the participating countries and agencies involved in relief efforts and to better accommodate the many donations, air assets and collaborators.

“The main focus has been to find…what the requirements are throughout the country during this flood disaster and then we prioritize – find out what resources we have in terms of the commodities, whether it’s food … supplies, shelter,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eliot Evans, Office of the Defense Representative-Pakistan. “Then the joint aviation coordination cell meets to coordinate what aircraft are available (and) what our capacity is to move the supplies that we need to.

“It’s critically important for the flow of information so that all organizations… are led by the Pakistan government, by the National Disaster Management Authority,” added the colonel, deployed from the Virginia Air National Guard. “It’s critical that this gives transparency to the flow if the humanitarian assistance relief goods, and it also helps in the communication to make sure that we prioritize what areas are most in need so that we can get those supplies distributed as soon as possible to the areas that are most affected.”

Besides enhanced communication, the creation of the JACC also provides the opportunity for a planning process that looks further into the future.

Until the establishment of the JACC, the delivery requirements for various commodities were passed on to the air cell to develop an “air flow plan immediately for the next 24 hours,” Nelson said. “Now we’re starting to look at a week out.”

About kentuckyguard