U.S. military assistance is on the ground in Haiti to assist and support the tiny island nation with the impact felt from Hurricane Matthew this week, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters Thursday.
Cook said as the team is stood up, the United States and Defense Department will coordinate needs for U.S. military assistance with interagency partners and the Haitian government, he added.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter is getting regular updates, Cook said. “He and the rest of DoD are tracking the hurricane … as it threatens the U.S. East Coast,” he added, noting that the U.S. Agency for international Development sent a request for assistance, and the secretary has given approval to U.S. Southern Command to spend up to $11 million in overseas humanitarian, disaster and civic aid funds for disaster relief.
The funding includes transportation in the Caribbean, airfield support assessment and airfield operation support, he said.
Northcom Coordinating With Agencies
Northcom has identified four facilities as FEMA installation support bases to use as staging areas for trucks, trailers and other equipment and personnel at North Auxiliary Field, which is north of Charleston, South Carolina; Albany Marine Corps Logistics Base In Georgia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, the press secretary said. Some 4,500 Guardsmen have been mobilized by their respective state governors in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, he added.
U.S. Strike Kills al-Qaida Senior Leader
In other news, Cook confirmed the death of Egyptian national Abu al Faraj al Masri, also known as Amad Salama Mabrouk, one of al-Qaida’s most senior leaders, in an Oct. 3 American airstrike near Idlib, Syria.
“His death is a significant disruption to al-Qaida’s senior leadership, and again a blow to their ability to plot external attacks,” the press secretary said.
Soldier Killed In Afghanistan
DoD today also released the name of Army Staff Sgt. Adam S. Thomas, 31, of Takoma Park, Maryland, who was killed Oct. 4 in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, where he was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. The incident is under investigation, a Pentagon release noted. Thomas was the first American service member killed in a counter-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant operation in Afghanistan, Cook said.
Carter and the entire Defense Department offer their condolences to Thomas’ family, Cook told reporters. “And even as we mourn the loss of Staff Sergeant Thomas,” he added “the United States will continue to lead the campaign to deliver ISIL the lasting defeat it deserves and to combat ISIL’s metastases everywhere they emerge around the world, including in Afghanistan.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)