National Guard Has Manpower, Assets Needed for Kansas Relief Effort
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 8, 2007 National Guard troops responding to a tornado that devastated Greensburg, Kan., have the manpower and resources they need and can tap into additional support if they need it, defense officials said today.
“If the National Guard has it, Kansas will receive it,” said Army Lt. Gen. H Stephen Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau.
Some 566 members of the Kansas National Guard -- 366 Army Guard, 200 Air Guard -- are on duty, conducting search-and-rescue missions, clearing debris, helping generate power, supporting law enforcement officials, and providing other support, National Guard Bureau officials reported.
The Kansas National Guard has 88 percent of its forces available and is working quickly and aggressively to save lives and reduce suffering, Guard Bureau officials reported. More than 6,800 additional Kansas Guard troops can be tapped, if needed, as well as more than 80,000 Guardsmen from surrounding states, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters today.
Kansas Guardsmen responding to the disaster have 60 percent of their Army Guard dual-use equipment and more than 85 percent of their Air Guard equipment on hand, officials said.
Whitman reported a full range of Guard equipment on hand to support the mission. The Kansas Guard has 352 Humvees, 94 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks, 24 medium and light tactical vehicles, 152 2.5-ton cargo trucks, 76 series 5-ton trucks, 13 M916 tractors, 870 trailers, 52 Heavy Equipment Transport Systems, and 30 Palletized Load System Trucks.
In terms of engineering assets, the Kansas Guard has all -- and in some cases more than, -- its authorized vehicles. This includes five road graders, 15 bulldozers, eight scoop loaders and 72 dump trucks, he said.
Whitman said he was unable to report which of these assets is undergoing maintenance and might not be immediately available to provide tornado relief.
Meanwhile, the National Guard Bureau is coordinating requests for additional support through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. This national partnership agreement paves the way for states to share resources during governor- or federally declared emergencies.
“The states are poised to help one another when their own resources are overwhelmed,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
Initial out-of-state assets to be committed to the mission include six UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for search-and-rescue operations; power generation assets to be fielded to Macksville, in Stafford County; and a deployable communications package with voice, data, video and radio interoperability.
“Saving lives and protecting property is what the American people expect the National Guard to do, and that’s exactly what we are seeing take place in the wake of the Kansas tornado disaster,” Krenke said.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius mobilized the troops after a tornado rated at F-5, the highest rating given by the National Weather Service, ripped through the state May 5.