The Netherlands has deployed its Dutch Urban Search and Rescue Team to Beirut, following the devastating explosions which rocked the Lebanese capital on 4 August.
The team arrived on 5 August, facilitated by the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) – one of two strategic airlift programmes overseen by NATO. The team is composed of firefighters and ambulance personnel, police sniffer dogs and handlers, several Ministry of Defence personnel and a trauma doctor – a total of 63 emergency workers, and 8 search and rescue dogs. One of the SAC’s three Boeing Globemaster C-17 aircraft transported 14 tons of heavy search and rescue equipment for the Dutch team’s mission.
As part of the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), 10 Allies – Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and the United States – and partners Finland and Sweden have pooled resources to buy and share a fleet of three Globemaster heavy transport aircraft, capable of carrying 77,000 kilograms of cargo over 4,450 kilometres. The programme is managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. Since their maiden flights in 2009, the SAC planes have flown more than 2,500 missions, supporting NATO operations in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Libya, as well as humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti and Pakistan. Nine Allies also charter several Antonov transport aircraft under the Alliance’s Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS) program.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two strategic airlift programmes have delivered over 1,000 tonnes of medical supplies to Allies in need.
Robust strategic airlift capabilities are vital to ensure that NATO countries are able to deploy their forces and equipment rapidly, wherever required.