U.S. Government and Aid Groups Rush Support to Haiti

President Obama promises a swift response to Haiti's earthquake victims.

ByABC News
January 13, 2010, 7:50 AM

Jan. 13, 2010— -- President Obama promised quake battered Haitians today the U.S. will rush to their aid with a "swift, coordinated, and aggressive response."

He dispatched several U.S. ships to the area, including some which will be offshore of Haiti by today. U.S. planes flew over Haiti early today to help assess damage, and the president was briefed about Haiti the first thing this morning. In addition, he named U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah to coordinate American efforts.

"I pledge to the people of Haiti, you have a friend and partner in the United States," Obama said at a White House news conference.

Addressing Americans, he said, "We have to be there for them in their hour of need." He urged Americans, despite their own hard times, to go to www.whitehouse.gov to find out how they can contribute to Haitian relief funds.

Among the first U.S. units to arrive will be the U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Wing which will help to provide air traffic control at Port-au-Prince's crippled airport for the relief flights that are expected to rush supplies and personnel to Haiti.

Click here for complete coverage of Haiti's devastating earthquake

Four U.S. Coast Guard cutters are due offshore today, loaded with food, water, and medical supplies. The Coast Guard also deployed reconnaissance planes early today to survey the damage across the island and locate possible staging areas.

A team of 30 specialists, including U.S. military engineers, operational planners, and communication specialists, will land in Port-au-Prince today aboard two C-130 Hercules aircraft.

In addition, the Navy's aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson has been ordered to Haiti. It will pick up helicopters along the way which would facilitate ferrying supplies to Haiti and to areas outside the capital.The Vinson is expected to arrive off the coast of Haiti by Thursday afternoon.

Gen. Douglas Fraser said the U.S. was "really looking" at the possibility of sending troops to aid U.N. relief efforts. Fraser said that a brigade and other units were being put on alert. A brigade consists of between 3,500 to 5,000 troops.