I have a deep and abiding love for our men and women who serve our country in uniform. Most of my minority was spent as a Navy Brat and I am married to a man who did his requisite stint during the Vietnam Era, also in the Navy. Of course, each branch of the military thinks they are the best, the special, the chosen, but the Marines… well… they are Special.
Never have I met a current, or former Marine (some say there is no such thing as a former Marine), that I didn't instantly peg him as being such. Sorry ladies, I have never met a woman who served in the Marines.
I often dwell on the Military's role during a severe pandemic, in my mind, on the forums, and in this blog. The men and women in uniform will be the biggest chunk of the Federal Government's response to the societal and humanitarian issues that will likely arise. The concept is a sound one, after all, no other organization, in the world, is better able or better equipped to address those issues.
The problem, the huge, insurmountable, ignored problem, is that there is just not enough military to go around.
In total, the men and women under uniform, or readily made so, comprise no more than 1% of the American population. That's in total.
I have read references over this past year to the government's commitments to the idea of providing assistance to other nations during a severe pandemic. When I read them I have always experienced this split personality, one part wanted to laugh, hysterically, and the other wanted to scream in despair… and then slap someone up-side the head (as we say here in the South) for blatant stupidity on a grand scale.
There is little doubt that much of our critical infrastructure will be strained, under-provisioned, and under staffed, perhaps to the point of collapse.
Should our power generation and water systems fail US citizens will be looking to the military to make it better. Should our food deliveries significantly slow, or stop, US citizens will be looking to the military to make it better. Should social order break down US citizens will be looking to the military to make it better. On and on and on, in every sector of critical need of a modern society we will be looking to our military men and women to make it better.
We will be looking to one percent to save the other ninety-nine percent of us. I will readdress the fallacy of even that one percent in another post of this planned series, but for now, it suits for illustration purposes anyway.
III MEF ready to respond if avian flu pandemic hits
By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Monday, April 9, 2007
CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa — If the avian flu becomes a real pandemic threat to humans, especially in the Western Pacific, the III Marine Expeditionary Force will be ready.
During a recent humanitarian relief deployment to the Philippines, MEF corpsmen tested technology a Portsmouth, N.H., firm developed for almost instant tracking of vital information that in the past would take days or even weeks to analyze.
And a team of Marines and sailors has developed a detailed pandemic influenza response plan for Okinawa.
Global Relief Technologies was awarded a $3.5 million contract last fall to provide about 120 PDAs — hand-held computer devices — to the Marine Corps, which at any time has personnel scattered on deployments throughout Southeast Asia. The region is considered ground zero for the bird flu that could one day mutate and become the next great human pandemic.
The equipment, along with accompanying computers and satellite hookups, was delivered to the 3rd Medical Battalion before they deployed last month for a humanitarian mission to southeast Luzon, the Philippines island where some 15,000 people lived in camps after being displaced following a series of natural disasters in December.
"This initiative is driven by the need to collect and record data for tracking the avian flu — and any other humanitarian crisis — quickly and accurately," said Navy Capt. David Lane, Force Surgeon for the III MEF. "It worked exceedingly well."
Continues at link….
Bless the Marines.
Bless the Marines, and slap their leaders upside the head. Just what are they thinking?
These are men and women who are presumed to have the highest risk of death from H5N1 solely because of their age bracket. These are men and women who, if left in their OCONUS duty assignments, will be left in crumbling countries with little or no infrastructure remaining, with little or no government left standing, with no advanced medical treatment facilities, and little or no resupply, and quite possibly sick and dying.
They will be on foreign soil, attempting to Band Aide a hopeless situation, meanwhile their fellow citizens will have their own hopeless situation(s) that will be in desperate need of those very Band Aides.
Bless the Marines. They don't understand the phrase "hopeless situation". And for those responsible for this action plan… consider yourselves slapped up-side the head by a Southern Mother.