Military News

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Canada Helps Gustav Effort Through Civil Assistance Plan

By Canadian Air Force Maj. Brian Martin
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 2, 2008 - A
civil assistance plan signed six months ago between U.S. Northern Command and Canada Command was used for the first time over the weekend to expedite and coordinate Canadian military support to the U.S. Gulf Coast region in response to Hurricane Gustav. "This was a great first use of the civil assistance plan," said U.S. Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart, NorthCom commander. "Everything went exactly as it was designed to."

After receiving approval from both the governments of Canada and the United States, the Canadian Forces quickly deployed a CC-177 Globemaster III aircraft from 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, to Lakefront, La. The aircrew and medical team aboard the aircraft flew seven littered and 13 ambulatory patients from New Orleans to Little Rock, Ark., Aug. 31.

"I am proud of our men and women in uniform for answering this call and know that we have the mechanisms in place to respond to these types of requests quickly and effectively," said Vice Adm. Dean McFadden, commander of Canada Command and former commander of the Canadian task group that deployed to the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005 to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Signed on Feb. 14, the
civil assistance plan formalized the longstanding tradition of military-to-military cooperation that has long existed between both countries, officials said.

(Canadian
Air Force Maj. Brian Martin serves in the U.S. Northern Command/North American Aerospace Defense Command Public Affairs Office.)

Hurricane Hunters Track Gustav on Katrina Anniversary

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. James B. Pritchett
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 2, 2008 - Hurricane Hunters from the
Air Force Reserve's 403rd Wing here spent the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina flying into yet another tempest, Hurricane Gustav, which made landfall yesterday just west of Grand Island, La. Three years ago, the Hurricane Hunters evacuated aircraft and personnel from this Gulf-Coast base to forward operating locations, where they continued flying into Katrina to provide the National Hurricane Center with critical data used by forecasters to make warnings to areas in the path of the storm.

Crews watched from 10,000 feet as the pounding surf and pulverizing winds destroyed the
Mississippi Gulf Coast, including their homes, businesses and those of their friends and family. In the days following Katrina, the citizen-airmen of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron continued flying missions, never missing a single tasking.

Officials deployed the 403rd Wing's fleet of WC-130J and C-130J aircraft to forward operating locations last month when Tropical Storm Fay threatened heavy winds across the Gulf Coast. Aircraft remained in place as follow-on taskings called for them to fly missions into Hurricane Gustav and another recently developed system, Tropical Storm Hanna.

Any time a tropical system threatens the U.S. coastline or those of U.S. interests in the Atlantic, Pacific and Caribbean basin, the Hurricane Hunters fly around-the-clock missions.

Tasked by the National Hurricane Center, the Hurricane Hunters flew several missions into Gustav, pinpointing the location of the center of the storm and providing real-time data to forecasters via satellite communication.

Information relayed to the National Hurricane Center helps forecasters to narrow warning areas by more than 30 percent. With increased accuracy in the forecast, the likelihood that people in those areas will heed watches and warnings also improves.

This year, all 10 state-of-the-art WC-130J aircraft are equipped with the stepped-frequency microwave radiometer, which allows airmen on board to measure surface winds directly below the aircraft constantly. The SFMR, affectionately known as the "Smurf," also can determine rainfall rates within a storm system. This, in addition to wind speed measurements at flight level, provides structural detail of the storm.

Already this season, the Smurf has given forecasters significantly more data to feed into their models and provided more accurate surface-level wind data not always available in the past.

Having the Smurf on board is the most important advancement for this season, according to
Air Force Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, chief aerial reconnaissance weather officer for the Hurricane Hunters. With the full capability to provide surface wind speed data, the unit gives National Hurricane Center forecasters the most accurate surface wind speed information prior to landfall.

"This translates into more accurate warnings for the public," he said.

(
Air Force Tech. Sgt. James B. Pritchett serves in the 403rd Wing Public Affairs Office.)

Conversation in Diner Solidifies Texas Gustav Support

By Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gonda Moncada
Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 2, 2008 - Rescue efforts in a large state like Texas and a large neighboring state to the east take many levels of support and cooperative efforts, and sometimes a simple conversation struck up in a diner.
Army Lt. Gen. Charles G. Rodriguez, adjutant general for Texas Military Forces, visited a 136th Airlift Wing crew and medical personnel here as they were beginning the careful task of medically evacuating patients from Beaumont to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.

He met with Port Arthur
police officer Tim Dinger at a diner on Aug. 29, and compared the responsibilities of the police with those assigned to the Texas Military Forces and made a connection that may prove valuable in the future.

"We are so much more aware of what needs to be done," Dinger said. "Now, we have backup generators and contracts to keep important facilities like this running."

Back at the airport, the medical crew was busy getting people comfortable on the aircraft. "This is something we did three years ago with two hours' notice," the airport manager said. "This time it was so much different. I am no less tired, but it is really worth it," he said with a weary smile.

As the transport aircraft rumbled down the tarmac and lifted off to the west, yet another bus arrived with more patients. In the meantime, fleets of buses were lined up, carrying up to 500 area residents to Tyler, a four-hour trip to the north.

"I really care about this,"
Army Sgt. Jessie Conley, assigned to Company A, 536th Forward Support Battalion, said. "If I did not, I would not be here."

By yesterday, seven missions had been flown from Beaumont to San Antonio and three from New Orleans to Austin, Texas, with a total of nearly 300 patients.

(
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gonda Moncada serves in the Texas National Guard as state public affairs deputy. Army Col. William D. Meehan, state public affairs officer, contributed to this story.)

Mullen Praises Military Response to Hurricane Gustav

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 2, 2008 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today praised the U.S.
military, in particular the National Guard, for its role in the government's response to Hurricane Gustav, which lashed the Louisiana coast yesterday. The National Guard has more than 14,000 citizen-soldiers and -airmen deployed to the Gulf Coast, according to the latest Defense Department statistics, with troops manning security positions and evacuation vehicles.

"They've been called out in several states; they were called out early,"
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said of the Guardsmen in a Pentagon Channel podcast interview. "We made them available earlier, we supported them from the federal standpoint very early, and I know that that made a difference."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates authorized the call-up Aug. 31 for a period ending Sept. 15.

Mullen expressed gratitude for the Guard's effort so far, but stressed that assessments are ongoing to determine the effects of Gustav, which caused some 2 million people to evacuate their homes. He added that the
military is now watching two other storms that ponentially could strike the U.S. coast.

"We're very much in preparation for the next two hurricanes, and I'm confident we'll do all we can to prepare for those disasters," he said.

The armed forces' response to Gustav assisted the overall government effort, Mullen said.

"We were able to plan for and prepare for this in a way that allowed us to, as a
military, greatly assist the rest of government organizations, whether it was national, state or local governments," he said.

Mullen said the government learned lessons from Hurricane Katrina, which battered homes, flooded cities and led to widespread looting and death in 2005.

"We put those lessons into play, and done it in a way that ... [generated] a very positive outcome," he said, referring to the response to Gustav. "So I'm proud of our participation. The
military has really made a difference here."