In his weekly radio address (transcript) Aug. 16, President Bush noted the use of US military flights to “help the Georgian people recover from the trauma they have suffered” and said “more will be arriving in the days ahead.” USAF C-17s made the first flights into Tbilisi because they could haul a lot quickly, according to Rear Adm. Steven Romano, US European Command director of logistics and security assistance, who briefed reporters Aug. 16 on the humanitarian mission, saying that C-130s would now continue “sustainment” flights. The C-17, said Romano, was the initial aircraft of choice “because of its capacity and its speed to facilitate the immediate delivery of critical supplies within … 96 hours of the crisis.” To sustain the operation, EUCOM expects to employ “on average, two C-130 aircraft per day,” he said. As of Aug. 16, two C-17s and two C-130s had delivered 86 short tons of supplies, such as antibiotics, sleeping cots and bags, blankets. The World Food Program, said the admiral, is handling delivery of food supplies, but DOD is on standby to assist. He also noted that the US military was readying a maritime delivery system and had plans to engage US Transportation Command for strategic airlift [read that: more C-17s and possibly C-5s] to meet an anticipated “growth” in the “scope of the operation.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.