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USTRANSCOM supporting relief efforts for Hurricane Rita

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (USTCNS) --– US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) is providing military relief support to areas affected by Hurricane Rita.

For the past week planners in the command’s Deployment and Distribution Operation Center here have continued to coordinate with US Northern Command’s Joint Operations Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. USNORTHCOM has the lead within US Department of Defense (DoD) and has been monitoring Hurricane Rita’s progress to facilitate any Requests for Assistance that may come from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials.

USTRANSCOM has already moved thousands of evacuees, hundreds of which were patients, out of the projected hurricane impact area; pre-positioned forward deployment officers and air planners to support logistics as well as basic supplies such as water, food and medical personnel; and established joint military operations teams that will work together to quickly respond post hurricane.

DOD assets are employed in support of a Primary Federal Agency, in this case FEMA only when DoD assistance is explicitly requested and subsequently approved by the Secretary of Defense. The impact of providing such assistance will not adversely affect other military operations.

On the heels of Rita hitting land, USTRANSCOM is prepared to establish aerial port and sea ports as necessary to assist in the aftermath of the hurricane’s relief efforts. This rapidly deployable port opening capability is a relatively new concept that was recently demonstrated in Exercise Bright Star in Egypt.

“We are going from concept to need now,” said Col. Martin Bannon, from USTRANSCOM’s directorate responsible for developing the Joint Task Force Port Opening initiative. “We’re planning to use Air Mobility Command components with Army capabilities to quickly open airfields and expedite the distribution process of relief aid if necessary.”

USTRANSCOM has a history of delivering humanitarian assistance in the wake of natural disasters. The command responded and continues to respond with relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina; after hurricanes that ravaged Florida last year, and delivered relief supplies following the tsunami that devastated Asia about nine months ago.

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