DOD moves troops, search-rescue units, aircraft, vehicles to Texas

Texas National Guard Soldiers arrive in Houston to aid citizens in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey. Photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West, U.S. Army.

Texas National Guard Soldiers arrive in Houston to aid citizens in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey. Photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West, U.S. Army.

By Cheryl Pellerin, DOD News:

(El Paso, Texas, AUg. 31, 2017)

WASHINGTON – The Defense Department is prepositioning 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, a Pentagon spokesman said here Tuesday.

Army Col. Robert Manning updated the media on DOD 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.”

Among the troops sent to help Tuesday were 92 Soldiers and 12 aircraft from 1st Armored Division, Combat Aviation Brigade, according to Capt. Tyson Friar, public affairs officer, CAB, 1st AD. Additional personnel and aircraft from the brigade were scheduled to depart in 24 to 48 hours.

Members of the CAB headquarters, 2nd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 501st Aviation Regiment, and the 127th Aviation Support Battalion joined the thousands of U.S. Army Soldiers deployed to assist local, state and federal first responders, Friar said.

“This is a great opportunity to support our nation,” said Lt. Col. Chris Chung, the commander of the 2nd Bn., 501st Aviation Regt.

State efforts

On Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a memorandum of agreement approving a dual-status command, Manning said, which authorizes one commander to direct active-duty and National Guard forces.

“As of now, all Guard personnel providing assistance are on Title 32, or state orders. Active-duty units are en route to the staging area in anticipation of a possible request. There has been no formal tasking (yet) of Title 10 DOD units,” the colonel added.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday 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 the New York Air National Guard has 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.

DOD support

Manning said U.S. Northern Command is poised to provide DOD support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal lead. State and local response agencies are in the lead for their own response efforts.

First Armored Division Public Affairs contributed to this report.