Philippine Air Force Taking Over Control of Typhoon Relief Air Operations

The Philippine Air Force announced yesterday that it will assume responsibility for coordinating humanitarian airlift operations, a move that no longer requires Joint Task Force 505?s assistance with command and control of air assets supporting Operation Damayan for Typhoon Yolanda victims.

A U.S. Air Force C-130H aircraft delivered the last shipment of USAID to Tacloban Airport last November, 23, 2013, and a passenger service from the airport is at a sustainable level by Philippine air assets, officials said.

The move coincides with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announcing yesterday that it will take the helm it shared with the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander in coordinating all maritime assets assisting the typhoon relief effort.

The announcement initiates the retrograde of Joint Task Force 505?s Air Component Coordination Element, which stood up November 16, 2103 to assist the effort initially led by 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

“The ACCE has met all air coordination requirements and assistance benchmarks set by the Philippine government and the JTF,” said Lt. Gen Lauro Catalino dela Cruz, Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force. “The PAF is thankful for their support during the initial and surge response phases, but we are confident that their assistance is no longer required,” he added.

Brig. Gen. James Hecker, commander of ACCE JTF-505, said it was an honor to bring the ACCE’s unique capability to bear alongside joint and coalition partners during Operation Damayan.

“Our ability to coordinate scalable joint and multinational air assets allowed us to augment the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade’s established processes supporting the Philippine government’s airlift mission,” Hecker said. “With aid now in place where it needs to be, and the lines of communication improving at sea and on the ground every day, the demand for large-scale command and control has ceased. The PAF is fully capable with the scope of the operation where it’s at now, and we will continue supporting them in our normal Pacific theater Joint Force Air Component Commander role.”

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