Mullen Praises Military Response to Hurricane Gustav
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2008 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today praised the U.S. military, in particular the National Guard, for its role in the government’s response to Hurricane Gustav, which lashed the Louisiana coast yesterday.
The National Guard has more than 14,000 citizen-soldiers and -airmen deployed to the Gulf Coast, according to the latest Defense Department statistics, with troops manning security positions and evacuation vehicles.
“They’ve been called out in several states; they were called out early,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said of the Guardsmen in a Pentagon Channel podcast interview. “We made them available earlier, we supported them from the federal standpoint very early, and I know that that made a difference.”
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates authorized the call-up Aug. 31 for a period ending Sept. 15.
Mullen expressed gratitude for the Guard’s effort so far, but stressed that assessments are ongoing to determine the effects of Gustav, which caused some 2 million people to evacuate their homes. He added that the military is now watching two other storms that ponentially could strike the U.S. coast.
“We’re very much in preparation for the next two hurricanes, and I’m confident we’ll do all we can to prepare for those disasters,” he said.
The armed forces’ response to Gustav assisted the overall government effort, Mullen said.
“We were able to plan for and prepare for this in a way that allowed us to, as a military, greatly assist the rest of government organizations, whether it was national, state or local governments,” he said.
Mullen said the government learned lessons from Hurricane Katrina, which battered homes, flooded cities and led to widespread looting and death in 2005.
“We put those lessons into play, and done it in a way that … [generated] a very positive outcome,” he said, referring to the response to Gustav. “So I’m proud of our participation. The military has really made a difference here.”