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U.S. Military Role in Assistance to Nepal

By U.S. Pacific Command | May 1, 2015

U.S. military forces have responded to the earthquake disaster in Nepal and continue to develop plans to support the U.S. government agencies making up the U.S. response to the calamity.  The U.S. stands by Nepal at this sad time and extends its condolences to all those affected.

Soon after the April 25th earthquake, the government of Nepal, as the overall leaders organizing the response to the disaster, requested international assistance.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) sent a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) and two Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams, which arrived via U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft.

USAID also activated a Response Management Team in Washington D.C. to help coordinate assistance at the national level. They provided an initial $1 million, followed with another $9 million for critical humanitarian needs.

A U.S. Special Forces team was training in Nepal when the earthquake struck; they immediately transitioned to help with the relief efforts.  The Soldiers present are providing logistical help and medical assistance to the injured.  They also helped in search and rescue along popular trekking routes, including the Everest Base Camp, an area that was especially affected by the earthquake.  All current and future U.S. military assistance is conducted in a supporting role to the Armed Forces of Nepal.  

The U.S. Embassy in Nepal is heading the U.S. effort, with USAID as the lead federal agency.  U.S. Pacific Command is working closely with both to determine how the Department of Defense (DOD) may best support the U.S. government response to this disaster.

On April 29th, a DOD Joint Humanitarian Assessment Support Team (JHAST) with approximately 20 military personnel arrived in Nepal. The JHAST will advise the DART on DOD capabilities and assets available to support the Nepal earthquake response and help assess appropriate DOD missions. Coordinated JHAST-DART assessments, with a particular focus on airport operations at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), are scheduled to begin April 30th.

Given its ability to respond quickly to crises around the world, U.S. forces are ready to assist should additional requirements for unique military support be identified.  The U.S. is in touch with Nepalese officials and other donor nations and agencies to mobilize additional assistance if requested. 

The enduring relationship between the U.S. and Nepalese militaries and the recurring military training exchanges between the two nations allow them to rapidly and easily work together as they conduct relief operations in order to save lives and alleviate human suffering.