Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Commander: Military Role in Relief Swells

Commander Says Troops Joining Katrina Relief Effort Will Likely Be Needed for Months, Not Weeks
More active-duty troops are joining the Hurricane Katrina relief effort than originally planned, and a senior commander said Monday they likely will be needed for months, not weeks.
Although the Pentagon said Saturday that 2,500 soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division were being dispatched to the New Orleans area, a spokeswoman for the division said Monday that 4,700 would be there by Tuesday.
Also going are combat and support forces from the 1st Cavalry Division and 13th Corps Support Command at Fort Hood, Texas, plus about 2,000 Marines. The Pentagon originally said the 1st Cavalry was sending 2,700 soldiers, but division spokesman Capt. George Lewis said Monday that 1,700 were going, plus 100 support troops.Thus the total for active-duty ground forces would be about 8,500, up from the 7,200 announced on Saturday.
Twenty-one Navy ships also are participating, including the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman off the coast of Mississippi.
The Air Force said Monday that its aircraft have flown more than 1,000 missions, including helicopter crews that have rescued more than 3,600 people and evacuation flights that have moved 2,600 medical patients.
Navy Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of U.S. Northern Command which is responsible for military support to civilian authorities during domestic emergencies, told reporters at the Pentagon that in addition to the active-duty troops, there are about 38,000 National Guard troops in Louisiana and Mississippi. As commanders arrive on the scene of the disaster, some are requesting additional support from their home bases, he said.
"I'm not surprised the numbers are swelling just a little bit," Keating said in a telephone interview from his headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. He said he had toured the devastation with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Sunday.


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