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Things Are Not What They Seem

Port au Prince Airport
(Picture from Google Map satellite view)

That is the Port au Prince airport, and the situation there is a US problem because the US built it with this crappy design. As is obvious, anything larger than a Cessna has to do a 180° turn after roll out on landing and exit via that central taxiway to the terminal area. That ties up the runway. The aircraft taking off have to enter the runway, taxi to the end and then execute a 180° turn to start their take off roll, again, tying up the runway. This was not designed for efficiency.

The problems have led some to claim the US is hogging the airport. Hey, if someone else wanted to control the airport, all they had to do was send in a team to get it up and running.

The Brazilians are thumping their chests about leading the UN Security mission, to which I say, wonderful, so lead already.

People are claiming that the US is fixated on security, pointing to the special arrangements to get the troops from the 82nd Airborne Division into Haiti on a priority basis. The problem is that the 82nd isn’t in the country for security: they set up a landing zone at country club near the US embassy that enabled supplies to be air-dropped by C-17 transports, and then transferred to helicopters for distribution, increasing the amount of supplies in the country and relieving some of the pressure on the airport.

There are about 2,000 Marines arriving by sea shortly, but I hope no one is counting on them for security, because they are bringing heavy equipment with them to start cleaning up so the rebuilding can take place.

The Coast Guard has already started working on clearing up the port facilities so they can be used.

Unless someone specifically asks for US security assistance, it doesn’t look like Southern Command is going to provide any, other than for their sites. I’m sure some people are going to have a fit over that.

11 comments

1 Bryan { 01.19.10 at 1:53 pm }

The only way you would have ever heard a disparaging word about the Shrubbery from the M$M was in your imagination. The corporate owned and controlled US media never had a bad word to say about ‘Dubya’, no matter how bad things got, nor the abysmal level of incompetence the administration display. The media always found a scapegoat to avoid any criticism of the “Decider”.

Just ask the Dixie Chicks what happened to people who criticized Bush II.

2 Kryten42 { 01.19.10 at 9:13 pm }

LMAO OK… that was funny!! 😀

The only criticism of the Bushmoron and his moronic evil minions was that he wasn’t evil enough! They would have been ecstatic if he’d nuked Iraq, iran and Afghanistan! The fact that it would have started WW3 would have just made them laugh. After all, the USA has Darth Cheney, Rambamby, da Gubbernator, Kapitain Amerika, De XXX-Men, Badman and Stupidman! Not to mention John Wayne (in spirit anyway) and the Loan Arranger. LMAO

You are a funny guy Mr Duff! (And I did need a laugh today… Thanks for the comic relief!)

PMSL

3 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 01.19.10 at 10:33 pm }

…this may highlight one of the disturbing suggestions of failure in MSM reporting about this crisis: I distinctly heard a report this morning about how one thing that would improve the situation would be to open up “some of the other runways” so that C-130’s could operate off of them. Looking at the sat photo, I’m not sure where those “other runways” are supposed to be…

4 Bryan { 01.19.10 at 11:02 pm }

They are looking at two other airports, with much shorter runways, from which C-130s might be able to operate, but nothing bigger. Only one of them is in Haiti, the other is in the Dominican Republic, and you still have the problem of the roads being barely adequate for large vehicles.

Setting up the drop zone for the C-17s is the best interim solution, and they can drop vehicles that way, or by rolling out the back in a zero level pass if there are no obstructions [basically not quite landing and rolling the cargo out the back door].

Haiti is a mountainous country, there isn’t a lot of flat land for airstrips.

I just checked and the airports they are contemplating using are both on the North coast, the Cap Haitien at 5000 feet and the Monte Cristi in the DR at 4000 feet. So they have to truck stuff from the North coast all the way to the South to get to Port au Prince.

5 Badtux { 01.20.10 at 6:27 pm }

That airport is seriously whack. No taxiways from the ends of the runway to the cargo and passenger terminals? What kinda drugs were those gangstas who designed it smokin’?!

The most effective way to get cargo in is by ship, but the port facilities got rubbelized pretty good. But surely the Navy has some landing craft that can land cargo onto beaches? Or are Marines supposed to walk on water nowdays too, along with all their other responsibilities?

– Badtux the Aquatic Penguin

6 Bryan { 01.20.10 at 9:55 pm }

I checked around, especially looking at the airport that the Cubans built on Grenada, and that seems to be the predominant plan for Caribbean airports. The military builds a parallel taxiway, because that’s a quick way to expand an existing airport in an emergency.

The US paid for it under some program or another, and it was probably built by KBR.

There is a Navy amphibious group, that should have arrived recently that has the capability of putting a docking system, as well as having amphibious vehicles on board. So far the Marines have been coming in by helicopter.

I’ve seen several pictures that were labeled 82nd, but they looked like Marines to me, although most were too far away to see insignia or subdued patches.

7 jams O'Donnell { 01.21.10 at 3:28 am }

Bloody hell! It wasn’t designed with Heathrow level traffic in mind and that’s for sure. THen again even if Haiti had an airport ike LHR I doubt aid would be delivered to the needy any much quicker given the state of communications.

Even though there will be mistakes (an inevitability in an operation of this scale) what the US military are doing is definitely to be praised.

8 Bryan { 01.21.10 at 12:21 pm }

It wasn’t designed as a military field, either, which is why the US just made a deal with the Dominican Republic to get landing rights at their San Isidro Air Base, which is 150 miles East of Port au Prince. It is the standard runway with parallel taxiway design that allows for high volume take-offs and landings.

Fortunately, the US is doing what they are asked in Haiti, and not trying to take over. They starting providing security to some sites after they were asked by the Haitian government and/or UN, rather than insisting on it.

It’s nice to know that they realized that people need to control their own fates and make their own decisions. The US needs to act like a friend, and not like a parent.

9 Kryten42 { 01.21.10 at 6:13 pm }

Yes. They are doing quite well given the terrible situation. Kudos.

It’s amazing that they are still finding survivors, especially children. They must make the kids tough there! 🙂 That helps spur on the rescue workers, not that the need it. But it’s easy to get disheartened in these situations. Very tough work.

10 Bryan { 01.21.10 at 8:20 pm }

We both know that you can last more than a month without food, it is dehydration that is the enemy. I assume that the shock has shut their systems down, and they are in a state like hibernation that reduces moisture loss, also the last few have been severely dehydrated.

There are bound to be air pockets in slab buildings, but there is a lot of concrete to move, and not enough equipment to do it.

Still, you make the effort because there is always a chance.

11 Wrong, Just Wrong!! — Why Now? { 01.24.10 at 10:59 pm }

[…] talked about the C-17 drops in my post, Things Are Not What They Seem, and they are taking place in a designated drop zone that was set up by the 82nd Airborne at a […]