WASHINGTON — Stars and Stripes is scheduled to begin delivering editions of the paper in Haiti starting this weekend, making it the first daily newspaper available to U.S. troops deployed there since the Jan. 12 earthquake devastated the island nation.

Newspapers will be printed in Florida and flown from Homestead Air Reserve Base daily to key military hubs in Haiti. Lt. Col. Autum Whalen, Stars and Stripes’ Pacific support group commander, said the daily press run will start at 1,000 copies and ramp up rapidly in coming weeks.

Stars and Stripes Publisher Max Lederer called the decision to follow U.S. military forces into Haiti a critical part of the newspaper’s mission.

“Stars and Stripes news is one of the pieces that help create a sense of normalcy for our personnel in Haiti,” he said. “Providing needed information about operations to the personnel involved and providing content, which helps the men and women release tension, is essential.”

Lederer said newspaper representatives have worked closely with military officials to ensure timely delivery of the papers without interfering with ongoing relief operations in the beleaguered nation.

Plans call for copies of the daily newspaper to be available at dining facilities, command headquarters and other common areas for the major units operating around the country.

The distribution model follows similar efforts in the past to deliver Stars and Stripes in the early phases of the U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nearly 70,000 copies of Stars and Stripes are currently distributed each day to troops downrange in the Middle East, carried along front-line routes that are sometimes so dangerous that contract workers have been killed trying to deliver the paper.

Stars and Stripes has had a reporter in Haiti covering military operations since shortly after U.S. forces arrived there.

In addition, Whalen said the paper will send a circulation manager to coordinate delivery and distribution of the paper.

Nearly 20,000 U.S. military personnel are currently stationed in or around Haiti for ongoing recovery and humanitarian efforts.

Most of the areas hardest hit by the earthquake remain without electricity or sanitation services, and government officials there estimate more than 2 million Haitians are now homeless as a result of the tragedy.

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