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Thursday, September 01, 2005

US Northern Command Katrina Update

Military work found here:
USNORTHCOM is providing and/or coordinating the following support:

• U.S. Transportation Command is providing medical airlift support to transport approximately 2,500 patients from New Orleans International Airport to National Disaster Medical System federal coordinating centers.

• Joint Forces Command is providing Department of Defense leased property at Old England Airfield as an intermediate staging base to support hurricane response in the state of Louisiana. This will serve as a staging point for National Guard personnel arriving from other states to support the Louisiana relief efforts.

• JTF-Civil Support (JTF-CS) is providing a joint planning augmentation cell to provide domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) consequence management planning capabilities to JTF-Katrina.

• Defense Coordinating Officers (DCOs) and Defense Coordinating Elements (DCEs) in Clanton, Ala., Baton Rouge, La., Jackson, Miss., to liaison between U.S. Northern Command, FEMA and the Department of Defense. (Tallahassee DCO redeployed)

• Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.; Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss.; Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; Alexandria, La.; and Ft. Polk, La.; as federal operational staging areas to expedite the movement of relief supplies and emergency personnel to affected areas.

• US Transportation Command flew eight swift water rescue teams from California to Lafayette, La. These California-based teams provide approximately 14 volunteer rescue personnel with vehicles and small rigid hulled boats who are highly trained and capable of rescuing stranded citizens from flooded areas.

• USS Bataan (LHD 5) and HSV Swift out of Naval Station Ingleside, Texas, sailed to the waters off Louisiana to provide support. Currently, the four MH-53s and two HH-60s off the Bataan are flying medevac and search and rescue missions in Louisiana. Bataan’s hospital may also be used for medical support.

• The Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) is sailing from Norfolk, Va. loaded with disaster response equipment. The (ESG) consists of USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Tortuga (LSD 46), and USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8). The ESG is expected to be operating off the Louisiana coast beginning Sept. 4.

• The hospital ship, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), is departing Baltimore to bring its invaluable medical assistance to the Gulf region. The Comfort is expected to reach the area Sept. 8.

• There are plans to bring USS Grapple (ARS 53) to assist with maritime and underwater survey and salvage operations.

• Three Army Helicopters from III Corps in Fort Hood, Texas, are in Baton Rouge and two more are in Mississippi to assist with search and rescue and damage assessment.

• Five Air Force helicopters from the 920th Rescue Wing (RQW) at Patrick AFB, Fla., and the 347th RQW at Moody AFB, Ga., are in Mississippi for search and rescue missions. These aircraft are capable of nighttime search and rescue and will also transport FEMA’s Rapid Needs Assessment teams to gather critical information for state and federal emergency managers.

• USNORTHCOM established Joint Task Force Katrina to be the military’s on-scene commander in support of FEMA. Lt. Gen. Russel Honor, commander of the First Army in Fort Gillem, Ga., is the JTF-Commander. JTF-Katrina will be based out of Camp Shelby, Miss.

• Standing Joint Forces Headquarters-North is providing an augmentation cell and its command and control vehicle to JTF-Katrina.

• USNORTHCOM’s Joint Operations Center is on 24-hour duty in Colorado Springs, Colo., to facilitate any additional requests for assistance that may come from FEMA representatives.
The NORTHCOM site also contains information on the effect of the Posse Comitatus Act on the legal ability of the US military to act in law enforcement (i.e. controlling looters):
As stated in the Posse Comitatus Act, USNORTHCOM and the military may not act in a law enforcement capacity within the United States. Typical defense support of civil authorities in disasters includes logistics, communications and medical care. The Coast Guard, in peacetime, and the National Guard under state control are not bound by Posse Comitatus.
Just in case you were wondering why the 82nd Airborne isn't patrolling the streets.

What is not stated is the complexity of moving personnel into the area. Military planners have to account for the food, shelter, fuel, transportation, water and medical needs of every single soldier or sailor moved into the region. The troops must be self-sufficient and not add to the burden already being shouldered by local agencies and charities. In fact, one of the benefits of the Navy ship borne forces is that the ships are essentially self-sustaining.

Note that the HSV Swift is mentioned for what is, to my knowledge, the first time. Also, first indications of LCACs bewing used in this photo and caption:
A Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) assigned to Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City, Florida approaches the stern gate of the Amphibious Assault Ship USS Bataan (LHD-5) August 31, 2005 as part of the disaster relief efforts at New Orleans, Louisiana. The two LCAC’s have been tasked to bring any type of cargo or personnel onboard or shore. Bataan’s involvement in the humanitarian assistance operations is an effort led by the Department of Defense in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency
Both the Swift and the LCACs offer high spped, shallow draft capabilities...

USNS Arctic (T-AOE-8) also enroute to as act fuel source for Navy ships and aircraft. Post of "replenishment at sea" here. See also Chaotic Synaptic Activity's "Life in the Fat Ship Navy" series here.

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