With 860 tonnes of Aid to move, comprising of 104,000 blankets, 10,000 tents and 2,400 stoves, the Royal Air Force is providing a vital airlift capability to the earthquake relief effort in Pakistan , as part of the NATO Response Force (NRF).
In the light of worsening weather conditions and an increasing need for further support to the earthquake hit region of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) requested support from the NATO alliance, including one of it's most recent members, Turkey . This alliance meant the UNHCR could use the Turkish Air Force Base at Incirlik as a co-ordination point for the Aid which was brought in by road from UNHCR warehouses in Iskander. The NRF was then able to use the Air Base as a forward operating base for the onward journey to Pakistan .
UKMAMS involvement is best described in the following report on Operation Maturin: Following the catastrophic and extensive earthquake in Pakistan early in October 2005, the country was faced with an enormous humanitarian crisis with thousands of people killed and millions displaced or cut-off. The remote location of most of the population meant that aid distribution was particularly difficult, while the onset of winter presented a further threat to those left without shelter or food. The Squadron was tasked on 15 October 2005 to assist with the Operation and deployed within 3 days, flying a team to Incirlik in Turkey.
Pakistan Prime Minister meets earthquake-relief troops at Downing Street
Secretary Of State John Reid said, "The relief operation confirmed once again the ability of British forces to step up to the mark and do a fantastic job in the harshest of environments. I am tremendously proud of the work of our Armed Forces and delighted that Prime Ministers Blair and Aziz could formally recognise their contribution today."
Corporal Parkin said, "We worked hard at the time and it was fantastic to go to Downing Street and get a personal thank you from two Prime Ministers."
Group Captain Sean Reynolds, Station Commander at Royal Air Force Odiham added, "This was a stunning performance and I am immensely proud of the team from RAF Odiham and what they have achieved."
The Commando Engineers deployed to Bagh in November 2005 at very short notice. Against the huge challenges of the rocky terrain, extreme weather and the chaos caused by the earthquake, the elite lived up to their high reputation and completed, among many others, the following tasks:
The team comprised seventy six members of 59 Independent Commando Squadron Royal Engineers and ten members of 42 Commando Royal Marines – all specialists in mountain and cold weather operations. The team worked under the command of NATO alongside the Pakistan Army and was co-located with a Dutch Army Field Hospital in Bagh. Bagh is on the southern edge of the earthquake epicentre, with approx 80% destruction within the town and the mountain villages on its north side. The Commando Engineers worked in an area measuring 100km by 60km and at between 5,500 to 7,000 feet, often living above the snowline.
The Department for International Development provided additional funding of up to £2.5 million for the deployment of the Commando Engineers. The Ministry of Defence, in support of DFID, also provided relief supplies, medical assistance, and three Chinook helicopters for the delivery of aid and casualty evacuation. 40 other nations have also provided support to Pakistan.