USS BATAAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Nine members of the Maritime Civil Affairs Team (MCAT) arrived on board the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) Jan. 14 and have been preparing to go into Haiti to make a difference.
"The Maritime Civil Affairs Team's overall mission is to coordinate between all participating units within the area of operation that are currently operating on the beach," said Electronics Technician 1st Class Joel Eyzaguirre, a member of the MCAT.
The MCAT embarked on board Bataan will be using information from the assessment teams to coordinate the most tactical placements for the teams already in Haiti along with those who will be arriving with Bataan's Amphibious Relief Mission as part of Operation Unified Response.
"We are a reach-back," said Chief Operations Specialist (SW/AW) Daniel Bada, also a member of the MCAT. "They are going to assess the situation then pass the information to us and we distribute that information amongst the element."
The element includes teams from the Navy along with the Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force and many foreign agencies. Many of these teams already have people in Haiti assessing the damage and preparing for assistance while still making a difference for the Haitians.
"We'll have a team on the ground, if not tonight, then early tomorrow, and they will send back information," said Eyzaguirre. "They are there to figure out where we would be most effective. We are a very small team, so we really have to think of where we can be placed to have the biggest impact."
Operation Unified Response already has a number of military organizations able to deliver food and water and provide medical and engineering buildings for the people of Haiti.
"There are a lot of moving parts in this effort," said Eyzaguirre. "Our job as a team on the ground is to talk to all these agencies and to go out and find the places where these resources need to go."
Eyzaguiree and Bada both say they are ready to arrive in Haiti and lend a hand to the Haitians and the relief efforts already in place.
"It's where we need to go," said Eyzaguirre. "It's what we got into this for, to do just this kind of thing. To be called upon and act in the circumstances."
Bataan, USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and USS Gunston Hall (LHD 44) deployed to provide military support capabilities to civil authorities and to help stabilize and improve the situation in the wake of this disaster.
For more news from USS Bataan (LHD 5), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd5/.