Thousands die each year in a struggle between the US 'War on Drugs' and the drug cartels, who are financed and armed by American narcotics consumers, Pentagon officials testified last week.
Pentagon officials say they're moving as fast as they can, but logistical challenges mean it will be a week before a US Navy hospital ship arrives to help Haiti earthquake victims.
The US response to the Haiti earthquake will be important for America's – and President Obama's – image in the region.
The US military is putting other ships on standby. In addition to assessing Haiti earthquake damage, officials are also keeping a close eye on the country's security and stability.
An exchange of ambassadors is part of Obama's policy of engagement over confrontation.