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DOD Readies in Florida for Hurricane Ian

With Hurricane Ian expected to hit Florida tomorrow, the National Guard troops in the state stand ready to be called into service, the Pentagon press secretary said during an afternoon briefing.

A satellite photo shows a hurricane near Florida.
Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian appears in the Gulf of Mexico, Sept. 27, 2022.
Photo By: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
VIRIN: 220927-Z-D0439-001

Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the Florida National Guard has more than 3,200 troops called on to state active duty and an additional 1,800 are standing by to be called upon, if needed.

"Florida has pre-positioned Guard soldiers, airmen and equipment at bases and armories around the state in preparation for deploying them to areas impacted by the storm," Ryder said. "These Guardsmen will provide route-clearing [and] search and rescue teams to support flood control and security."

Ryder also said aviation assets, such as helicopters, are on standby if needed, and that neighboring states are prepared to make 2,000 of their own Guard troops available.

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The department has also identified Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, as well as Moody Air Force Base, Warner-Robins Air Force Base and Marine Corps Logistics Base–Albany — all in Georgia — as both incident support bases and federal staging areas, Ryder said. In those roles, they will provide logistics support to disaster areas, if needed.

A large ship floats in a harbor.
Avoiding Ian
The USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul sorties from U.S. Naval Station Mayport, Fla., in advance of approaching Hurricane Ian, Sept. 27, 2022. Minneapolis-Saint Paul will join several other Mayport ships out at sea and away from the predicted path of the storm.
Photo By: Navy photo
VIRIN: 220927-N-N3764-0500A

The headquarters for both U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Central Command are located in Tampa, Florida, near where Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall, but Ryder said that's unlikely to have an effect on operations for either command.

"Hurricanes hitting the state of Florida are not new," Ryder said. "There are very comprehensive contingency plans that are put together to address these types of eventualities to ensure that there's 24/7 connectivity and command and control capability. The bottom line is neither of those commands will miss a beat regardless of whether the storm hits in the Tampa area or not."

Soldiers sit behind a row of computer screens.
Hurricane Prep
Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Ponder, a soldier in the Florida National Guard, reviews the latest updates about Hurricane Ian and its potential impact on Florida while stationed at the Joint Operations Center, Sept. 26, 2022.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Vann, Florida National Guard
VIRIN: 220926-Z-UC670-001
Service members stand near a trailer that carries a construction vehicle.
Hurricane Prep
U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. James Bishop and Staff Sgt. Dustin Hart, 202nd Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Engineers heavy equipment operators, load a skid-steer onto a trailer ahead of Hurricane Ian at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center in Starke, Fla., Sept. 26, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Tech Sgt. Chelsea Smith, Florida Air National Guard
VIRIN: 220926-Z-XV261-1013

No Evidence of Russian Nuclear Advancement  

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin's comments about the lengths to which Russia would go to achieve its goals led some to believe he had threatened the use of tactical nuclear weapons. But, as of yet, the Defense Department hasn't seen any change in Russia's nuclear posture, Ryder said.

"We obviously take these threats seriously, but, at this stage, we've not seen anything that would cause us to adjust our own nuclear posture at this time," Ryder said. "And as we've said previously, our focus continues to remain on supporting Ukraine in their fight and working closely with our allies and partners in terms of Russian force posture." 

In the Donbass region of Ukraine, Ryder said, the Russians are making only small gains in their effort to take territory there — "hundreds of meters" in some cases, while the Ukrainians have been largely effective in defending their territory.

A man speaks from podium.
Press Briefing
Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder conducts a press briefing at the Pentagon, Va., Sept. 27 2022.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Kubitza
VIRIN: 220927-D-PM193-2138

"[It's] nothing that I would consider significant," he said. "The Ukrainians have, so far, done a good job of holding the line there and repulsing those offensive operations."

In both northern and southern Ukraine, the general said, the Russians are mostly on the defense.

"The Ukrainians continue to make deliberate movement forward," he said.

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