22nd MEU, USAID work together to better facilitate humanitarian efforts

9 Sep 2010 | Cpl. Justin M. Martinez

Each year, many countries around the world are devastated by natural disasters.  An earthquake, tsunami or hurricane often leaves a trail of injured, confused or even dead citizens in its destructive path.

By the time dust settles, different aid agencies and organizations have come together to build an immediate plan of action to help ease the stress and turmoil in the affected areas.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is responsible for providing international disaster and humanitarian assistance coordination to help prevent or minimize loss of life, alleviate human suffering, and reduce the social and economic impact of humanitarian emergencies worldwide, according to their Web site http://www.usaid.gov.

Officers and staff non-commissioned officers and with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit participated in a two-day training evolution aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 8-9, 2010, called the USAID Joint Humanitarian Operations Course given by two U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance members.

Arielle Giegerich and William Laspina work for USAID and traveled from Washington D.C. to the Carolina coast to train and develop a collaborative work ethic with the MEU.

“When you take our understanding of how the U.N. works along with the humanitarian system combined with the unique capabilities of the DoD like rotor lift helicopters, strategic airlifts and the sheer troop power, it has a great [U.S. Government] team effect,” said Laspina, a humanitarian assistance advisor with the OFDA and Boise, Idaho native.

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance responds to between 60 and 90 disasters each year to include Haiti’s recent earthquake and Bangladesh’s 2007 Tropical Cyclone Sidr, where the 22nd MEU provided humanitarian aid to the poverty stricken countries.

“We worked very closely with the 22nd MEU in the Haiti earthquake response in January, February and March of this year where we provided the U.S. government’s arm to those who needed it,” said Giegerich, a humanitarian assistance advisor with the OFDA and Titusville, N.J., native. “MEUs in general are going to be the folks we will work with in a disaster response.”

This training course provided a great way to meet the unit’s Marines and understand each key player’s role to better equip the OFDA and DoD team to prepare them for any future catastrophes, added Giegerich.

For more information about USAID, visit the website http://www.usaid.gov.

22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit