Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another Disaster, Another Mission

One good thing about engineer and logistic units is that they can be put to practical use even when there's no combat or training. With Chile battling the "white earthquake," a devastating snowy season, army units have been busy providing aid. Earlier this month, for example, troops broke through to a town in the area of Quinquén (in the south of Chile) that had been isolated for a week. In the north, where rare snowstorms caught everyone by surprise, an army patrol marched 11 hours to rescue a bus with Bolivians that was stuck in the snow. Air force UH-1H helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft have flown in relief supplies to various communities. But every disaster exposes a shortcoming, and in this case it's the concentration of military helicopters in strategic areas, such as Punta Arenas in the extreme south, Santiago and the air bases in Antofagasta and Iquique. Helicopter units have been moved quickly, however, to trouble spots in earlier disasters.

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