Pentagon almost set to face Hurricane Dorian

Pentagon almost set to face Hurricane Dorian

Members of the 145th Maintenance Group at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base in Charlotte on Tuesday prepare the C-17 Globemaster III’s to deploy in support of Hurricane Dorian relief in advance of the storm's arrival. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Juan Paz)

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon plans to have all vulnerable equipment and personnel moved out of the possible paths of Hurricane Dorian by today, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

In addition, there are 26 bases prepared to support the response in varying ways to Hurricane Dorian, Pentagon officials told reporters Tuesday.

““Even though the storm’s category has changed, it’s still a life-threatening storm, with high winds expected to affect Florida and the Carolinas over the next few days,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told Pentagon reporters Tuesday. “Even without a landfall, there may be some significant impacts, which we’re preparing for.”

Gen. Terrence O’Shaughenessy, head of U.S. Northern Command, told Pentagon reporters than more than 4,000 National Guardsmen are pre-staged in Florida, and others will soon be in place Georgia and South Carolina.

Forty to 50 helicopter crews and 80 high-water vehicles have also been moved to perimeter positions to help in the hurricane aftermath, they said.

Non-essential personnel were ordered off about 10 military installations over the weekend and the last aircraft and other equipment is to be flown or moved today to military installations elsewhere, Pentagon officials said.

The personnel left behind are to remain in place to ride out the storm as well as, in some cases, be ready to assist in post-hurricane missions.

Over the weekend the Navy sent frigates and destroyers out to sea to get them a distance away from the hurricane. The Air Force secured some of its smaller fighters in hardened hangers for protection. However, larger aircraft such as the fleet of KC-135 aerial refueling tankers were flown to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.

Among the installations under the hurricane orders: Patrick Air Force base, Naval Station Mayport, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, MacDill Air Force base, all in Florida; Fort Stewart in Georgia; and Shaw Air Force base, Joint Base Charleston, Marine Corps Recruiting Depot Parris Island, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, all in South Carolina.

Fort Bragg in North Carolina has not yet been ordered to evacuate non-essential personnel. As of early Tuesday afternoon EDT, Fort Bragg was designated to be one of the centers coordinating post-hurricane operations as a Federal Emergency Management Agency staging area, Pentagon officials said.

Major Gen. James Eifert, head of the Florida National Guard, told reporters on Friday that almost 2,000 Air Force and Army Guardsmen will be mobilized to help hurricane recovery operations in that state.

Last year’s hurricanes were extremely damaging to many of the military’s major bases. Funding still has not come through to repair that damage.

For example, in Florida, last year’s Category 5 Hurricane Michael directly hit Tyndall Air Force Base, damaging more than 700 buildings and forcing the relocation of 11,000 personnel and 46 aircraft. Rebuilding efforts are estimated to cost more than $4.7 billion — but repairs halted on May 1 because of budget disagreements between the White House and Congress.

Rains from Hurricane Florence damaged Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River, and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, all in North Carolina. Major damage remains at all three facilities.

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