Friday, August 26th at 4 p.m., the National Hurricane Center warned that Katrina was expected to reach the dangerous Category 4 intensity before making landfall in Mississippi or Louisiana. Monday morning, August 29th, she ruthlessly disgorged her fury.
Though there are umpteen number of reports flying around the internet and on the news about how Katrina’s wrath was handled (indeed, there is much to be learned from the lack of leadership at the onset of this crisis), it’s important to recognize the pre-emptive measures the US Military and National Guard took, mobilizing a response to the impending disaster. Following is a recap of the initial measures taken as reported by Army Public Affairs:
First U.S. Army activated its 24-hour Crisis Action Team Aug. 28th and sent defense coordinating elements to three states. These elements help U.S. Northern Command coordinate DoD support to civil authorities as requested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Right now [ed. note: Aug. 28], First Army is leaning forward and planning for any number of needs the states may have once this hurricane hits,” said Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré, commanding general, First U.S. Army. “One of the things we learned last year with the series of hurricanes that passed through Florida, was the need for satellite communications,” said Col. James Hickey, chief of staff, First U.S. Army. “This storm will likely take out some key communications nodes and cell phones and land lines may not work for some time.”
Based on that assessment, First Army is identifying satellite phones and other military communications assets that do not rely on local infrastructure. Food, water and ice are also key resources and the military is planning to help with quick distribution of those supplies in the aftermath of the storm.
Other possible requirements include helicopter support for evacuation, emergency supplies and damage assessments; medical personnel, supplies and equipment to include sanitation expertise; transportation units with the capability to ford high water; watercraft assets for coastal areas; and construction, bridging and utility engineer units.
Tuesday, August, 30th, the U.S. military starts to move ships and helicopters to the region at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
A swift and resplendent response, this is just the beginning of a vigilant mission that will be tackled in some way, shape or form, by every branch of the military for the ensuing weeks, months, perhaps years to come.
Thank you for reading!
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