EARTHQUAKE -- January 17, 2010 at 6:03 PM ET
Obama Authorizes Military Reserves for Haiti Response
President Barack Obama Sunday issued an executive order mobilizing selected military reserves, including medical staff to work from hospital ships and Coast Guard personnel, to bolster aid efforts in Haiti.
He wrote it is "necessary to augment the active Armed Forces of the United States for the effective conduct of operational missions, including those involving humanitarian assistance, related to relief efforts in Haiti."
The military presence on the ground has been growing, and aid agencies are beginning to distribute water and provisions to survivors. But bottlenecks at the Port-au-Prince airport and coordination between the many international groups with presence on the ground has meant sporadic distribution.
Army General P.K. Keen told CNN Sunday that 1,000 troops are on the ground helping with the rescue and aid efforts, with more companies set to arrive Sunday and about 3,600 supporting from offshore carriers.
"We are building up capacity every day and getting what we need in order to accomplish the mission," he said.
But aid agencies are still running into road blocks in their efforts to get the supplies they need in place. Doctors Without Borders reported Sunday that a plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital and other medical supplies was not allowed to land at the Port-au-Prince airport, which is being operated by the U.S. military. The plane was diverted instead to the Dominican Republic, which the organization says will cause a 24-hour delay.
Brazil and France lodged an official complaint with the United States on Sunday, reported the Guardian, for giving U.S. planes priority and diverting those from other nations. The World Food Program has also complained that the U.S. priorities were not in sync with aid agencies.
Keen disagreed with the notion on "Meet the Press" Sunday, saying, "I think the priorities are in sync, but it's a, a balance, it's a balance between getting the quantities of relief supplies that are so desperately needed, getting the logistical and people here that we need to get those supplies out to the area, as well as getting the forces here that you need for security."
And concerns about the security situation have certainly not abated. There were reports of looters being shot by police and Haiti's President Preval broke down the math of the security situation for reporters Sunday.
"We have 2,000 police in Port-au-Prince who are severely affected. And 3,000 bandits escaped from prison (during the quake). This gives you an idea of how bad the situation is," he said.