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US marines now numbering 250

December 10, 2004

MANILA (PNA) -- American Marine soldiers doing relief and humanitarian assistance to Filipino typhoon victims have reached 250, a United States military spokesperson said Thursday.

In an interview, Navy Capt. Dennis Williams, US Pacific Command liaison officer, said the American soldiers have started arriving since Tuesday night and set up temporary base at Clark Airfield in Pampanga.

"Our forces would be here for as long as the government of the Philippines wishes them to," Williams told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

A total of 600 American troops from the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade based in Okinawa, Japan are expected to assist in the relief operations being conducted by Philippine disaster officials in the typhoon-ravaged towns of Infanta, Real and General Nakar in Quezon.

Several aircraft are expected to land at Clark Airfield, including Chinook helicopters.

Lt. Jasmine Templeton, brigade spokesperson, said the remaining 350 Marines are expected to fly in by Friday.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, brigade commander, said what they are here for is primarily to provide support in transporting relief goods as well as heavy equipment to the affected sites.

"We're providing immediate support to the most affected areas... immediate medical, food and other supplies that are required to get them (victims) back on their feet," Glueck said in a news briefing in Camp Aguinaldo.

Glueck met with officials of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) to receive an assessment briefing on the extent of damage and determine the areas where the US choppers would be needed.

Williams maintained that security precautions have been taken into consideration in venturing into Quezon province, a known rebel-infested region.

"As always, US military when it plans and deploys on a mission (has a) security force protection (unit). The well-being of our troops, our sailors, our airmen is the number one concern and in any plan, any program that we undertake, those considerations are made and attended and provided," Williams said.

"We'll also be working again with the Armed Forces of the Philippines who is providing force protection as well as security support for our requirements as well," he added.


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