HAST – The first two letter stand for humanitarian assistance. I am not sure what the others are for, but if you just use it as a noun, it means a Marine operation that provides local populations with thinks like food, water and basic medical care.
HAST was part of the exercise, but before the Marines could start doing good, they had to land their equipment. The hovercraft you see in the picture is called a LCAC. It skims across the surface of the water and then can also skim across the surface of the beach. It is much more reliable than those landing craft we remember from John Wayne movies. You know, the kind that are shaped like long boxes and open in the front.
The problem is that the landing craft have to go back and forth to the ships to bring in the materials and that just takes a lot of time and is very dependent on the state of the sea.
One of the keys to relief is clean water. The Marines has a combination filter/desalinization machine that can make fresh water from sea water or clean water from polluted water. We went down to the landing beach to see this thing in action. Unfortunately, sea conditions slowed delivery and it was not ready to do. Maybe tomorrow.
I am playing the DCM (Deputy Chief of Mission) during this exercise. While the exercise is for the Marines and I am just a prop, I am learning some useful things by playing the role. I would like to be more helpful to the Marines, but since this is supposed to be a learning experience for them and a test of their abilities, I have to been less forthcoming. I suppose that makes it more realistic. In real life I would indeed know more and try to be more helpful. On the other hand, in real life there would be a lot more uncertainty. In the exercise I know or have a very good idea of what the future will be. I could be “helpful” and reveal some things, but that would mess up the whole thing, ruin the game. So I have to let it happen, knowing that around the corner something will happen to ruin their well-laid plans. Of course is the real world most plans don’t work; I just don’t know in advance. It is much better that they learn the lessons here than when they are playing for keeps.