Further updated: More on U.S. navy departure

25 10 2011

Thanks to a reader for pointing to a (belated) response from the U.S. Navy on the withdrawal of its carrier group from an area where it might have provided support for relief operations as flooding continues with almost 360 deaths to date.

Stars and Stripes, which is a

Department of Defense-authorized daily newspaper distributed overseas for the U.S. military community. Editorially independent of interference from outside its own editorial chain-of-command, it provides commercially available U.S. and world news and objective staff-produced stories relevant to the military community in a balanced, fair, and accurate manner. By keeping its audience informed, Stars and Stripes enhances military readiness and better enables U.S. military personnel and their families stationed overseas to exercise their responsibilities of citizenship.

It’s as close to official as it gets. It has a story that seeks to “explain” the withdrawal of the “George Washington Carrier Strike Group and other Navy assets” that PPT posted on yesterday, citing AFP. Stars ans Stripes says that the “assets”

have been released from the waters off Thailand where they were positioned to offer humanitarian assistance after the country was stricken by its worst flooding in decades….

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington and destroyers USS Dewey, USS Wayne E. Meyer, and USS Kidd had been in the area for port visits and exercises in Singapore and Cambodia when the order came Oct. 15 to head towards Thailand – still reeling from three months of heavy monsoon rains….

7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Anthony Falvo told Stars and Stripes: “The response efforts of the highly capable and competent Thai government and military have been sufficient in alleviating immediate concern.” At the same time, “Officials stressed the ships could be recalled to the area should the Thai government make a request for help, and U.S. personnel will continue to monitor the situation…”.

That’s the official story. It’d still be interesting to know which agency – government or military or both – reckon that these potentially large resources were not required and could be sent off across the sea.

Update 1: The Bangkok Post has a report where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs comments on the withdrawal of the U.S. ships. If there was confusion between U.S. and Thai government agencies, there is also confusion in the report. As far as PPT can ascertain from the report, the MFA sheds no light on the issue at all. But perhaps that is exactly the point of the “statement.”

Update 2: Defence Minister Gen Yutthasak Sasiprapa says he has cleared up misunderstandings over this event. He says that Thailand didn’t need helicopters but “sandbags, dried food or even donated money.” Hmmm.



One response

27 10 2011
Getting the story straight on the U.S. navy « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] and citing Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander John Perkins, the Thai government made a remarkably garbled response. This has led to the U.S. Department of Defense getting its story better tuned, and they now […]

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