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NEWS | April 10, 2013

Denton Program provides avenue for humanitarian assistance

By Staff Sgt. William O'Brien Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The Denton Program is a commodity transportation program authorized under Title 10 U.S.C. Section 402, which provides the authority for Department of Defense to use any extra space on U.S. military cargo aircraft to transport humanitarian assistance materials donated by non-governmental organizations, international organizations and private voluntary organizations for humanitarian relief.

The Denton Office was originally located and operated at Pope Field, N.C., until Oct. 1999, when it relocated to Charleston Air Force Base's 437th Aerial Port Squadron because of the correlation of their missions.

"Seventy-five to 80 percent of everything that's shipped under the Denton Program goes to the (U.S. Southern Command) area of responsibility and Joint Base Charleston is the hub for all SOUTHCOM missions," explained Ken Hundemer, Denton Operations director of operations.

The Denton office is a two-man shop responsible for taking requests to send goods, which have been approved by and working the logistics to get the goods to their desired location on a space available basis.

"Our portion of the whole thing is the transportation aspect," said Hundemer. "We get approval via email. Then we pull up their application and print it and save it. It gives us all the donation information as well as the validation to allow us to bring the cargo into the Defense Transportation System.

"Our office will put together the paperwork to have the shipment put into the DOD transportation system. We put that together then we email the donating organization to let them know they've been approved. We work with that organization to help them to get their cargo into a military facility so we can prepare the cargo for airlift."

In 2012, the Denton Office was able to send more than 2.5 million pounds of cargo to nearly 20 countries from 43 different agencies.

"The Denton Program was enacted in 1985 by former U.S. Senator, (Ret.) Rear Admr. Jeremiah Denton, an advisor on Latin American affairs for President Ronald Reagan. A communist insurgency was taking place in South America. As the United States began shipping supplies to the area, Denton noticed how poverty stricken these countries weres. He made a proposal to Congress to allow non-government agencies to use available space on military airlifts to ship cargo to these countries. After Sept. 11, 2001, this included Iraq and Afghanistan as well," said Hundemer.

Historically, cargo moved under the Denton Program has been medical/dental supplies, education supplies, furniture, vehicles, agricultural supplies, machinery and clothing to support ongoing relief and development projects. It is not a program that is designed to respond to emergencies or disaster situations.

"Sometimes we get calls from civilians who want to send things to the troops over in Afghanistan or Iraq, but we can't do that because the consignee has to be non-governmental with distribution ultimately going to people in that country," said Hundemer.

Donating organizations range from large, non-profit organizations, to small church groups and private individuals. The cargo is moved and distributed by non-profit organizations in the destination country.

Donating agencies must apply and get approval from Defense Security Cooperation Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. State Department, and U.S. Transportation Command for transportation thru the Denton Program. The application and approval process is completed through a single-source website: