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Northcom Positions Military Assets to Support Irma Relief Missions

  • Published
  • From a U.S. Northern Command News Release

U.S. Northern Command is working through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support authorities in Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to provide lifesaving and life-sustaining relief to those in affected areas.

Northcom's main focus today is the pre-positioning of search and rescue assets in Florida should those capabilities be requested.

Efforts in support of search and rescue missions include:

-- Military elements at Naval Air Station Key West and Homestead Air Reserve Base are assessing and reestablishing airfield operations for the possible employment of search and rescue assets.

-- U.S. Transportation Command is postured to airlift search and rescue assets staged in the United States around the storm as airfields become operational, and help move assets returning from Puerto Rico.

-- The U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command response personnel continue working to reopen airfields in Florida for use by military aircraft in assisting civil authorities' efforts to provide rapid humanitarian aid to those affected by Hurricane Irma, if requested. U.S. Air Force helicopters are also preparing for possible SAR operations.

-- The U.S. Navy continues to move the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima and the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York towards Key West. The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln arrived there last night with a variety of rotary-wing capabilities and will begin operations when requested.

-- The Army’s 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, is positioning its helicopters to be used in search and rescue and resupply of food, water, medical supplies and other commodities the state may need. In addition, the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is overseeing the Army's wheeled-vehicle effort called Task Force Truck. The convoy has begun movement from Fort Bragg with about 100 high-water vehicles and nearly 400 soldiers. The high-water vehicles will be used in efforts to locate and rescue people who may be trapped by the flooding.

-- The Defense Logistics Agency is providing 76 fuel trucks at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, with another 14 en route. Additional supplies include 834 commodity trailers to support victims displaced by Irma and 12 million meals.

-- The amphibious assault ships USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill continue to work in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, moving people and supplies to the islands.  An MV-22 Osprey aircraft assisted in the movement of British Marines from St. Croix to the British Virgin Islands.

Northcom's mission is to assist lead federal relief agencies in helping those affected by Hurricane Irma to minimize suffering while continuing its mission of defending the homeland.

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas Glass helps prepare a civilian for evacuation on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept. 9, 2017, during Hurricane Irma response efforts. Navy photo by Seaman Taylor King