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AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a story I first posted in January of 2007, but it appears especially pertinent right now.

I start today’s discussion with the proposition that non-military responses to events around the world offer great bang-for-the-buck opportunities to cement friendships with citizens across the globe.

This is especially true in a disaster scenario. You might recall the story of the New York City paramedics providing assistance in Pakistan, and how much it impacted the locals getting the help.

In my mind, that means responding to disasters around the world is an effective way to enhance our National Security. Even more so when the country you are helping might not be your closest friend; and you want to affect public opinion/increase connectivity in spite of the local Government.

Which brings me to today’s suggestion:

If this stuff works, why not create the tools to do it better?

Specifically, I suggest we build a couple of Peace Ships.

Look at the lessons learned from the Tsunami disaster in East Asia and Katrina.

The complete absence of infrastructure-security, medical, communications, electrical, air traffic control, all of it-meant it was challenging just to get recovery started. Bases had to be created so that repairs could get underway.

We could put those capabilities into a floating response platform using resources already developed and working. Here’s what I mean:

The USS Iwo Jima is one of a class of "light" aircraft carriers used to support amphibious assaults. It has, in fact, been used as a command center following Katrina. Its Combat Information Center is not dissimilar to a Network Operations Center for a telecom company married to an Air Traffic Control facility; and it operates a small airport upstairs, a small medical center downstairs.

So imagine a ship carrying a similar CIC operation, with an expanded medical center, 500-1000 Marines for quick-response security, enough earthmoving gear and Construction Battalion team personnel to clear a runway, and a stash of generators and other electrical/cell phone/satellite gear for emergency restoration of services.

Otters, Ospreys (if considered safe...), helicopters, and quickly assembled microwave towers/satellite uplink vans can allow the ship to reach out more than 500 miles. Mobile hospital kits can offer the same capability in the medical area.

To create a more robust potential response, pre-positioned equipment could be placed outside the US (perhaps the Marine Expeditionary Units will let us borrow some depot space?).

Check out the USS Kitty Hawk for an example of the type of platform that could be used.

There is a huge amount of budget involved, which is good and bad. It will be more difficult to obtain and keep Congressional support, but the Navy will love it (who doesn’t like a mandate for a new mission to fund?).

This can even be sold as a form of "portable" foreign aid that doesn’t statutorily lock to any particular country or program initiative.

Iran has suffered major earthquakes recently, including an event in 1990 that killed 35,000.

We are considering spending billions upon billions to kill thousands more Iranians, and I’ll bet at the end of the process we will not have a peaceful relationship with Iran.

On the other hand, for a lot less money we could create a public diplomacy tool which, had we sent it to Iran two or three times, could have created a much different relationship than we face today. (You might notice that Ache is not considering attacking us...)

And it would have come in real handy in New Orleans, or Florida, or wherever the next American disaster occurs. Bonus!

For full disclosure, the response time issue seems to be the fly in the ointment, but with two ships and smart basing a one week response is possible for much of the world.

So: smart way to spend money, or is the Peace Ship a waste of time?
I’ve reported, you decide.

Originally posted to fake consultant on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 09:17 PM PST.


how much could we afford for this, annually?

27%3 votes
36%4 votes
18%2 votes
0%0 votes
18%2 votes

| 11 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  the video i've seen... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    capelza, QuestionAuthority, yaque, zenox

    ...suggests they have no firefighting response at all in port-au-prince, and news is reporting that the main hospital is out of action.

    a ship like this--or more than one--would be invaluable right this very moment as a base for air operations and for the available construction equipment.

    "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

    by fake consultant on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 09:17:00 PM PST

  •  how about less war ships? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    capelza, fake consultant

    now that would be a sign that the US is changing.

    Nobody else here and they are trying to kill us

    by Tom J on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 10:23:29 PM PST

    •  you know... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      capelza, QuestionAuthority, yaque

      ...there is a need for the us to develop a sort of international assistance agency that could help with a number of tasks that trouble developing nations, including creating civil society structures, helping set up infrastructures like a national fire/rescue service (say, in haiti?) or schools or wells or even coffee washing stations.

      there has been a move to develop some of this in iraq and afghanistan, in the form of "provincial reconstruction teams", but so far it has been a military-oriented type of deal, with civilians filling in for some of the work.

      so this could be a way to move people out of warships into a department of...peace, maybe?

      it's a way to do good while doing good, and it would likely lead to us needing fewer warships as time goes along...and since there's budget involved, there will be supporters in the bureaucracy, which can't hurt.

      "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

      by fake consultant on Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 10:38:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I do like this idea. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fake consultant

    I'm reminded of the Project Hope (which is sending help to Haiti...and the Mercy Ships.   Though they are medically focused.

    In all the Bush years, the one really heartening military thing I saw was the response to the tsunami...that and the American military medical teams that went into the NW of Pakistan after the devastating earthquake there.

    •  exactly right... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...those efforts go a long way to giving us a presence in places that might think badly of us that isn't all "great satan-y".

      as it is today, the us air force is the world's primary source of "surge capacity" when disaster airlift is needed--and if we had one of these ships based in jacksonville or mobile or north carolina (more on that in a minute), it would be arriving today and it could have been delivering supplies even as it was steaming into port.

      a ship based in san diego would need about 80 hours to arrive (based on a 2500 mile distance to travel), but once the ship was in the caribbean osprey aircraft would be in operational range, so deliveries could begin even sooner.

      a ship based at diego garcia would be 5-6000 miles away; it should take 8-9 days to cover that distance at a speed of roughly 30 knots.

      an ideal base for coverage of the us east coast and that caibbean might be camp lejeune, which not only has access to the ocean, but is also close to fort bragg and pope air force base, which would allow all the legs of our "disaster response triad" to be easily coordinated.

      "...this election has never been about me. it's about you."--barack obama

      by fake consultant on Wed Jan 13, 2010 at 05:48:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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