Federal Troops Won't Enforce Mandatory Evacuations
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 7, 2005 Federal troops continue to deploy to the area ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, but active-duty forces will not participate in the mandatory evacuation order issued by local authorities in New Orleans, a senior military officer involved in the operations said today.
Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Inge, deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command, explained that active-duty troops would not be used in "a law enforcement issue." Guardsmen working under the order of a governor would, however, be able to enforce the mandatory evacuation order.
Emergency response officials are still in rescue mode in some areas while entering the remediation process in others, said Inge, briefing Pentagon reporters via a video connection from NORTHCOM's headquarters in Colorado.
Military aircraft will provide 71 hours of reconnaissance flights to survey damage "to determine what the priority for mitigation will be," Inge said. "We will continue to search and rescue. We will support the evacuation of survivors. We will transport and distribute relief supplies: ice, food, water and, of course, medical supplies. We are supporting firefighting efforts and have moved some capabilities into the (area)."
More than 63,000 military personnel in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, Inge said. This includes more than 18,000 active-duty soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. The Marine Corps has finished deploying the 11th and 24th Marine Expeditionary Units into Mississippi. Two brigades of soldiers -- one from 82nd Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas -- will finish their deployment to Louisiana today.
More than 45,000 National Guardsmen are in the region. Inge said commanders on the ground are repositioning troops to make sure the right people are in the right places. They will launch a house-by-house search in flooded areas for people who need to be rescued.
Also, foreign military help is arriving. Canadian divers are helping with harbor reconstruction in the water off Pascagoula, Miss., Inge said. A Mexican vessel is scheduled to arrive today and join the USS Bataan in conducting search-and-rescue missions.
In the next few days, U.S. military personnel will continue to explore isolated areas and conduct rescues, provide for people awaiting evacuation, and expand medical facilities as needed. "We will deploy additional ships and aviation assets, should they become needed," Inge said.
The Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort will arrive in New Orleans Sept. 9.