By Buddy Blouin
The U.S. military has a global reach and while all types of warlike activities may first come to mind, our troops do a lot more than combat. While war may be some of the worst humanity has to offer, there are other threats that lurk beyond our control. The Kahramanmaras earthquake is a stark reminder of this notion as the Earth gave 2023 an early blow. As of this writing, the 2023 Turkey earthquake has already claimed the lives of 20,000+ people with untold destruction. Now, America is stepping in to extend a hand to its ally during Turkey’s time of need. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXM8BViT8ws

Related: How the USNS Comfort Delivers Comfort & Healing Around the World

Dogs, Supplies, and Manpower Sent in Response to Kahramanmaras Earthquake

In response to the Kahramanmaras earthquake, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has sent vital equipment and search-and-rescue teams including rescue dogs to Turkey. As the Turkey-Syria earthquake death toll passes 20,000, a race against the clock to save others unfolds. Two Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs loaded with 161 search-and-rescue members specializing in urban settings, 12 rescue dogs, and 170,000 pounds of equipment were sent to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. "We offer our sincere condolences, and we'll stand with our ally Turkey as they work to save lives and recover from this horrific disaster," said Pentagon Press Secretary, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder. On February 6, 2023, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria causing rubble to claim tens of thousands of lives. The USAF already has a strong presence in Incirlik Air Base, near Adana, which was not majorly affected. Featuring around 2,000 service members and Department of Defense (DoD) civilians that call the base home, the relief of spared Americans is somewhat curtailed as so many around are struggling to deal with the devastation. The military installation is key for maintaining a presence in the area considering there are around 50 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons stored there. But for now, its core focus is delivering military search and rescue to the region. Those landing in Turkey to help provide military humanitarian assistance and disaster relief include 69 people and six rescue dogs from Virginia. There are also 82 others featuring another six dogs added to the personnel group by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Along with man and canine power is a mix of equipment ranging from essentials such as water, tents, and medical supplies to concrete breakers, generators, and more. Rather than aiding the United States European Command, relief is being sent to Turkey instead. Additionally, there are several Airmen aiding in the process. American humanitarian aid continues to be a team effort and considering the scale of damage, efforts may continue to touch other branches over the upcoming days, weeks, and months. "We’re committed to assisting Türkiye's affected communities in every way possible as they grieve and begin to recover from the devastation caused by the recent earthquakes. The Airmen of the 39th Air Base Wing stay ready to respond in support of our allies along NATO’s southern flank,” said 39th Air Base Wing Commander, Col. Calvin Powell.

An Unfortunate Reminder of Our Military’s Humanitarian Efforts

The humanitarian assistance and disaster response military members conduct is a stark difference from defending America’s freedom. Yet, it remains an important utility of the American Armed Forces for both U.S. citizens and others around the world. Billions of dollars go toward refugee and humanitarian assistance each year. This investment has a wide-reaching impact that helps the lives of those directly affected, fosters stronger relationships with allies, and even prevents cascading downturns in sensitive areas. Overall, American humanitarian efforts and operations are prevalent throughout the U.S. military. The Kahramanmaras earthquake is a stark, unfortunate reminder of these efforts.

Kahramanmaras Earthquake Presents a Long Road Ahead

Military search and rescue from the U.S. and other nations are important. There are already stories of resilience and joy from those that were able to experience a miracle and survive the rubble. But this is only the beginning. The people of Turkey and Syria deserve all of our condolences as they work to overcome this terrible natural disaster. Moving forward, there will be a need to establish security, infrastructure, and economical support, among other key components to get things back on track. Unfortunately, even with the scientific advances we have today, predicting these events proves difficult. The Kahramanmaras earthquake was an unforeseeable tragedy, but hopefully, for those affected, brighter days will come after the darkness which persists throughout the region.

Read Next: What Does the National Guard Do?




Get the latest news and military discounts