WASHINGTON — For a few minutes this week, Defense Secretary James Mattis shed his usually diplomatic approach to dealing with reporter questions and channeled back to the battlefield persona of General Mattis.
Briefing reporters on a swatch of subjects, Mattis turned to the Pentagon’s response to Hurricane Florence, which battered Southeast United States earlier this month.
“The tactics, as you know, were to surround it on the seaward side and the landward side, but keep people out of the actual area forecasted to be hit,” Mattis said reporters. “So, we had troops who were ready to go and follow the storm in from both directions.”
The Pentagon provided a study flow of information on deployments of its troops, starting with a press conference before the hurricane made landfall and continuing with information updates around-the-clock.
By next week the Pentagon’s role in the hurricane and its aftermath should be concluded, Army officials told TMN this week.
“We still have troops committed to it. But clearly it’s winding down,” Mattis said.
Mattis said that when Pentagon troops stand down, it will be after coordination with FEMA and the governors, which is happening daily.
“We met all the requests from FEMA, which had the lead as you know under DHS. We met them at a timely manner,” Mattis said. “It worked, we’re working on the after action report.”
Mattis said the deep-water vehicles, fording vehicles and the boats will remain available.
He said, “I don’t think you reported much on it so that’s probably a good sign, isn’t it?”