Updated: 26-Sep-2005 NATO Speeches


20 Sep. 2005

Helping the US cope with Katrina's aftermath

Video interview with Maurits Jochems,
NATO's Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Operations


Q: Mr. Jochems, welcome. Thank you for coming to answer some questions today. First of all, how did NATO get involved in assisting the U.S. following Hurricane Katrina?

MAURITS Jochems (Deputy Assistant Secretary General, OPS): As you know, the NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre is always in business if there are emergencies. So they have been following Katrina as from the outset... in making an inventory of what other nations have offered from the outset of the disaster. And later, after the NATO Council took a decision that NATO would support, also through the NATO Response Force, NATO also got involved in that.

Q: This isn't the first time that NATO has taken part in a humanitarian effort, is it?

Jochems: Oh no, absolutely not. Many disasters, unfortunately, mostly disasters by nature. And only this year, NATO has already been involved in nine emergencies. The most striking examples are the floods in both Bulgaria and Romania of this year.

Q: Can you tell me if it took a long time for the Allies to decide on this assistance? I mean was there any reluctance to help the richest Ally?

Jochems: As I indicated, the.... most nations had already, all by themselves, offered the United States help. And after NATO got involved through the NATO Response Force, many... I think by now almost 40 nations have offered help.

Q: I see. Mr. Jochems, what exactly is NATO providing to the U.S.A.?

Jochems: Yeah, apart from the clearing house function of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordinator Centre, NATO is now providing both tactical and strategical airlift. That means from nations, both NATO allies and partners who have offered help, the goods are being transported to Ramstein Air Base in Germany by short-haul aircraft; that's obvious. And then strategic aircrafts transports the goods to Little Rock Air Base in the United States.

Q: Little Rock...

Jochems: ... Air Base.

Q: ... Arkansas.

Jochems: Arkansas, yes.

Q: Can you describe the role of the NRF in this effort?

Jochems: Yes, this is actually new, that, apart from the role of the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, NATO now also has made actual means at the disposal of a stricken country. What the NATO Response Force has in its inventory is a lot, from engineer units to strategic aircraft, to strategic sealift, Ro/Ro ships. In this case, the United States, in this particular crisis, the United States only needed the strategic airlift of the NRF.

Q: Thank you very much indeed for taking some time to speak to us today.

Jochems: You're welcome.

Q: Thanks.

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