KATHMANDU, Nepal — The U.S. Pacific Command has activated a joint task force that will include 500 personnel deployed to Nepal in support of earthquake relief operations.
Pacific Command leader Adm. Samuel J. Locklear on Wednesday appointed III Marine Expeditionary Force commander Lt. Gen. John Wissler to head Joint Task Force 505, which will follow on from the initial U.S. military response to a 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, according to a JTF-505 news release. More than 7,500 people have died.
"We are here at the request of, and in support of, the government of Nepal as they deal with this terrible tragedy," Wissler said in the statement. "We will continue to provide support as part of the overall U.S. government and international response as long as our unique capabilities can support the government of Nepal and remain in partnership with the Nepalese army."
The Task Force will support ongoing disaster relief operations with an Air Force Contingency Response Group, three Marine Corps UH-1Y Huey helicopters, four Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, four Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and two Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules transport aircraft, as well as various ground and aviation command-and-control capabilities, the statement said.
JTF-505 officials expect 500 U.S. military personnel will be needed in Nepal to support the mission.
A forward headquarters in Kathmandu will coordinate U.S. military relief efforts. The task force will work with representatives from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other agencies to respond to requests from Nepal’s government, the statement said.