Denton Amendment allows Altus AFB to support humanitarian operations

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kenneth W. Norman
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
Organizations across the world are eager to donate resources to third world countries in need, but the logistics of delivering goods is complicated and expensive. Thanks to the capabilities of the 97th Air Mobility Wing and the Denton Cargo Program, two third-world countries garnered enough food and supplies to help thousands in need.

Altus Airmen ventured to Haiti and Nicaragua Feb. 19-20 to off-load a C-17 Globemaster III containing pallets of food, building and school supplies.

The Denton Amendment permits the Department of Defense to provide transportation of privately donated humanitarian cargo to foreign countries using military transportation on a space-available basis.

"These deliveries are extremely important to the people of Nicaragua," said Army Sergeant 1st Class Dori Pelley, United States Defense Attaché Office, Managua Operations NCO. "This one delivery on Feb. 20 included more than $100,000 worth of food and supplies, which will go directly to the Nicaraguan people. In the 20 months I have been here, I have seen clothing, food, fire trucks and thousands of dollars worth of emergency equipment come in on these flights."

Seven Air Force pallets were delivered to Nicaragua. The amount of food and school supplies delivered on seven AF pallets is equal to 40 normal-sized pallets. The supplies were delivered to World Missions Outreach, an organization in Nicaragua feeding 15,000 people per day.

"Without the Denton Program, donated goods from the U.S. would never make it here," said Mrs. Donna Wright, World Missions Outreach international mission director. "We do not have the money to pay for the shipping. We are extremely pleased."

The Denton Program was created by Alabama Senator and former Vietnam Prisoner of War, Jeremiah Denton, in an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. He understood the need for humanitarian assistance in developing third-world countries, and in 1985 his amendment was implemented.

"We're very fortunate that the Denton Amendment allows us to deliver humanitarian cargo when we conduct our required training into places like Haiti and Nicaragua," said Col. Wyn Elder, 97th Air Mobility Wing vice commander. "It's a win-win situation for the crew, the taxpayers and the people in need. If the need arises, we now have several aircrew trained and certified to deliver relief supplies into overseas areas, and we were able to do a good deed in the process. All of Team Altus came together to help get these jets and aircrew ready to fly these missions - it was a total team effort. I'm very proud of what the Mighty 97th accomplished on this trip."

Nearly 2 million pounds of cargo for humanitarian aid was shipped world-wide in 2010 because of the Denton Program.

"The average Nicaraguan has no more than a third grade education and earns about $2 per day, but they are warm, friendly people," Sergeant Pelley said. "It is a great feeling to help the people with deliveries like this."

The following outlines the parameters for using the Denton Program:

· All items sent through the Denton Program must be used to support on-going relief and development projects
· The humanitarian cargo must be consistent with U.S. foreign policy objectives
· The cargo must provide legitimate humanitarian assistance to the recipients
· The cargo must be in usable condition
· U.S. military personnel assigned in the destination country cannot act as a consignee for the cargo
· Shipment of hazardous cargo is prohibited, except vehicles
· A minimum of 2,000 pounds and a maximum of 100,000 pounds per donor per shipment are allowed through the Denton Program, except Afghanistan and Iraq
· Categories of cargo include: medical and dental equipment, educational materials, food and clothing and emergency vehicles