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ARLINGTON, Va. — The U.S. military is preparing to expand its humanitarian mission in Georgia, with plans under way to use ships as well as aircraft to ferry relief supplies in the coming weeks, according to the senior military logistics planner for the effort.

"We anticipate that the scope of the operation, and the needs, will grow," Navy Rear Adm. Steven Romano, European Command Director of Logistics, told reporters in a Friday conference call with reporters from Stuttgart, Germany.

As a result, Romano said, "we are positioning and planning to respond to that growth, using strategic airlift and increasing [both] capacity and supplies."

U.S. Naval forces, meanwhile, are making plans to deliver supplies through the Black Sea to Georgian ports, although Romano did not say which ports, or which U.S. ships, might be used.

Naval planners also have an option to use pre-positioned assets in the Mediterranean, he said, but again, did not offer specifics.

As of Friday, the Pentagon had sent a total of four transport aircraft, loaded with 86 short-tons of relief supplies, from Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.

The supplies had been pre-positioned by the State Department in case of a generic emergency in the U.S. Army Medical Material Center Europe’s Humanitarian Assistance Program Warehouse in Pirmasens, near Ramstein, Romano said.

The U.S. State Department is the lead federal agency for the humanitarian mission to Georgia, with EUCOM coordinating U.S. military participation.

Following a list of urgent priorities supplied by the Georgian government, U.S. military personnel loaded the first pallets with cots, sleeping bags and blankets, as well as medical supplies including bandages and more than 1,200 pounds of antibiotics, Romano said.

EUCOM has scheduled C-130s with more supplies to arrive at Tbilisi at a rate of two flights per day over the weekend and throughout the week, Romano said.

"We expect to continue this sustained flow (of relief supplies) in the weeks to come," Romano said.


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