Two Armies – One Mission
The following was submitted by The Salvation Army’s Stacy Howard, who is serving as the Public Information Officer for Haiti Incident Command in Port-au-Prince:
“Both armies wear a uniform; both are respected as two of the most organized groups in the world; both have a common mission in Haiti.
The Salvation Army’s goal is to help survivors of the massive quake with a hand up – to provide support through basic need, medical and spiritual assistance. The U.S. Army’s Haiti Relief Mission: Provide humanitarian support to the country’s surviving population, most of which have been injured or affected by the earthquake in some way. Together the two armies have formed a unique and powerful partnership since the quake. Together they assist, aid, protect and serve.
“The Salvation Army was receptive and there was mutual respect,” said Lt. Cody Tinsley, 1 Platoon, A Company, 2 Battalion, 325 Air Infantry Regiment regarding the first of what became many joint missions of food distribution. As the platoon leader, Tinsley led operations that included safely escorting The Salvation Army staff and distribution items via military convoy and security for the nearly 8,000 displaced families. While the U.S. military took charge of security measures, The Salvation Army ran the distribution. At the twice-a-week event, nearly 16,000 people received boxed meals provided by Numana, buckets and bottles of cooking oil.
As expected immediately after the quake, disorder and chaos ensued from thousands who rushed for the items. Tinsley said together, both Armies quickly controlled the situation after assessing the needs and safety issues of all involved.
Once distributions became a regular mission of the Armies, the ebb and flow made it simple for families to be served. At post-mission debriefings the two Armies discussed ways to improve distribution, shared ideas and came up with a plan that worked for everyone, Tinsley said. Because of mutual respect and trust, each Army let the other take the lead in the area they knew best.
In the end, the Haitian disaster relief is a humanitarian mission for both Armies. Despite the sometimes intimidating appearance the U.S. military might portray, as Tinsley said, they adapt to the mission. They realize this is not a war zone. They aren’t here to occupy, they’re here to protect and serve – and at times, even entertain.
Several members of the platoon played music and danced to entertain the families in line. The children’s faces lit up. Tinsley said it’s important to remind the survivors we’re all here to help – whether it’s with food, security or a little comedic relief.
The Salvation Army has been in Haiti since 1950, and will remain. The U.S. Army will also stay as long as they’re needed to provide support. Whether in Haiti, or elsewhere in the world, The Salvation Army and U.S. Army have and will continue to partner during disaster relief operations with a joint goal: Restore humanity and hope.
Two armies – one mission.”