American Generosity

The instapundit has a blurb on Obama criticizing Americans for their self centeredness. Glenn rightfully mentions the massive outpouring of aid from private American citizens both generally, and in the case of the 2005 tsunami, specifically.

And while Americans privately gave a billion dollars, I want to focus just a moment on the main aspect of the US governments aid. The US Navy was the primary respondent, with assistance from the other services. Unknowing critics scoffed at the idea of sending an aircraft carrier and its escorts as aid. They showed their ignorance.

Humanitarian aid is primarly a function of logistics. You need to  get stuff to people and people to treatment. Few organizations are better at logistics than the military. And while  a Carrier Strike Group isn’t specifically geared toward that, it brings some unique capabilities to the arena.

Just about all our carriers are nuclear powered. If they aren’t using the nuc plant to make steam for propulsion or the catapults, they can use that power for other stuff. Like making pure water. Lots of it. And what do you know, there’s a great big airfield on the roof for choppers to fly that water ashore! And not only does the carrier itself have helicopters, its escorts have some too.

A carrier strike group also has a significant ability for medical treatment. Each carrier has a pretty well equipped hospital on board, and for short periods, can surge its capacity and even deploy elements of it ashore.

They also have terrific communications available to coordinate efforts. There is no time wasted in setting up a system and no associated overhead costs. Nor do they have to bring in manpower at enormous expense. There is virtually no overhead costs that weren’t going to be incurred anyway.

And this wasn’t a one time deal. We’ve seen the Navy and the other services provide assistance and relief in other disasters as well. Like Katrina. How many times did the news show Army, Navy and Marine helicopters rescuing people. How many times have you  seen the National Guard helping to fill sandbags before a flood on the Mississippi?

One little publicized part of virtually every carrier deployment is when the crew performs humanitarian missions such as building schools in the Third World. Many sailors forgo precious time off to donate their labor and skills to these projects. Why? Because they think it is the right thing to do.

The Navy is currently sending one of its two hospital ships to Georgia as humanitarian aid. The other is on a goodwill tour providing services in far off lands.

Now, all this ain’t cheap. But by and large, the taxpayers of our nation feel it is a pretty good use of our money. Does the good Senator take this in mind when he damns our self centeredness? I wonder.