By Prudence Arobani
New York – The U.S. Department of Defence is pre-positioning troops, search and rescue units, aircraft, vehicles, equipment and supplies to staging areas near the worst of the flooding in southeastern Texas in anticipation of a possible request for assistance.
Pentagon spokesman, Col. Robert Manning gave the response efforts to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, and summarized activities of the Texas National Guard and the National Guard Bureau.
“Continuing rainfall from the hurricane is expected to cause devastating and life-threatening flooding throughout this week,” Manning said, adding, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims.”
On Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a memorandum of agreement approving a dual-status command, Manning said, which authorized one commander to direct active-duty and National Guard forces.
Abbott on Monday activated his state’s entire National Guard force in response to Hurricane Harvey, bringing the total number of deployed Texas Guard members to roughly 12,000.
The Texas National Guard currently has 16 aircraft and personnel conducting day and night wide-area search and rescue missions along the Texas coast from Corpus Christi to Houston.
“That effort includes 10 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, four UH-72 Lakota multi-mission helicopters, and two CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters,” Manning said.
Manning explained that the New York Air National Guard had provided one C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft, three HH-60 Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopters and two C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft.
“And six rotary-wing aircraft from the Utah, Nebraska and North Carolina Army National Guard are en route to the area.
“Seven fixed-wing aircraft from the U.S. Coast Guard and Air National Guard are in support, he added, and the Texas National Guard is using about 200 Humvees, 218 high-water vehicles, 15 wreckers and 19 fuelers.”
Manning said the U.S. Northern Command is poised to provide the Department’s support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal lead. State and local response agencies are in the lead for their own response efforts.
“Department of Defense has provided Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Seguin Auxiliary Airfield as a forward staging area to support distribution of supplies and equipment to the affected areas.
“And Department of Defense has prepositioned a search and rescue unit that includes two search and rescue planners, nine search and rescue rotary-wing aircraft, two fixed-wing aircraft, pararescue teams and associated command-and-control … elements,” Mann added.
The search and rescue assets were deploying to Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas, he said, and the Defense Logistics Agency has pre-positioned logistics management and resource support, including 11 generators, 50,000 gallons of gasoline and 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
“Safety is the number one priority. We urge residents in the affected areas to continue to follow the instructions of state, local and tribal officials and to stay away from evacuated areas until they are told the areas are safe,” Manning said.