Dual Commanders Named for Hurricane Irene Response

Image of Hurricane Irene from Saturday. Photo courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Hurricane Irene is the first natural disaster that the Department of Defense is implementing its “dual commander concept.” The idea is to ensure that state and federal military forces work effectively together to avoid duplication of effort, and provide the life-saving capabilities that governors request according to a DoD news release.

Others may be appointed in the coming days, but the initial list of dual-status commanders appointed by the state governors and the Department of Defense is:

Brig. Gen. James Trogden III, North Carolina Army National Guard;

Brig. Gen. Carolyn Protzmann, New Hampshire Air National Guard;

Brig. Gen. Michael Swezey, New York Army National Guard; and

Col. Donald Lagor, Rhode Island Air National Guard.

The dual-status commanders – with the agreement of the DoD and governors – can direct both federal active-duty forces and state National Guard forces in response to domestic incidents.

The dual-status commander concept was formulated in 2009. In March 2011, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the bipartisan 10-member Council of Governors adopted the “Joint Action Plan for Unity of Effort,” strengthening support to governors when they request military assistance for disaster response.

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Panetta Puts Troops on Standby for Hurricane Irene

 

With about 101,000 National Guard members ready to assist eastern seaboard states in Hurricane Irene’s path, the National Guard Command Center in Arlington, Va., seen here Aug. 26, 2011, is monitoring the storm and National Guard support to civilian authorities around the clock. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has issued a prepare-to-deploy order for 6,500 active-duty service members from all of the services to support hurricane relief efforts if ordered, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Saturday.

On requests from states for the department to provide hurricane relief assistance, Little added, it has taken the secretary an average of five to seven minutes to approve them.

U.S. Northern Command is coordinating the Defense Department’s support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and to state and local hurricane response efforts along the East Coast.

Northcom is now supporting 16 FEMA-requested mission assignments, command officials said.

Over the past 24 hours, the command has designated Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia as a FEMA federal staging facility for support to hurricane disaster operations in Virginia.

You can read the full American Forces Press Service story by Cheryl Pellerin HERE.

Flag Lowered at Walter Reed Early Due to Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene pushed up the closing of Walter Reed Medical Center. The last remaining patients were transferred to Bethesda today. The Navy Facebook reports that more than 100 patients were moved without incident and the flag was lowered for good at the 102-year-old Army hospital earlier Saturday.

VA Emergency Response for Hurricane Irene information is available at VA Emergency website.

Veterans and their families may call 800-507-4571 for information and assistance about VA facilities.

For additional information regarding specific VA facilities, visit the local VA Medical Center website, or the Facilities Locator, and/or sign-up for email updates.

Additional information may be found on VA’s blog – VAntage Point.

Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed.  Visit ready.gov to learn about preparedness kits, family emergency plans, and more.

VA Employee Emergency Information

VA employees may call 1-866-233-0152 for assistance and information about VA facilities.

During an emergency, please use the Employee Emergency Information Form to post information about you and your status.

East Coast Military Bases Prepare for Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene via satellite.

Instead of being the focus of Hurricane Irene, Florida and Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base is playing a support role.

The airbase is home to NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters that routinely fly into the storms collecting data and observations.

MacDill’s 6th Air Mobility Wing also is preparing to welcome evacuated aircraft from coastal bases in the path of Hurricane Irene:

  • McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.
  • Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass.
  • Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Tampa’s skies, over the next day or two, will be filled with the site of C-17 Globemasters, C-5 Glaxys and Navy E-6 Mercury.

Cheryl Pellerin of the American Forces Press Service has more on the Department of Defense preparations.

The Defense Department is providing air and ground transportation experts and defense coordinating officers to work with state, local and other federal agencies, process mission assignments and coordinate DOD resources in support of FEMA, the lead federal agency.DOD facilities in and near Irene’s forecast path are taking actions to alert, prepare and secure for the storm, officials said.

The storm was in the northwest Bahamas this (Thursday) morning, National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read said during a telephone briefing, moving over the Abaco Islands with sustained winds of 115 mph.

“The next area of concern as [Irene] exits the Bahamas is what the impact will be in North Carolina,” he said. “We have a hurricane watch up now for most of the North Carolina coast [and a] tropical storm watch through most of the South Carolina coast,” Read added.

The storm is expected to maintain major hurricane status — winds of at least 115 mph — as it approaches the coast of North Carolina the morning of Aug. 27, he said.

You can read the full story HERE.

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