By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Feb. 08, 2023) -- The U.S. -- including the Defense Department -- has multiple efforts underway to provide assistance to Turkey following devastating earthquakes, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said today.
"In coordination with USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development], the State Department and the interagency, the Department of Defense has responded to the government of Turkey's request for earthquake relief support and will continue to provide support as requested by the Turkish government," Ryder said.
Two massive earthquakes have hit Turkey near its southern border with Syria since Monday. The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes were centered in the Pazarcik and Elbistan districts of Kahramanmaras, according to a Turkish government website. Some reports have said the death toll in Turkey and Syria is approaching 12,000.
On Monday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III offered condolences to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. During the call, Austin offered U.S. support to Turkish relief efforts and pledged ongoing assistance as Turkey's needs evolve.
Yesterday, U.S. rotary wing assets based at Incirlik Airbase in Turkey began transporting first responders to the most impacted populations affected by the earthquakes, Ryder said.
"In addition, DOD transported two civilian urban search and rescue teams from the United States to Turkey," he said. "U.S. Transportation Command supported this movement Tuesday via C-17 from Dover Air Force Base and March Air Force Base to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Those teams arrived Feb. 8 and will soon begin aiding the relief efforts there."
U.S. European Command, Ryder said, is also deploying a team to Incirlik Air Base to assist the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team, and the expectation is that the team will be in place tomorrow. Eucom is also working to pre-position additional assets to support relief efforts and respond to new requests from the Turkish government, he added.
"We offer our sincere condolences, and we'll stand with our ally Turkey as they work to save lives and recover from this horrific disaster," Ryder said.