Ed is the pseudonym of a Naval Officer aboard the USS Lincoln and wasn't happy with the Tsunami relief efforts - mostly due to the arrogance and attitudes of the UN staffers.
...What really irritated me was a scene I witnessed in the Lincoln’s wardroom a few days ago. I went in for breakfast as I usually do, expecting to see the usual crowd of ship’s company officers in khakis and air wing aviators in flight suits, drinking coffee and exchanging rumors about when our ongoing humanitarian mission in Sumatra is going to end.
What I saw instead was a mob of civilians sitting around like they owned the place. They wore various colored vests with logos on the back including Save The Children, World Health Organization and the dreaded baby blue vest of the United Nations Mixed in with this crowd were a bunch of reporters, cameramen and Indonesian military officers in uniform.
They all carried cameras, sunglasses and fanny packs like tourists on their way to Disneyland. My warship had been transformed into a floating hotel for a bunch of trifling do-gooders overnight...
I just received an email from a Naval Aviator aboard the Lincoln who disputes Stanton's claims and wants you to hear the other side of the story. Here are the words of Lieutenant Commander Jeff Vorce:
As a Navy helicopter pilot flying humanitarian assistance/disaster relief missions to the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, I was startled and dismayed by the inaccuracies of Ed Stanton's editorial, "No Relief in Sight for the Lincoln." While I can't comment on the actual individual who drafted the article (he chose to hide behind a pen name), his writing is indicative of a disgruntled officer who hasn't actually seen the true scope of the devastation ashore or the work that is being done by his shipmates to help.
The people of Indonesia genuinely appreciate our assistance. There are homemade American flags that the hungry and injured have made and display in the makeshift landing zones where we drop off medical supplies, food, and water to prove it. My heart swells with pride (and I choke up a little) every time I see hundreds of displaced persons cheer, salute, and flash a big smile or a thumbs-up when my crewmen are off-loading boxes marked with red, white, and blue stickers that proclaim, "Food from the American People."
The Indonesian government (rightly so) is in charge of the overall relief effort underway on the western coast of Sumatra. Last time I checked, it is their country. Simply put, we are here to aid them with their recovery. We are merely one part of what could end up as the largest relief effort in history. The resources and personnel of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group are working in concert with the people of Indonesia, other nations, militaries, and a host of non-governmental relief agencies including US AID, Red Cross & Red Crescent Society, WHO, UNICEF, Doctors without Borders, and the WFP.
The civilians that have been transported by our helicopters and have been hosted aboard the carrier are not a "traveling circus" of aid workers or "trifling do-gooders." On the contrary, these are professionals who have years of experience in mitigating human suffering and tragedy. While there are many highly trained men and women deployed alongside me, there are few (if any) who have expertise in the prediction of malaria transmission vectors, the proper disposal of tens of thousands of human remains, creating a system to match orphaned children with distant relatives, reviving an entire economy, prioritizing bridges or roads to be re-built, or any of the other skills sets that are so critical to disaster relief.
I find it curious that Mr. Stanton complains about having to wait in line to get food behind men and women who are supporting the same mission as his brothers and sisters in arms. He fails to mention that, in addition to a hot meal or two and a bed to sleep in, the carrier is providing planning space to aid in coordinating the operation, computer and communications assistance, and video teleconferencing services for lead international relief workers and organizations. Comparable facilities in Sumatra have been completely destroyed or are without power. The key to the US military's withdrawal from this operation is a speedy turnover with international organizations that can provide the same services and support-the very reason that they were onboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
The description of an aircraft carrier as an "instrument of national policy" is accurate. The belief that the offensive strike capability of the air wing she carries is the only way to project this policy is flawed. Here in Indonesia, such an assumption is a slap in the face to the sailors who volunteered to go ashore and load thousands of pounds of rice into helicopters each day in the tropical heat. It fails to take into account the talent of the ship's engineering teams that were able to repair generators at the local hospital and restore electrical power. It overlooks the heroism of the navy medical personnel that saved countless lives in the wake of the tsunami's devastation. It doesn't begin to calculate the strategic value of clothing donations, a soccer ball tossed from a helicopter, or a handful of candy given to children who have lost everything they have.
With respect to the media, the only negative portrayal of Operation UNIFIED ASSISTANCE (the name given to the US military's regional response to the tsunami disaster) I have seen was Mr. Stanton's. The Indonesian press has praised our work and questioned the paucity of relief assistance from other Islamic nations. Military service members often complain that the media "doesn't get it right" and fails to cover all of the positive work we do; this time the media got it right and Mr. Stanton got it wrong.
LCDR Jeff Vorce, USN
If anyone from the media wants to contact Lieutenant Commander Vorce, I have his email address.
[Big thanks to Victoria for sending LCDR Vorce's eloquent rebuttal]
» Another Perspective from PalmTree Pundit
Read the whole thing for a take quite different that that of "Ed Stanton" in the first piece. The PalmPilot, like the naval aviator who identified himself... [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 27, 2005 3:14:22 PM
» On the Other Hand from thesciolist
Courtesy of Blackfive, LCDR Jeff Vorce, USN, disputes the slam against international civilian relief agency representatives involved in the tsunami relief that I, and many others, cited. [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 27, 2005 4:50:42 PM
» The Other Side of the Coin from Solomonia
Here's a story that's worth a little extra attention. We spend a lot of time bashing the UN (mostly deservedly), and cursing the world for the ingrates they very often are, but it's important to take a look outside that... [Read More]
Tracked on Jan 28, 2005 4:58:36 PM
» Indonesian relief from the derek rose blog
I thought this exchange on the military blog Blackfive was pretty interesting. An anonymous officer on board the USS Abraham Lincoln, engaged in relief efforts off the coast of Sumatra, wrote this essay griping about having to ferry around a bunch of j... [Read More]
Tracked on Mar 16, 2006 7:47:48 PM
Advertise on Military Blogs!
Advertise on Right Blogs!
The Blog of War
"Grab it before the Pentagon orders it burned..." - Vanity Fair
"...nonpartisan patriotism is the common thread tying together these reflections, love letters and stories of combat. They make for riveting reading." - The Washington Post
Winner of the 2006 Gold Medal for Anthologies - Military Writer's Society of America
"This collection is an excellent introduction to an emerging form of war reporting." - Booklist
"...there is much to tell, and celebrate, in the tough, day-to-day work that our soldiers are doing in one of the most challenging environments any army has ever faced..." - The Philadelphia Inquirer
"...the collection is riveting...a worthy tribute." - The American Prospect
for more information and list of blogger/authors
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.