Disaster may be termed as an event that impacts with such severity that the affected community has to respond by taking exceptional measures. Disasters may take many forms, and occur as a result of events, both nature and those induced by man. However, BAF as an organized force, have to be ready in all aspect to overcome the impact of disaster.
Bangladesh is a developing country faced with several natural disasters every year. Yet the people of Bangladesh have learnt to live with struggle and hope. They are strong, resilient and proud, forever fighting the elements of natural disaster. The nation has always been looking forward to the Armed Forces to stand beside in any disaster. Bangladesh Armed Forces for its command structure, trained manpower, capabilities is always in a better footing to make the fastest response in the hour of need.
The Role of Bangladesh Air Force in a Disaster
- Pre Disaster Stage
- Preserve all up-dated charts of coastal areas, offshore coastal islands and disaster prone areas. Maintain up-to-date list of airfields and helipads.
- Promulgate standing order for the safety of aircraft, equipment, establishments and response to assist civil administration at their need.
- Promulgate warning signal to all concerned.
- Keep all transport aircraft and helicopters in readiness for emergency flights.
- During Disaster or Emergency Stage
- Keep a constant watch over cyclone/flood situation.
- Furnish any additional meteorological information gathered through own resources to supplement the information of Weather Department and provide same to the concerned authorities.
- Keep all transport aircraft and helicopters ready for flight, if weather permits to undertake the rescue operation and to assess the damages due to cyclonic storm.
- In case of flood, assist and help civil administration in conducting air drops of food and relief goods for affected people.
- Post Disaster Stage.
- Carryout aerial survey of the cyclone/flood affected areas, assess nature and amount of damages and report findings to the Armed Forces Division.
- Evacuate casualties to nearest hospitals.
- Provide transport air craft/helicopter sorties for survey/visit of high Government official, Journalist, Ambassador and other concerned personnel to the affected areas.
- Carry essential relief supplies especially food and drinking water to the affected areas and air-drop the same, if required.
- Assist civil administration, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and other important agencies in carrying essential relief goods, medical stores and medical team to the inaccessible areas by helicopters.
- Supplement the existing civil wireless network by the Bangladesh Air Force wireless and Radio Telephone links for transmission of important operational messages.
- Perform any other task assigned by the government.
BAF Experience in Disaster
- Cyclone-1991. We recall with gratitude, the undertaking of OPERATIONS SEA ANGELS by US Marines, which came in assistance to our Armed Forces after 1991 severe cyclone at a very short notice. The US assistance in post disaster rescue and relief operations along with Japan and Pakistan greatly helped controlling the situations.
- Cyclone-1997. After the severe cyclone on 19 May 1997, Bangladesh received spontaneous assistance in terms of relief materials from the friendly countries of India, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
- India : 1 transport aircraft load.
1 ship load,
1 road convoy load.
- Kuwait : 1 transport aircraft load.
- Oman : 1 transport aircraft load.
- Saudi Arabia : 2 transport aircraft load.
The entire mechanism of disaster management of Bangladesh has been acclaimed worldwide. American media in US (during KATRINA SPECIALLY) and the Indian Prime Minister in the SAARC summit also spoke high about our Disaster management infrastructure and experience of preparedness, warning, response, recovery, development and mitigation. Bangladesh appreciates with high regard any opportunity to extend cooperation in this field. Bangladesh received such opportunities in:
- Relief mission in February 2001 by 2X AN-32 aircraft at Bhuj, India for the victims of earthquake.
- Relief missions in October 2005 by C-130 aircraft at Islamabad, Pakistan for the victims of earth quake.
- Bangladesh Air Force participated in the recovery of devastating effect and catastrophe caused by Tsunami in the South and South-East Asian region. Support missions were provided by C-130 aircraft and Bell-212 helicopter to Sri Lanka and Maldives in December/January 2005. This was the first time that BAF transported Bell-212 by C-130 aircraft.
BAF by the side of SIDR (Cyclone) affected people.
Cyclone SIDR, Category IV, hit Bangladesh on the evening of 15 November 2007. Approximately 30 of Bangladesh’s 64 districts were affected by the storm mainly within the administrative divisions of Barisal and Khulna. The storm caused extensive damage to the southern districts as it moved north across central Bangladesh. Bangladesh Air Force started its relief activities in remote cyclone affected areas using its helicopters and aircraft just after the cyclone. Around 2500 BAF personnel, directly or indirectly participated in the post SIDR relief activities. Chief of Air Staff, BAF personally observed the affected situation and participated in the relief distribution.
During the crisis, Cyclone Monitoring Cells were established in Air Headquarters and different BAF Bases to coordinate relief operation with Armed Forces Division. For efficient relief operation and evacuation, BAF prepared four helipads and planned proper management of Barisal airfield. Along with this, BAF also established an Air Operation Centre at Barisal airfield.
All BAF members donated their one day’s salary and one day’s ration equivalent and also collected clothes for relief. The BAF aircraft also carried the VIP and VVIP passengers to and from the affected area. BAF deployed three transport aircraft and eighteen helicopters for relief operation. These aircraft and helicopters flew total 229 sorties for total 440 hours to carry 6,80,020 kg relief materials. Bangladesh Air Force has been carrying out relief, rescue and rehabilitation activities alongside the civil administration in all national crises. BAF also gave required logistic support to US helicopters, which further helped to increase the relief operation.
Due to cyclone hit, while land and water transportation services are difficult, BAF volunteered with her helicopters to help the victims. The Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air force personnel also participated in parallel with the civil administration in the rescue and relief operations of the cyclone victims.