Hurricane Dean response: USNORTHCOM ready to 'help save lives, prevent property loss'

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | August 20, 2007

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – U.S. Northern Command continues to monitor the progress of Hurricane Dean and is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Guard and the state of Texas on hurricane response preparations.

"While we remain fully engaged in defense of the homeland, our collective Department of Defense capabilities and resources will be utilized for significant events such as hurricanes and other natural disaster contingency operations," said USNORTHCOM commander, Gen. Gene Renuart. "We can help save lives, mitigate suffering and prevent property loss."

USNORTHCOM continues to respond to requests for Department of Defense support in preparation for Hurricane Dean's possible landfall in the United States.

USNORTHCOM has deployed the following personnel to support the federal response:

• The Region VI Defense Coordinating Officer and a six-person Defense Coordinating Element deployed to Corpus Christi, Texas, at FEMA's request prior to landfall of Tropical Storm Erin. The DCO and DCE have moved to Austin, Texas, where they are co-located with FEMA and other responding agency assets.

• The Region X DCO and DCE deployed to Baton Rouge, La., at FEMA's request to assist the Region VI DCO.

• A Joint Regional Medical Planner deployed to Austin to support the Region VI DCO.

• A 17-person team from Standing Joint Forces Headquarters - North deployed from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., to Texas. Ten personnel will support the Region VI DCO in Austin; seven personnel will support Army North at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

• An eight-person Joint Patient Movement Team from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., deployed to Austin to help coordinate aeromedical evacuation efforts.

• A Joint Interagency Air-Ground Coordination Team from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., deployed to Austin at FEMA's request to assist FEMA and the Texas Emergency Operations Center and to help with aeromedical evacuation and search and rescue efforts.

• The Region II DCO and DCE deployed to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Aug. 15, where they supported a FEMA Emergency Response Team - Advance. Those personnel are redeploying to their home station in New York.

Should active duty forces be requested to respond for hurricane operations, the regional DCOs will provide their command and control and will also facilitate requests for any additional DOD support through USNORTHCOM.

"Local and state officials, in concert with the National Guard, are the first line responders," Renuart said. "But USNORTHCOM is prepared to respond in support of the needs of the state, and we are anticipating the kinds of capabilities they might require."

USNORTHCOM officials are coordinating with FEMA, DHS and the National Guard to ensure full situational awareness and an appropriate response posture to Hurricane Dean.

"We have created stronger ties with our National Guard and civilian agency partners with mutual understanding, respect, and appreciation of each others' missions, capabilities, and practices," Renuart said.

USNORTHCOM supports civilian federal agencies as part of a comprehensive national response plan to manage consequences of natural or man-made disasters. USNORTHCOM remains vigilant to anticipate, deter, detect and defeat threats to the Homeland and is prepared to prevent any attempt to exploit this crisis.