US retains small military presence, focus assistance on reconstruction and work relating to tourism industry

The United States military will retain a small unit to assist Sri Lanka’s long-term reconstruction and humanitarian work in the tsunami hit areas, a military official said Saturday. The United States military will retain a small unit to assist Sri Lanka’s long-term reconstruction and humanitarian work in the tsunami hit areas, a military official said Saturday. The move comes as the US scales down its operations in Sri Lanka, where it deployed 1,600 marines to help out in the tsunami relief work.

“Nearly two thirds of our troops have already left, and we hope to complete the withdrawal in about a week or two,” Brig. General Frank Panther told a news conference.

To ensure there are no gaps left behind, Panther says “a small transitional team will remain to help out with the US Embassy’s ongoing relief work.”

Jim Entwistle, Charge d’ Affaires, says the exact military role will be worked out ‘depending on the needs of the Sri Lankan government and the United States relief work.’

Besides troops, heavy equipment and military aircrafts, the US government stepped in with US$ 57.4 mn in post tsunami assistance.

The US military C-130 cargo planes, HH-60 helicopters