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DOD Assists in Tornado Recovery, Cleanup

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The Kentucky National Guard has called up more than 300 personnel to duty — including 81 in law enforcement roles, 80 in recovery support and 44 in debris clearance, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said at a press briefing today.


Scores of people were killed and many more were injured or unaccounted for after tornadoes tore through western Kentucky and adjacent areas of the Midwest and Southeast on Friday and Saturday.

Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responding to Federal Emergency Management Agency mission assignments, Kirby said. 

Under the regional activation mission assignment, the Corps is deploying in support of debris removal, supporting critical public facilities, infrastructure assessment, and engineering and public works, he said.

A National Guardsman ducks under a felled tree as others stand nearby.
Tornado Response
Army and Air National Guardsmen continue search and rescue missions in Mayfield, Ky., Dec. 12, 2021, in the aftermath of devastating tornadoes that swept through the region.
Photo By: Army Spc. Brett Hornback
VIRIN: 211212-A-JL556-120Y
Men operate computers.
Disaster Response
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers emergency management specialists undertake disaster response to the severe storms and tornadoes which impacted western Kentucky. The Louisville District has deployed a team of debris and infrastructure experts to the affected region to perform assessments in Mayfield, Ky., Dec. 13, 2021.
Photo By: Charles Delano, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
VIRIN: 211213-A-PA223-002M

Under the temporary power mission assignment, the Corps' 249th Engineer Battalion is mobilizing a temporary power planning and response team and bringing in additional experts to assist with generator staging, assessments and installation, he said.

Also, the Defense Department is making Fort Campbell, Kentucky, available as an incident support base, he said.

"We do not anticipate activations from other states with respect to this particular national disaster," Kirby said, but the department is prepared to respond if requested.

Guardsmen stand in a field of wreckage and debris.
Tornado Wreckage
Army guardsmen assigned to the 301st Chemical Battalion and air guardsmen assigned to the 123rd Airlift Wing search for survivors of the tornadoes in Mayfield, Ky., Dec. 12, 2021. More than 300 guardsmen were activated to assist.
Photo By: Army Spc. Brett Hornback
VIRIN: 211212-A-JL556-738

"Our thoughts and prayers, deepest condolences go to all those who were affected by those devastating tornadoes and who will have to deal with rebuilding, and, clearly, the department stands behind the interagency effort to do whatever we can do to support them," he said.

Kirby noted that today is the National Guard's 385th birthday and that the National Guard has had a full plate of activities over the past year or so — from responding to natural disasters and deploying to areas in harm's way to helping vaccinate Americans and assisting Customs and Border Protection at the Southwest border.

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