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U.S. Northern Command support to Hurricane Katrina disaster relief

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PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (USTCNS) --– As directed by the Secretary of Defense and in accordance with the National Response Plan, U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The impact of providing such assistance will not adversely affect military preparedness. Defense Department (DoD) support is provided on a reimbursable basis in accordance with the Robert T. Stafford Act. A variety of requests for assistance have been made to USNORTHCOM, and because of the unique capabilities we bring to emergency and rescue operations, the effort to fill these requests is underway in each of the affected states.

As stated in the Posse Coimitatus 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.

USNORTHCOM is providing and/or coordinating the following support:

-- Defense Coordinating Officers (DCOs) and Defense Coordinating Elements (DCEs) in Clanton, Ala., Baton Rouge, La., Jackson, Miss., Tallahassee, Fla., 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., Keesler AFB, Miss., 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 is flying 8 swift water rescue teams from Calf. to Lafayette, La. These California-based teams provide approximately 14 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 Amphibious Readiness Group is preparing to sail from Norfolk, Va. loaded with disaster response equipment. The ARG consists of USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Tortuga (LSD 46), and USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8). The ARG will be off the Louisiana coast in 5 days.

-- The hospital ship, USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), is departing Baltimore to bring its invaluable medical assistance to the Gulf region. The Comfort should reach the area in seven days.

-- 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 to 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 Honoré, 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.

-- JTF-Civil Support is providing a joint planning augmentation cell.

-- 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.

For more information on USNORTHCOM involvement in national disaster relief efforts in the affected areas, refer to the current “DoD Forces Deployed for Hurricane Katrina Support” located at www.northcom.mil or contact USNORTHCOM Public Affairs, at 719-554-9618.

Office of Public Affairs - transcom-pa@mail.mil
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