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Air Force Delivers Search-and-Rescue Teams to Mexico After Quake

A Travis Air Force Base C-17 delivers a US Agency for International Development elite disaster team to Mexico City, September 20, 2017. (Photo: US Air Force/Air Mobility Command)
A Travis Air Force Base C-17 delivers a US Agency for International Development elite disaster team to Mexico City, September 20, 2017. (Photo: US Air Force/Air Mobility Command)

The U.S. Air Force sent a C-17 Globemaster III filled with search-and-rescue teams, disaster relief personnel, and thousands of pounds of supplies and equipment to Mexico City on Wednesday night as the city grapples with its latest earthquake aftermath.

The airlift cargo plane from Travis Air Force Base, California, carried the United States Agency for International Development's elite disaster team, including 60 members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue team, five search dogs and 62,000 pounds of equipment and medical supplies, Air Mobility Command officials said in a release Thursday.

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the heart of Mexico on Tuesday, killing hundreds and crippling the capital's infrastructure, including major roadways.

The news of the recent delivery comes after weeks of back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico over relief aid and supplies.

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Mexico withdrew its offer to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas after an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck the country's Pacific coast Sept. 8, just weeks before the latest devastation in Mexico City.

Mexico's foreign ministry said it first offered aid to the U.S. on Aug 28, but that the U.S. embassy took nine days to respond, Reuters reported.

Gray Tail Diplomacy

Four C-17 aircraft recently transported approximately 300 health care personnel in preparation for Hurricane Irma disaster response operations -- even as parts of Florida were still evacuating before the Category 4 storm hit Sept. 10.

The delivery to Mexico is the type of "gray tail diplomacy" that Gen. Carlton Everhart III, head of AMC, likes to see.

"Any time an Air Mobility Command aircraft arrives somewhere around the globe, it signals U.S. values and resolve," Everhart said earlier this year.

"Gray tail diplomacy achieves powerful effects. Whether it's our C-17s delivering hope or relief via supplies or equipment or ensuring the president is able to get to any place on the globe, we'll get them there," he said.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.