ARSOF Units Provide Information Support for Humanitarian Aid Surge

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http://news.soc.mil/releases/News Archive/2010/Feb/100204-01.html

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (Courtesy of Special Operations Command South Public Affairs, Feb. 4, 2010) –Army special operations elements began supporting the 82nd Airborne Division and the United Nations World Food Program, Jan. 31, as part of a two-week surge to get much needed humanitarian aid to victims of Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake.

Several information support teams from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command spread across four battalions of the 82nd Abn. Div. to provide loudspeaker and other tactical support to the units during humanitarian aid distribution at WFP sites throughout Port-au-Prince.

"We're really here to provide public information to the local populace," said Capt. Dan, a detachment commander for several information support teams. "Loudspeaker operations have been extremely useful, as have written products such as posters or leaflets. However, I believe the most important part is the face-to-face interaction with locals by soldiers who speak Creole."

Having native speakers available to instruct civilian crowds on distribution procedures has significantly eased the process and allowed more people to receive aid, he said.

"These soldiers really help put out information to the crowds so they remain calm and orderly, which in turn makes the process of providing them aid that much easier," Capt. Dan said.

So far the teams have had much success in supporting their respective units.

"The feedback I've gotten from battalion commanders is very positive," he said. "They are very pleased with the results and want more teams. I've been told there's a stark difference between before we arrived and now."

At one WFP site near the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince, nearly 1,100 people received food during a distribution, Feb. 1. It was the first distribution at the site where several more are scheduled to occur during the two-week operation.

Sgt. Jared, an information support team leader, said helping support the distribution was a worthwhile endeavor.

"This is why we're here, to make sure aid gets to the people who need it," he said. "People seemed very happy we were there helping. When the distributions work out well, such as this one, the credibility of the overall U.S. and international effort is increased in the eyes of the locals, so the next time we do this, the distributions are even more effective."
 
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