DoD Provides Assistance Throughout Tragedy
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2001 DoD began helping civil authorities almost immediately after the first hijacked airliner hit the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City Sept. 11.
Perhaps the most visible form of DoD support will be the 879-foot-long Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, expected to arrive in New York City Friday to provide advanced medical support in the aftermath of the disaster. The Navy is also providing "base support operations" for the emergency workers in New York, Army Brig. Gen. Clyde A. Vaughn said.
Vaughn is deputy director of the Directorate of Military Support, the agency responsible for coordinating DoD support to civil authorities.
Air National Guard and Reserve planes were in the air "moving stuff within an hour," he said. They were working to deliver blood, tissue, search and rescue teams, and equipment to the rescuers in New York, he said.
He said 4,600 New York Army National Guard soldiers are providing security in lower Manhattan, and that DoD had sent military chaplains to provide for the spiritual needs of the rescuers and to "protect the dignity of the situation," Vaughn said.
Active and National Guard soldiers also are providing security in and around the Pentagon, and the Army Corps of Engineers is providing civil engineering support to the operations in New York City and the Pentagon.
The general said that decisions on military support to civilian authorities are made very quickly. Because crises are so sensitive, the turnaround on requests from civil authorities is complete within a matter of hours if that's what's required, he said.
It's a very short chain of command from DOMS, where the original civil request comes in, to the secretary of defense, who makes the final decision, Vaughn explained.