The National Guard: At the Forefront of Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

All across the United States, Americans are seeing the same image – the power of the National Guard in response to national disasters.

As Hurricane Sandy swept across the east coast late last week, over 85,000 National Guard member were made available to assist civilian authorities in potentially affected states in support of relief efforts in the worst affected areas.

Ultimately over 12,000 National Guard have been activated by the governors of 12 states and the mayor of the District of Columbia in the aftermath of the storm’s onslaught. Their primary mission has been to assist local first responders and the Federal Emergency management Agency (FEMA), and has  shifted quickly to recovery efforts.

According to the American Forces Press Service, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had appointed a series of “dual status” commanders, a special authority that allows military leaders to work more cohesively with state officials and “integrate defense support operations and capabilities effectively when governors request them.”

The Defense Department also said dual status commanders were operating in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland and Rhode Island.

Army National Guard Director Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. said in a statement:

Through mutual assistance agreements, Army National Guard ground and aviation task forces, from neighboring FEMA region states, are ready to meet gaps in mission command, medical, communications, logistics, transportation, engineering, civil support, maintenance, security and aviation.

The Guard’s heroic service after this historic storm has garnered a lot of attention, in some cases highlighting the threat sequester would place on our nation’s ability to respond and assist FEMA and local authorities with rescues, responses, cargo transport and other support missions.

NGAUS’s own John Goheen spoke to Politico on this issue:

If we go through sequestration … there’s going to be a lot less flexibility for the federal government…There’s going to be less money for domestic responses. We know there’s going to be less money for training. The question is whether we’re going to have a situation where the Guard cannot respond and cannot save lives and property…There’s certainly some uncertainty there. Could sequestration impact the Guard’s ability to respond to the next Sandy? Absolutely.

As the looming sequester comes closer to reality, the National Guard waits to see what their fate will be, and what resources they will have to provide states and local governments in future homeland defense missions.With the elections just a few days away, Congress will soon move to try and solve many legislative questions.

Tell us your story - How has the National Guard helped you after Hurricane Sandy?

Add new comment