US to trim army in 3-6 months

2010-01-26 19:08

Washington - The US military could begin scaling back its involvement in Haiti within three to six months as other international organisations assume larger roles providing security and disaster relief, senior Pentagon officials said on Tuesday.

Vice Admiral Alan Thompson, director of the Defence Logistics Agency, said military leaders envisioned a "six-month window ... of intense support" from the Pentagon in response to the January 12 earthquake that killed up to 200 000 people and left hundreds of thousands injured and homeless.

He described the US military as committed to providing humanitarian and security support "until other organisations can take over the role".

But he added: "My sense would be that probably in the three-to-six-month time period would be when there would be efforts to try to transition some of the support."

Work in progress

Pentagon officials said the relief effort was a work in progress and that the timetable for any reduction in US military involvement could change.

"That [time-frame] is certainly a good logistics planning window but the US military is committed to being there as long as we're needed," said John Kirby, spokesperson for the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Pentagon has dispatched more than 15 000 military personnel to Haiti of which some 4 700 are on the ground.

Thompson's Defence Logistics Agency is rushing 14 million meal packages to Haiti as part of the relief effort, he said.