NOTE: Previous posts in this series are here: (1) (2) (3) (4).
It's a fact that the U.N. and various NGO's simply don't have all the logistical capability needed to move and support their personnel around the world.
So, how do these groups sustain themselves in far-off tsunami-hit locations like Sumatra? Sometimes, they turn to the U.S. military.
And they're about as appreciative for the help as you'd expect. A U.S. Navy officer serving with the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group recounts his experience with relief "workers" aboard the Lincoln earlier this month:
As I went through the breakfast line, I overheard one of the U.N. strap-hangers, a longhaired guy with a beard, make a sarcastic comment to one of our food servers. He said something along the lines of “Nice china, really makes me feel special,” in reference to the fact that we were eating off of paper plates that day. It was all I could do to keep from jerking him off his feet and choking him, because I knew that the reason we were eating off paper plates was to save dishwashing water so that we would have more water to send ashore and save lives. That plus the fact that he had no business being there in the first place...There's more, all of it sickening, including the diversion of military resources to fly the likes of Dan Rather's entourage and MTV "reporters" around the region, the hostility of the Indonesian government itself, and the detrimental impact of the relief effort on our military preparedness.
When they got to Sumatra with no plan, no logistics support and no five-star hotels to stay in, they threw themselves on the mercy of the U.S. Navy, which, unfortunately, took them in. I guess our senior brass was hoping for some good PR since this was about the time that the U.N. was calling the United States “stingy” with our relief donations.
As a result of having to host these people, our severely over-tasked SH-60 Seahawk helos, which were carrying tons of food and water every day to the most inaccessible places in and around Banda Aceh, are now used in great part to ferry these “relief workers” from place to place every day and bring them back to their guest bedrooms on the Lincoln at night. Despite their avowed dedication to helping the victims, these relief workers will not spend the night in-country, and have made us their guardians by default.
When our wardroom treasurer approached the leader of the relief group and asked him who was paying the mess bill for all the meals they ate, the fellow replied, "We aren’t paying, you can try to bill the U.N. if you want to."
Many countries around the world have given generously in the wake of December's tsunamis. Is there any country besides the U.S., though, who would give so much -- not just in money, but in time, effort, and resources -- while simultaneously being so offhandedly disparaged and exploited?
It's a good thing for the people of Indonesia that America's generosity outweighs her pride. It's unfortunate, however, that some of that generosity is being squandered on caring for self-serving reporters and so-called relief workers who can't pull their own weight.
(A Riding Sun helmet nod to gbfan001 for the tip)