Military News

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Army Assets Ready to Respond to Hurricane Irma



WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2017 — More than 7,400 Army personnel, including active duty, reserve and National Guard soldiers, as well as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilian members are involved in or prepared to support state, local and territory agencies or other federal agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of Hurricane Irma relief operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the continental United States, including Florida, according to a statement released by Army public affairs officials yesterday.

This morning, Hurricane Irma’s strong winds and whipping rain are impacting the Florida Keys and the southern Florida mainland, according to news reports.

At this time, governors are best postured to determine the needs of their residents and to establish response priorities, and are currently using Army National Guard members to help meet those needs, according to the statement. The Army is also prepositioning equipment and personnel in the affected areas to ensure adequate resources are readily available if or when needed.

Here are a few highlights as of 5 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Sept. 9, 2017:

-- The current Total Army response for Hurricane Irma is more than 7,400 soldiers and Army Corps of Engineers civilians in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the continental United States, including Florida.

-- The Army has more than 140 aircraft, 650 trucks, 150 boats prepared; and additional resources as necessary -- particularly trucks -- on standby to support response efforts if called upon.

-- Army National Guard soldiers from Florida, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are currently on State Active Duty status and are either responding, or prepared to respond to each governor’s priorities. Additionally, National Guard units in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are conducting routine inactive duty training, which they will utilize to prepare for a Hurricane Irma response, if required.

-- In Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Sept. 8, which will allow Virginia Army National Guard soldiers to respond and support other states if or when called upon.

-- The Army Corps of Engineers is already working in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to assist with power restoration efforts and have teams on stand-by to assist in Florida if or when needed. The Corps is also monitoring conditions at the Herbert Hoover Dike (Lake Okeechobee) and will continue to provide expert status updates.
-- The Army also has active-duty officers assigned with FEMA Regions II, IV, and V Headquarters to assist with providing expert military advice on storm response efforts.

Colorado Air National Guard Sends Commo Unit for Irma Response



By Air Force Maj. Darin Overstreet, Colorado Air National Guard

CENTENNIAL, Colo., Sept. 10, 2017 — A special communications section of the Colorado Air National Guard is staging to Mississippi to assist civilian authorities in areas impacted by Hurricane Irma.

This morning, Irma’s strong winds and whipping rain are impacting the Florida Keys and the southern Florida mainland, according to news reports.

Six airmen of the 233rd Space Communications Squadron, 223rd Space Group, Greeley, Colorado, will deploy with specialized equipment to the Southeastern United States.

The group is part of the Colorado National Guard Communications Element Joint Incident Site Communications Capability.

Providing Communications Capability

"The JISCC is specifically tailored to support unique homeland defense and civil support mission requirements," said Air Force Maj. Michael Holton, commander of the 233rd Space Communications Squadron. "It provides non-secure voice, data, video, intra-team radio, and radio interoperability for first responders supporting the incident commander."

"When we have an emergency in Colorado, we know we can count on our neighboring states to assist, so when we have the opportunity to help others, it's our top priority," said the Colorado National Guard Director of Joint Staff, Air Force Col. Gregory White, who commands the military response to domestic operations in Colorado.

"Our military training is transferrable to the civilian sector, and we're proud to support the professionals at all levels of the response effort," White added.

"Across the nation, there are more than 50,000 National Guard members helping Americans by responding to wildfires in the Northwest, and hurricanes in the South and Southwest and those deployed overseas," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael A. Loh, the adjutant general of the Colorado National Guard.

"Colorado, alone, sent 60 airmen and soldiers to help our neighbors in Texas, and we have more than 300 airmen and soldiers deployed to eight countries, predominately in the Middle East," Loh added.
The JISCC is the capability that supports the National Guard Communications Elements as prescribed by the Joint CONUS Communications Support Environment. JISCC is transportable by C-130 aircraft, rail, or trailer. It is a case-based system organized into five modules that includes a SATCOM Reach-back Communications Module.

DoD Continues Caribbean, Florida Hurricane Response Operations



WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2017 — The Defense Department continues its response to "significant" levels of destruction throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands and other Caribbean locales, while posturing forces to support the response to Hurricane Irma in Florida, DoD spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said today in a statement.

DoD is evacuating U.S. citizens from St. Martin in response to a State Department request, Davis added.

Irma is currently a Category 3 hurricane that’s expected to reach the southern Florida coast early tomorrow morning, according to news reports.

Virgin Island, Puerto Rico Operations

Regarding operations in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, the commander of Task Force-89 with the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked and the amphibious assault ship USS Oak Hill arrived on station in the Virgin Islands. The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima and the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York, and the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln departed Norfolk, Virginia, Sept. 8 to support the response to Hurricane Irma. The vessels will adjust course to avoid Hurricane Jose.

Assets from U.S. Transportation Command and the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp evacuated patients from St. Thomas to St. Croix and Puerto Rico for hospital care.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is continuing to assist with disaster assessment in the Virgin Island-Puerto Rico area today, and will have power restoration teams in the area. The Army engineers are assisting with debris management, and working with the U.S. Coast Guard to re-open ports. The Corps of Engineers is posturing temporary housing teams for deployment if or when requested.

The Defense Logistics Agency is coordinating movement of life-sustaining commodities such as food and water to the Virgin Island-Puerto Rico region.

Florida

In Florida, search and rescue forces, strategic and vertical lift, planning, communication and medical capabilities are preparing to facilitate a timely post-Irma-landfall response.

DLA is positioning a second Distribution Expeditionary Package at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, sourcing 51 high-end generators to stage at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and transporting food to two bases in Alabama and one in North Carolina.

The Corps of Engineers will monitor Lake Okeechobee for storm-driven over wash and is posturing temporary housing and power generation teams.

U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Transportation Command are responding to requests for strategic lift to move U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responders into Florida and to support aeromedical evacuation of up to 560 patients per day.

Meanwhile, U.S. Southern Command is employing five C-130 aircraft to evacuate American citizens from St. Martin to Puerto Rico. Southcom assets evacuated 158 American citizens yesterday, and the command expects to evacuate approximately 700 more today. Evacuations will continue following the passage of Hurricane Jose.
The U.S. Agency for International Development reports no humanitarian requirement for Haiti and the Dominican Republic. USAID is anticipating requests for humanitarian assistance from the Bahamas.