ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON —
In the week since the disaster, the Philippines has started to receive support from military forces around the region. Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan have sent aircraft or personnel and more support is expected soon from Brunei, Great Britain, New Zealand and Thailand.
But none has come close to matching the U.S. Equally importantly, America's regional rival China has not sent any military personnel, and contributed relatively tiny financial aid.
"This is being done in a big way that highlights the meager response of China — that's the politics there. They're saying China is not actually your friend in the region," said Casiple
"I'm sure China is watching and assessing," he said. China announced Sunday it is ready to send rescue and medical teams to the Philippines, but did not say when the teams would depart.
For U.S. allies like the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand and to some extent Indonesia, it is an affirmation of the U.S. commitment. For others — Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar who are more closely aligned with China — he said the mission is a not-so-subtle message that the U.S remains the biggest power in the region.
Within hours of the typhoon, U.S. Marines were on their way from their bases in Japan to assess the damage and plan out their response. Within days, the George Washington was pulling out of Hong Kong to lead its half-dozen ship battle group to the Gulf of Leyte. By the time they arrived, the U.S. Air Force was already in action.
According to the Marines, U.S. military aircraft have put in nearly 480 flight hours in 186 aircraft sorties, moved nearly 1,200 relief workers into the devastated city of Tacloban and have airlifted nearly 2,900 displaced people from the affected areas. On Saturday alone, they delivered more than 118 tons of food, water and shelter items to Tacloban, Borongan and Guiuan — some of the hardest-hit regions.