In recent years the frequency and severity of global natural disasters has grown. Most often, the largest airlift responder to these devastated areas is the United States military, chiefly the U.S. Air Force. This sudden, unscheduled marshaling of military assets is not the primary mission of the U.S. military and can cause operational conflicts for the Department of Defense (DoD). In addition, interaction between military lift providers and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) at the disaster site is often unsynchronized and can result in distribution delays of critically needed relief supplies. For example, according to the DoD, it takes at least 96 hours to fully mobilize its response and that is often too long to wait. Moreover, according to this 2005 Congressional Research Service report on Hurricane Katrina, humanitarian relief flights are not the primary mission of the military:
"[W]ith regard to the DoD particularly, the fundamental principle that it is almost always a supporting agency and the resource of last resort may serve to encourage a reactive rather than proactive mode of operation. This principle exists because, for DoD, disaster relief is secondary to its primary mission of national defense, and there has been a traditional concern that any greater emphasis on essentially civilian or non-military operations would detract from its preparedness for its primary mission. Nevertheless, absent the development of greater civilian capabilities in disaster response, the expectation will remain the DoD will provide substantial, if not massive assistance in instances of catastrophic disasters" (CRS report at page 13)
Humanitarian Air Logistics is a non-profit organization that plans to provide a differentiated solution to that dilemma by providing immediate heavy-lift first-responsiveness to anywhere in the world that falls victim to disaster. However, Humanitarian Air Logistics is not yet operational.
Humanitarian Air Logistics’ proposed first-responder response will be quick and efficient. When a deployment request is received from partner organizations a “go team” will immediately be transported to the disaster site via one of our “mobile command post” aircraft capable of providing worldwide secure satellite communications between the “go team” and various government and non-government disaster organizations. A transport aircraft will accompany the mobile command post. That aircraft will carry vehicles, helicopters and supplies which are needed to help the 'go team' conduct local damage assessments and identify needed relief solutions. After this assessment is completed, the next step will be to deploy the company’s remaining fleet of transport aircraft to deliver any identified additional rescue personnel, equipment, food, medical and other relief & recovery supplies. Humanitarian Air Logistics’ eventual fleet is expected to consist of commercial and surplus military transport aircraft.
Humanitarian Air Logistics will provide the disaster support community with a stable and open resource they can plan and train with well in advance of an event. This will provide for quicker, smoother and more effective responses to minimize the loss of human life and suffering.