Press Secretary Details Military Aid to Colorado Flood Effort
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 16, 2013 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been monitoring the events in northern Colorado and commends the efforts of the active duty and National Guard personnel who have been tasked with supporting FEMA and Colorado's emergency management officials as the state copes with heavy flooding, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo., evacuate fifth-grade students from Firewood Elementary School and the Denver public school system due to flooding in the state, Sept. 14, 2013. The soldiers, assigned to the division’s 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, are assisting state and local emergency response efforts under the immediate response authority. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Wallace Bonner
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In a statement released last night, Little noted that Hagel supported Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's request Sept. 13 to establish a dual-status commander in the state.
Since then, he added, Air Force Brig. Gen. Peter J. Byrne, joint staff director for the Colorado National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters, and his assigned forces of nearly 560 Colorado and Wyoming National Guardsmen have evacuated more than 2,100 residents.
National Guard officers designated as dual-status commanders have the authority to command both federal and National Guard forces during a domestic response. In the absence of the designation, federal troops operating under “Title 10” authority report to one commander, and National Guard members serving under “Title 32” state active duty authority report to another.
"Active duty forces, through the coordination and direction of U.S. Northern Command, are complementing these National Guard assets in the overall response to the flood relief efforts,” Little said. “Seven helicopters from the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson have been conducting search-and-rescue operations under immediate response authority.”
Despite dealing with some tough weather, the press secretary said, 4th Infantry Division soldiers have rescued more than 700 residents, including 85 elementary school students at a camp near Jamestown. Buckley Air Force Base has been designated as a Federal Emergency Management Agency staging area.
"This cooperative effort among active and reserve forces to protect lives in Colorado's flood-ravaged areas is a testament to the department's ability to provide critical and timely support to FEMA and first responders during a domestic crisis,” Little said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those impacted by the events in Colorado and we hope for the continued safety for all emergency response personnel involved."