Urban Search and Rescue teams arrive at Incirlik Air Base

  • Published
  • By Capt Gerald Peden
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Two Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams and a critical aid package in support of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) response operations arrived by aircraft at Incirlik Air Base, Türkiye, Feb. 8, to provide humanitarian assistance to Türkiye following devastating earthquakes that occurred on Feb. 6.

In coordination with U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), 161 USAR personnel, 12 military working dogs and approximately 170,000 lb (77,000 kg) of humanitarian purposed equipment arrived to Incirlik AB on two Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. The 728th Air Mobility Squadron stationed at Incirlik AB supported the U.S. Government efforts in receiving a deployment of USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), a specialized quick reaction force of experts in the disaster and recovery field to integrate with and support Turkish authorities. The DART will assess the situation, identify priority humanitarian needs, and assist with search and rescue.

“We’re committed to assisting Türkiye's affected communities in every way possible as they grieve and begin to recover from the devastation caused by the recent earthquakes," said 39th Air Base Wing Commander, Col. Calvin Powell. "The U.S. Air Force brought United States Agency for International Development’s Disaster Assistance Response Teams from the East and West coasts of the United States to Incirlik Air Base today to join the international effort to assist the people of Türkiye. The Airmen of the 39th Air Base Wing stay ready to respond in support of our allies along NATO’s southern flank.”

Within hours of the earthquake hitting, USAID deployed a DART to lead U.S. government response efforts. USAID also immediately activated locally-based disaster experts who were able to quickly begin assessing needs in coordination with local authorities to inform response efforts and direct assistance to the hardest-hit areas. USAID deployed USAR teams from Fairfax County, Virginia, and Los Angeles County, California, with teams consisting of structural engineers, doctors, logistics personnel and technical search specialists. USTRANSCOM has provided rescue equipment to include concrete breakers, generators, medical supplies, tents, water, and water purification systems.

The U.S. Department of State via the U.S. Mission to Türkiye coordinates all U.S. government support to the Turkish government and the people affected by the earthquake. Jeffry Flake, U.S. Ambassador to Türkiye, visited Incirlik Air Base to greet USAID’s DART as they provided the first wave of humanitarian support.

"Over the past several years, Türkiye has responded to natural disasters in more than 50 countries on five continents and now, the world is returning the favor, with more than 70 countries offering assistance,” said Flake. “Two USAR teams are enroute to assist brave and exhausted Turkish search and rescue teams."

The 39th Air Base Wing and 728th Air Mobility Squadron mission partners are committed to supporting the host nation community as they grieve through the losses caused by the earthquake and recover from the devastation experienced in the region. The wing supports U.S. Mission Türkiye to promote security and stability throughout the region and further the U.S.-Turkish partnerships.