Navy Capt. Rodger Welch, the chief of U.S. Pacific Command's Joint Interagency Coordination Group in Hawaii, said Indonesia "is the most impacted area" and the country will "require the most assets." The USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Battle Group
is operating off the island of Sumatra, and helicopters assigned to the group are ferrying supplies into the region and flying casualties out of the area.Assessment teams in Aceh will decide what other assistance the sailors and Marines aboard the ships can provide. The USS Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group
also is rushing to the area and is expected to enter the Straits of Malacca in a few days.The group is scheduled to move to Sri Lanka, but Welch
said that may change as more information becomes available."Some of the ships may go to Sri Lanka, while others go to different areas," he
said during a teleconference from Hawaii.
Operations in the region are complicated.In Aceh, only daylight operations are possible, and pilots must fly using visual flight rules.Other areas are better equipped, and the assessment teams are trying to ascertain the status of airfields not only in Indonesia, but also around the Indian Ocean rim.
More military airlifters will go to the region, Welch
said.Two to four C-17 Globemaster III cargo jets will help in the effort, as will six more C-130 Hercules transports.Twelve more helicopters - six CH-53s and six CH-46s - are moving to the area.The C-130s and helicopters already on the scene are ferrying relief supplies to the hardest-hit areas, Welch
noted that the helicopters are incredibly important, because in many cases supplies have arrived at airports, but could not be distributed out of the area.The helicopters will solve that problem, he