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August 29, 2006

One year ago today...

From USA Today, via the White House "Communications Update":

BILOXI, Miss. — A year ago, President Bush visited this area ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and saw piles of rubble strewn over beaches and neighborhoods. He met with people who lost everything.

On a return visit Monday, he said 98% of the debris is gone, the beaches are pristine, and the Biloxi-Gulfport area is slowly rebuilding. He praised the region's rebirth and the resolve of its residents to restore their lives.

“It's a sense of renewal here. It may be hard for those of you who have endured the last year to really have that sense of change, but for a fellow who was here and now a year later comes back, things are changing,” Bush said in the first part of a two-day swing to mark today's anniversary of Katrina.

“There's still challenges. There's still more to be done,” Bush said, noting that it will take “years, not months” for a full recovery.

Was it only a year ago? When Katrina came a'visiting, and exposed just how badly government agencies at all levels could screw things up, and how well others could perform under pressure? How badly the media could cover something? Well, until we saw how well they did for Lebanon...

Regardless, for some of us, it's still yesterday.

I just picked up a copy of The Great Deluge, Douglas Brinkley's well-reviewed and supposed-to-be-evenhanded book on Katrina and the aftermath. I hope so - it will be nice to see it laid out in an organized fashion, vice the chaos that it actually was. Might gain some perspective.

by John on Aug 29, 2006

October 07, 2005

Reporting out on Katrina...

...still. I'm late with this - Sorry Spc. Van T!

Soldiers involved in the Katrina recovery effort - blog it at Camp Katrina!

by John on Oct 07, 2005

September 27, 2005

Tuesday olio

A post in which I punish you for *not* having broadband access. But at least all the big stuff opens in a new window...

First up: The Neo-Con Blogger(TM) has a .wmv for you. (When you get to the site, remember to right-click and open in a new window)

For the 4.3888045831 of you who *haven't* been everywhere else in the milblog world or Free Republic before coming here, go check out this gesture of defiance. H/t, Ry.

Here's the punisher: a 3 meg Powerpoint Show about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. It came from France - and might well be intended as a snark, I don't know. Cultural differences can make things seem one way or another. Regardless - it's a good collection of pictures, put to music. I wasn't offended by it - but I'm not sure the author didn't *intend* for me to be offended. Mebbe Jack knows. Anyway - right click and save as and run it from your desktop for best performance.

The Great USA.

That's what I've got this morning. If you are a person who checks back, I'll probably add to this post as the mood (and access to non-work computer) allows.

Snerk! This is one reason to keep Europe alive... h/t, the Blogfather.

Barb's back! And she scouted at least one castle for the Castle Argghhh!!! Someday We'll Do It European Castle Tour.

Cassie has a Gun Pr0n caption contest up. Don't embarass me over there - that *ain't* a tank in the picture!

Speaking of tanks, and tankers...

by John on Sep 27, 2005
» NIF links with: The Adventures of the Cosmic Mighty Force
» Scotts Conservative News & Commentary links with: Attitude As Only the Corps Can Deliver

September 24, 2005

Ya Gotta Love the Irish

They always get to the point. 'Course, it sometimes takes 'em forever to get there, but they do make the ride enjoyable...

This from Newton Emerson of the Irish Times, 8 September 2005:

As the full horror of Hurricane Katrina sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if this is the end of George Bush's presidency. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that every copy of the US Constitution was destroyed in the storm. Otherwise President Bush will remain in office until noon on January 20th, 2009, as required by the 20th Amendment, after which he is barred from seeking a third term anyway under the 22nd Amendment.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the entire political agenda of George Bush's second term will not still be damaged in some terribly satisfying way. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that the entire political agenda of George Bush's second term consists of repealing the 22nd Amendment. Otherwise, with a clear Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, he can carry on doing pretty much whatever he likes.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the Republican Party itself will now suffer a setback at the congressional mid-term elections next November. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that people outside the disaster zone punish their local representatives for events elsewhere a year previously, both beyond their control and outside their remit, while people inside the disaster zone reward their local representatives for an ongoing calamity they were supposed to prevent. Otherwise, the Democratic Party will suffer a setback at the next congressional election.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if an official inquiry will shift the blame for poor planning and inadequate flood defences on to the White House. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody admits that emergency planning is largely the responsibility of city and state agencies, and nobody notices that the main levee which broke was the only levee recently modernised with federal funds. Otherwise, an official inquiry will pin most of the blame on the notoriously corrupt and incompetent local governments of New Orleans and Louisiana.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if George Bush contributed to the death toll by sending so many national guard units to Iraq. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody recalls that those same columnists have spent the past two years blaming George Bush for another death toll by not sending enough national guard units to Iraq. Otherwise, people might wonder why they have never previously read a single article advocating large-scale military redeployment during the Caribbean hurricane season.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking how a civilised city can descend into anarchy. The answer is that only a civilised city can descend into anarchy. As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if George Bush should be held responsible for the terrible poverty in the southern states revealed by the flooding. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody holds Bill Clinton responsible for making Mississippi the poorest state in the union throughout his entire term as president, or for making Arkansas the second-poorest state in the union throughout his entire term as governor. Otherwise, people might suspect that it is a bit more complicated than that.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if George Bush should not be concerned by accusations of racism against the federal government. The answer is almost certainly yes, provided nobody remembers that Jesse Jackson once called New York "Hymietown" and everybody thinks Condoleezza Rice went shopping for shoes when the hurricane struck because she cannot stand black people. Otherwise sensible Americans of all races will be more concerned by trite, cynical and dangerous political opportunism.

As the full horror of that sinks in, this columnist is simply glad that everybody cares.

'Nother hat tip to V-23.

BTW, beer's on ice fer the next time you come over the pond, Jimbo.

by CW4BillT on Sep 24, 2005
» Villainous Company links with: Too Funny
» J Rob's House of Opinions links with: Take This Guy to the Pub

September 19, 2005

Food for thought.

A juxtaposition of things today offers food for thought.

The Confederate Yankee has been doing some digging, and suggests that rebuilding New Orleans as it was is perhaps, long term, just not a good idea. Go read it. I'll wait.

Okay, yer back. Now, what makes that interesting today is that in addition to the paean to the Coast Guard that Blake sent me yesterday, he also sent along the picture he took of Fort Knox, Maine, along with some history.

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Golly, John, but I hope you have broadband, as I'm sending several pictures with this. The first two are the ones I couldn't send earlier, and the other two relate to the little essay below. I particularly like the Ft Knox one, because it shows how a single fort could command both entrances to the anchorage at Bucksport. I don't recall if I mentioned it in my earlier post, but Bucksport was important enough to rate a large coastal fortification specifically because it was a major source of spars for shipbuilding, and supplied both the Portsmouth and Boston Navy Yards. [emphasis mine] There's also one picture of this garden spot I'm living in, just for GP. [see post below this one] I expect that a lot of your readers have already seen Kuwait at least once...

So, what's the point? One reason that New Orleans and the mouth of the Mississippi gets so much attention is because of the Port of New Orleans. How much money do we spend to keep the river flowing through there, if the river *really* wants to be somewhere else?

And the point of Fort Knox - Bucksport is to point out... realities change. We don't need spars for merchant and naval vessels anymore. Perhaps this is the opportunity to fundamentally change the nature of New Orleans. It's certainly food for thought.

Not that we'll have much discussion that way. People are generally short-sighted, and politicians are sensitive to people. 50 years is a long time from now. Politicians will get votes for spending the money here, now... and with the exception of a Strom Thurmond, none now serving will be around to hear the blame if the scientists are correct.

So I doubt we'll seriously have the discussion of just what New Orleans *should* be, given this opportunity to make fundamental changes. And I'm not spitting in the eye of Donna Brazile, Mayor Nagin, or others on this, I'm just saying let's take a look at the alternatives.

by John on Sep 19, 2005
» NIF links with: ARGH!
» The Glittering Eye links with: Catching my eye: morning A through Z

September 17, 2005

Reporting out on Katrina

Just a little local update.

Dear Colleagues,

More than 800 families from the Gulf Coast registered at the Gregg Community Center in KCMO where agencies like American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities of Missouri and Kansas, FEMA, Concerned Clergy, Housing Authority, KCMO School District, City of Kansas City and others joined to provide services.

Many families in shelters in cities like Houston have not given up hope of returning to their homes.

Evacuees at the Gregg Center were very patient and very quiet. Most planned to stay in the Kansas City area.

Saturday, Sept. 17 is the last day for operations at the Gregg Center. Later arriving families will be directed to the American Red Cross at 211 W Armour, KCMO 64111 (816) 931 8400. They will be additionally referred to agencies like Catholic Charities.

Beyond the emotional toll, the "startup" costs for families are significant. Imagine getting off a bus in a new city with just an overnight bag.

Catholic Charities of MO and KS have organized a database and phone bank at (816) 221-4377 x 315 to manage:

1. Donations of housing,
2. Volunteers,
3. Churches and other organizations willing to "sponsor" families, and
4. Families who have unmet needs.

Landlords not willing to donate at least 90 days of free rent are asked NOT to call the above number but are invited to register their rental property on one of the many web sites such as

The outpouring of generosity has been remarkable. The individual acts of kindness on behalf of New Kansas Citians have been extraordinary.

If you have suggestions and as you hear of the needs of families, please do not hesitate to call Catholic Charities in Missouri or Kansas.

Mark Henke
Catholic Charities, Catholic Community Services
2220 Central Ave
Kansas City KS 66102-4797

by John on Sep 17, 2005
» Jack Yoest links with: The Salvation Army and Hurricane Katrina
» Jack Yoest links with: The Salvation Army and Hurricane Katrina

September 15, 2005

Thursday Olio

Coupla things that struck me today.

First up - Tom DeLay and his comments about "Winning the War on Fat in the Federal Budget."

Some of us are not amused.

While I am not a fan of Rush Limbaugh's show (I do generally like his monologues, but once the callers start in, I'm outta there, I can only take so much group-think before my mind wanders), I'll say that Limbaugh's explanation is *also* plausible. In fact... I *hope* he's correct, otherwise I have to conclude that Mr. DeLay was hung-over or otherwise incapacitated. Y'all can decide as you wish.

The whole thing revolves around paying for Katrina. There's this little bit from the Wall Street Journal:

Some public-spirited folks in Bozeman, Montana, have come up with a wonderful idea to help Uncle Sam offset some of the $62 billion federal cost of Hurricane Katrina relief. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that Montanans from both sides of the political aisle have petitioned the city council to give the feds back a $4 million earmark to pay for a parking garage in the just-passed $286 billion highway bill. As one of these citizens, Jane Shaw, told us: "We figure New Orleans needs the money right now a lot more than we need extra downtown parking space."

Which got us thinking: Why not cancel all of the special-project pork in the highway bill and dedicate the $25 billion in savings to emergency relief on the Gulf Coast? Is it asking too much for Richmond, Indiana, to give up $3 million for its hiking trail, or Newark, New Jersey, to put a hold on its $2 million bike path?

The whole article is here, if you are a subscriber.

Now *there* is an idea that even lefties should be able to get behind. Take some of the 'nice to haves' out of the current budget and apply them to the 'need to haves' from the month's/year's disasters so far... Lefties are willing to tell me that I should skimp nice to haves at home and fork over the dough to government for need to haves like bike paths... why can't we divert that money for what is obviously *not* a crying and compelling need, to one that is? It's not like we can't reallocate the funds next year.

Further - and I've sent this to my delegation... lets put a checkbox on the federal tax form that allows me to allocate funds to disaster relief... a self-selected surcharge. I can either do it as an "add" to my tax bill or as a debit from my refund. States do it all the time. Why not the Feds?

I'd tick it off if I knew where it was going... and yes, I understand money is fungible, spare me that discussion.

Here is another interesting observation. Where I work, there are some pretty left-leaning people, who work for my firm, the government, and other firms. I've been out shaking the charity tree and just talking to people about who and what they have for giving habits. Not inquisitorial, just in context. Given where I work and who with, the lefties are a decided minority, and pretty muted, though there are at least three who are pretty aggressive, one even pugnacious, in their politics. But all in a collegial way, lest anyone think we have rollicking and brawling politics in the office. We don't, and there is plenty of group-think around here, too. [Get to the point, Donovan, sheesh!] The point is... every right-winger I've spoken to has given money, some substantial amounts, to Katrina relief, and been keeping up with their other giving. With two exceptions, the left-leaners have not, or have given token sums. What's more interesting is the underlier - we all make, broadly speaking, about the same amount of money. I suspect both groups give similar amounts of money, too. Since I'm not really digging into it, and it *is* self-reported, this is not good data... but the lefties give it to groups with direct political agendas, whether parties or organizations like NARAL, NOW, ACLU, etc. Righties tend to give it more to United Way, CFC, Red Cross, and faith-based organizations that are more service-oriented than policy oriented.

Just an observation.

Moving on... Today is a big day in history for CAPT Heinrichs, Mostly Cajun, Neffi... their branch debuted!

1916 First use of tanks in war, by the British in the Battle of the Somme.

1938 Br PM Neville Chamberlain visits Hitler at Berchtesgaden. Thus ltidying up the groundwork for WWII in the aftermath of WWI. So obvious in hindsight, but a lot of people thought it was a good idea at the time. Does any of this sound vaguely familiar... echoes of the 90's? Does anyone doubt that if French Prime Minister Daladier had ordered the French Army into the Rhineland, to enforce the provisions of Treaty of Versailles (Arts. 42, 43) he would have been reviled as much as President Bush has been... by generally the same group of people?

1944 Marines land on Peleliu, 450 miles east of Mindanao in the Philippines. Sadly, the place is more famous now as the setting for Survivor, Palau. (I *detest* the Survivor shows... which makes me a distinct minority amongst my compadres).

You want to read about surviving in Palau, I recommend this: Marine At War. by Russell Davis (I read it in 5th Grade - the first of many, many, many war-related books to follow.)

1950 Inchon Landing: UN troops attack behind North Korean lines. MacArthur's last great stroke of genius.

by John on Sep 15, 2005
» Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated links with: Happy birthday, tankers!

Reporting out on Katrina

Here in my little corner of middle-America, we've taken in 20-some families and a total of 70-or-so people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. We've got extended families, couples, and singles, including a gentleman who was evac'd by plane to Houston, told there was no room, flown to Phoenix, told there was no room, flown to Kansas City, told there was no room, and sent on to Leavenworth in a van. He is 78 years old. A veteran of the Merchant Marine, he allowed as he had never traveled so far in 48 hours in his life. And that he wouldn't mind if he never did so again. Nonetheless, he's got a great attitude, and immediately settled in and started trying to find his family, scattered throughout the country.

We have a father who has children on the east and west coasts, neither of whome are with his ex-wife (their mother)... and no one knows why. Fortunately, both children ended up with relatives, and Mom will home on one, and Dad on another. No, I have no idea how that happened, except that obviously, these being among our first arrivals, the system was a little rough around the edges.

We were told we weren't going to receive any evacuees, and then of course, they showed up. The team of public and private agencies, allied with big-hearted people and churches just went into execute mode and got them all in housing, got them food, vouchers for clothing etc. The kids are in school, and four people already have jobs.

And most are chafing to get home. There's been some demand on our counseling services, and there are a surprising number of families that got broken up, but that's being remedied fairly quickly.

A lot of our pantry stocks have been depleted and people and businesses have been stepping in to restock and in some cases, take on sponsorship. We've got churches stepping in to sponsor whole families, for months.

On the flip side, we're encouraging people to get hooked into the community, get integrated, and not sit isolated and brooding in their apartments, motels, and homes - it's important that these people become as self-supporting as they can - for them, not just to ease the strain on supporting services.

Our local agencies are spending funds with little to no expectation of getting reimbursed by the Big Guys, like the Red Cross, etc, who have been the focus of fund-raising efforts. Not because we're being stiffed - but because, in the end, they will end up with the long term bills, and because they are going to get hit with the costs of maintaining any long-term facilities that get established for the true hard-luck cases. My point here is to remind you that it is *important* that if you are a charitable giving type - to not neglect your local charities who have probably already punched large holes in their budgets.

Thus far, we've done well, and had no incidents, which is frankly unusual, considering we are getting a traumatized population, some of whom's lives have literally been changed forever by the hurricane.

Which brings me to my third point. #1 was you've probably got people in your community and may not know it. #2 was your local agencies have been handling expenses above what was budgeted... keep that in mind, and help if you can. Volunteering time is helping, btw... #3 - We know that in the evacuee population there are, essentially, escaped prisoners and other predators.

We're putting these people (we've so far been able to limit "in-home" adoption to families) in people's homes, who have volunteered their homes in this time of crisis.

And the ACLU, which I don't detest *quite* as much as Jay does... is all about grumbling that if you are going to accept people into your home - that the people you are letting in don't have to answer any potentially embarrassing questions.

But, perhaps, if the ACLU really thinks the government should be doing this exclusively, they are being fully consistent.

The ACLU would be better served asking why local and state government was so unprepared to help the helpless.

by John on Sep 15, 2005
» dave's not here | David Earney links with: Link Blast

September 10, 2005

Reporting Out on Katrina

More help from Foreign Sources.


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050909-N-8154G-070 Gulf of Mexico (Sept. 9, 2005) - A Mexican Navy Mi-8 helicopter takes off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), off the coast of Mississippi. The Mexican and Dutch Navies have joined with the U.S. Navy in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The Navy's involvement in the Hurricane Katrina humanitarian assistance operations is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the Department of Defense. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Jeremy L. Grisham (RELEASED)

The Netherlands:

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050908-N-8154G-024 D'Iberville, Miss. (Sept. 8, 2005) – Dutch Navy Sailors assigned to the frigate Van Amstel (F 831), lend a helping hand by carrying a box of household goods to a Hurricane Katrina survivor’s vehicle in D’Iberville, Miss. Sailors from the Netherlands, United States and Mexican navies are assisting in the relief efforts where needed. The Navy's involvement in the Hurricane Katrina humanitarian assistance operations is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the Department of Defense. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Jeremy L. Grisham (RELEASED)

I've updated the Military Response to Katrina picture album. Older pics are in a separate folder - new pics are what displays first. The watermark on the pictures is for tracking purposes, all of these photos are public domain. If you'd like one without a watermark, just drop me a note.

To view the album, click here.

by John on Sep 10, 2005
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: FEMA Chooses Direct Deposits Over Debit Cards

Reporting out on Katrina

New stuff from Sarenyon, the Castle Correspondent in the Mississippi Defense Coordinating Element.

This one is passing through DOD channels right now. I don't have time to verify, but seems legit anyway.

A great story too:

These are reports from the last two days, I've pruned the message to fit in this yahoo e-mail format...

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050906-N-6403R-019 New Orleans (Sept. 6, 2005) – U.S. Navy Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Kenith Mitchell organizes supplies aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) during a vertical replenishment. Iwo Jima is currently in port in the city of New Orleans serving as the command and control center for Joint Task Force Katrina, the combined military effort to provide aid for the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. The Navy's involvement in the Hurricane Katrina humanitarian assistance operations is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the Department of Defense. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Joshua T. Rodriguez (RELEASED)

Skipper USS Iwo Jima's Eye-View Of KATRINA Relief Effort

-----------------Capt USS Iwo Jima Reports-------------

Subject: IWO Update - 6 Sep 05

Hello All;

Since I took over IWO JIMA over a year ago, I felt as though I had control of the destiny of the ship. I thought I lost it today, the first time ever, and that we were merely reacting to events rather than controlling them.

Within the first 24 hours after arriving pierside in New Orleans, IWO JIMA has become many things. We are one of the few full service airports in the area and have been operating aircraft on and off our deck for almost 15 hours each day. We are also one of the only air conditioned facilities within a ten mile radius and though we have had problems making water from the polluted Mississippi, we are also the only hot shower within miles.

All day long we have been accommodating local policemen, firemen, state troopers, national guard, 82nd Airborne division personnel with hot showers and hot food. I met an ambulance team from Minnesota who just drove straight to New Orleans when they heard of the tragedy and have been supporting hospitals free of charge for the last week. They hadn't had a hot meal in over a week and were grateful to have the opportunity to have lunch onboard. The Deputy Commander of the RI National Guard reported to me that he had Guardsmen who were whipped, but after a hot shower and an IWO JIMA breakfast were ready to hit the patrols again. Rarely have I seen so many smiling, happy faces than on these people. After two weeks in the trenches sleeping on concrete floors, no shower, and eating MREs, good ship IWO JIMA has been a Godsend.

I had an opportunity to talk to the Director of Homeland Security for a few minutes in my cabin. I asked him if there was anything more I could do for him, he asked if he could get a shower. I was glad to turnover my cabin to him. The local FEMA coordinator and his logistics and security teams were on my quarterdeck this afternoon asking permission to set up their command center on the pier next to the ship.

While they had sophisticated command and control equipment, they had no place to berth their 250 FEMA members. We were glad to give them a home.
Contrary to the press, all the FEMA people I met had been on station since last Sunday (before the Hurricane hit), never left the area, and have been in the field ever since. The command duty officer was told that one state trooper had driven 80 miles to get to the ship. He said that the word was out: Come to IWO JIMA. We expect that the flood gates will open on us.

Early this morning we received our first medical emergency: an elderly woman with stroke-like symptoms. Throughout the day we received about a dozen medical emergencies, the most serious was an elderly man who was stabbed in the chest and was bleeding to death. The doctors performed surgery on him and saved his life. I toured the hospital ward; all our charges were elderly and disadvantaged individuals. As with Hotel IWO JIMA, we expect to see many more casualties tomorrow.

Our curse appears to be our flight deck and our extraordinary command and control capabilities. Our challenge today was the tidal wave of Flag and General Officers that flooded onboard, 17 total, virtually all without notice. I couldn't believe there were so many involved in this effort and they all wanted to come here. They poured onto the flight deck in one helicopter after another in order to meet with General Honore, the Joint Task Force Commander.

The majority showed up around the same time and all wanted to leave at the same time, making it a nightmare for our flight deck team to control and coordinate flights on and off the ship for all these admirals and generals while supporting the humanitarian effort. I spent most of the day running around the ship getting these people off and on helicopters and in and out of the meetings and command spaces. It was like herding cats. But the ship performed superbly and "flexed" to meet the challenge. Regretfully, we expect nearly 20 admirals and generals onboard tomorrow for more meetings. To add to the challenges, virtually all of these commands are sending liaison staffs to help coordinate issues, and already a number of admirals and generals have
"permanently" embarked. The Inn is full.

I talked to one of the FEMA team members who had also worked the disaster relief for 9/11. I asked him how much more difficult was the Katrina relief effort compared to 9/11. He said it was without measure:

thousand of times worse than 9/11.

He couldn't articulate the magnitude of the destruction. Despite all the challenges, I think we regained control by the end of the day. We are forearmed for tomorrow's onslaught.

At our evening Dept Head meeting, I asked all my principals to tell me what the stupidest thing they heard or saw today. The list was enormous. But the most absurd item was when my Tactical Action Officer, who runs our 24 hour command center (CIC) got a phone call from the Director of the New Orleans Zoo. Apparently, there was a large fire near the zoo. It was so intense that the fire department had to abandon the cause, but military helos were heavily engaged in scooping up giant buckets of water and dumping in on the blaze in an effort to put it out. The director complained to us that the noise from the helos was disturbing the animals, especially the elephants, which he was most concerned about, and asked us to stop. The TAO thanked him for his interest in national defense. [emphasis mine, ed]

It is inspiring to meet and talk to such a huge number of individuals who are doing the Lord's work to recover this city. They have had little sleep, little food, no showers, working 16-18 hours a day, and in some cases no pay, and they are thanking ME for a hot meal! Only in America. We have turned the corner. It will take an awful long time, but we have turned the corner.

All the best,

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050906-N-6403R-024 New Orleans (Sept. 6, 2005) – U.S. Navy Aviation Ordnancemen Airman Kyle Baker and Kenith Mitchell organize supplies aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) during a vertical replenishment. Iwo Jima is currently in port in the city of New Orleans serving as the command and control center for Joint Task Force Katrina, the combined military effort to provide aid for the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. The Navy's involvement in the Hurricane Katrina humanitarian assistance operations is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the Department of Defense. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Joshua T. Rodriguez (RELEASED)

Heh. The Curse of Brass. Don't have the best Mess Hall in the area, either. I can tell you *that* from experience. Great for the troops (which is why you do it) but a pain in the butt with all the visitors you get.

The thing about the New Orleans Zoo director... mirrors my experiences in disasters (and, I think highlights some of the flaws in reporting from NOLA). People in a disaster (including those covering it) tend to live in a bubble, focussed on their own immediate needs, and have no real awareness of the big picture (not their fault) but also don't really care, either. One of the skills that's hard to develop is being able to field those calls, empathize with the individual - but not lose sight of the big picture yourself. It's tough work.

Second note:

Subject: IWO Update - 7 Sep 05 Hello All;

We finally had a chance to have Captain's Call this morning. The ship has been running at full speed for 8 days straight with a myriad of changing missions and requirements piled on top of us. I thought it best to tell the crew where I thought this was going and what impact we have made. I told them that as with any contingency operations there is that initial surge of energy and inspiration that often times gives way to frustration and tedium; I did not want them to underestimate the magnitude of what they were accomplishing each day by their hard work on the flight deck, the galley, the well deck, CIC, Radio Central (JMC), on the pier, and in the engineering spaces to support this great undertaking. Every job on the ship is important and the contribution of IWO JIMA has already been enormous.

Our contributions have been growing. Today, we opened out doors to 900-1,200 Army, National Guard, and local law enforcement personnel to take showers and get hot meals. We were getting overwhelmed. There was a steady stream of 60 to 100 every hour on the quarterdeck asking to come onboard and get refreshed. The word has obviously gotten out. One Army Captain told the Command Master Chief that his unit of 60 soldiers had come from 60 miles away because his general told him to "go to IWO JIMA and they'll take care of you." We couldn't say no.

Not satisfied with the record-setting flight operations yesterday, the flight deck team nearly doubled the number of aircraft hits. At one point the team was bringing in Army Blackhawks two at a time, one group after another in perfect sequence. It was an impressive sight to behold. Medical casualties continued to come onboard the ship, some by stretcher and ambulance, others by air or boat. After yesterday, the Medical folks reworked their procedures, so today everything flowed smoothly.

Supply department has served up thousands of meals; the mess line never closes. Deck department got back to their roots and conducted boat operations and a sterngate marriage with TORTUGA's LCM-8 landing craft, moving more supplies to our sister ship. But lest we forget, the bedrock of IWO JIMA's strength lies in three simple things: electricity, air conditioning, hot water - all
provided by the uncomplaining engineers.

But of all the manifold capabilities of good ship IWO JIMA, medical, logistic, and air support, our command and control capabilities have moved to the forefront.

It almost sounds surreal but IWO JIMA has literally become the headquarters, the "center of the universe" for all Federal recovery efforts - DoD as well as civilian. It is on this ship that the myriad efforts have all come together. Yesterday, for the first time ever, some 17 admirals and generals got together with the Joint Task Force Commander, General Honore, face to face to coordinate the numerous and ever growing military recovery and support efforts. Today, the same cadre of admirals and generals were back onboard but this time accompanied by the civilian side. FEMA has now established their headquarters on the pier along side (and onboard IWO JIMA) to better coordinate their efforts with us. But with this has come an ever growing number of staff members embarking on the ship. Our population has grown from a crew of some 1,200 to nearly 2,500 (including several hundred guardsmen and soldiers living onboard) with all the detachments, augments, and now senior staffs. I think we are now up to one three-star, one two-star, and four one-stars embarked good ship IWO JIMA. We are bursting at the seams. We have spent the vast majority of our days taking care of and chasing down the myriad staff members. It is like herding cats, except these cats fly on and off our flight deck periodically.

I had a chance to meet Governor Blanco of Louisiana and her Lieutenant Governor today when she came onboard for the giant 1200 briefing with General Honore and were later joined by Admiral Nathman and Vice Admiral Fitzgerald. The ships Ready Room was bursting at the seams with senior officers and high officials - you had to step outside just to change your mind. I had seen the Governor on TV many times.

She looked different in person: tired and worn out. She told me that she was averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night, but smiled, "I guess that's about what you get in the military." You could see the severe strain of the past weeks events.

I quoted her the famous line from Churchill the night be became Prime Minister of wartime Britain, "that it was as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all of my past life had been but preparation for this moment and this trial." The recovery from the damage of Hurricane Katrina is an unprecedented trial for the Governor and many, many others. My observation is that America, throughout her history, has always been slow to respond, but once that powerful engine gets into gear it is massive and unstoppable. I suspect this will also be the case for the Gulf Coast.

It has become our tradition at the evening department head meeting to go around the room and have each person list the stupidest or silliest thing they heard or saw during the day. As you can imagine, the log book is overflowing with accounts. Yesterday it was the helos and the elephants at the zoo. Today it was me. I have been inundated with doing interviews: CNN, Pentagon press, Regina Mobley and Channel 13 news, the Boston Globe, Carla McCabe and the Army Times, and finally Greta Van Susturen.

We did a spot with Greta on the pier this morning with the massive bow of IWO JIMA in the background and helos flying on and off the ship with great noise - an impressive backdrop for this puffed up officer. As I was being interviewed by Greta, a pair of Blackhawks swooped onto the flight deck sending up a great wind which blew off my ball cap. I instinctively scrambled after it before it blew into the water. When I turned around the FOX News photographer looked at me and smiled, "I got that on film." Look for me chasing my hat down the pier on the next Fox News spot.

All the best,

------end message-------

Sarenyon concludes:

Like I mentioned, a great story IMO.

Things are getting better here in MS as well. Thanks
for the support.

For all our paltry efforts, you're welcome, Captain. You efforts, represented below, are what matters!

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U.S. Army Guardsman Spc. James Meidl, heavy equipment operator, from the 890th Engineering Battalion, Columbia, Miss., operates a D-7 Dozer to help clear the roads while in Pass Christian, Miss., during humanitarian relief efforts in support of Joint Task Force Katrina, Sept. 4, 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. James M. Bowman)

by John on Sep 10, 2005
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: FEMA Chooses Direct Deposits Over Debit Cards

September 09, 2005


We owe Alvaro a *huge* debt.

Meet Alvaro's New Orleans.

As New Orleans meets Katrina.

This slideshow hit me in ways the MSM never did.

Gracias, Amigo. And gracias, the inventors of the digital camera.

And while I give Mayor Nagin credit for trying to overcome this problem in his reform efforts prior to the hurricane and the flood, we also need to keep this in mind:

As for the flood of federal dollars into Louisiana coffers, Rep. Tom Tancredo notes, "The head of the FBI in New Orleans just this past year described the state's public corruption as 'epidemic, endemic, and entrenched. No branch of government is exempt.' The question is not whether Congress should provide for those in need, but whether state and local officials who have been derelict in their duty should be trusted with that money."

There are some babies that *should* get tossed with the floodwaters...

by John on Sep 09, 2005
» Blog o'RAM links with: Good Hearts
» Blog o'RAM links with: Good Hearts

Reporting out on Katrina.

First up - this from our man in the Defense Coordinating Element in Mississppi:

For something somewhat off the subject, but I must clarify: I was not commanding that BFIST, it was ONE of my BFISTs. I think what I said was: "Funny thing is that Goblins picture is actually one of my M7 BFIST during OIF. If you look closely, the bumper number says 1-10 F as in 1st BN, 10th FA, 3 BDE, 3 ID, Ft. Benning GA" Sorry for the confusion, I owned the BFIST in that I was the Battery Commander. The actually track commander was LT Jackson, and I would never want to take credit away from any of my soldiers.

Still, great things going on here in MS and things are getting better each day. I have an interesting story about the Politics of this whole thing... NORTHCOM asked us if we in MS needed the USS Comfort (Hospital Ship) for any patients. After getting with FEMA, MEMA, and the MSNG it was determined that MS currently had enough hospital bed space and had other hospitals coming up on-line with-in a couple of days. The effort to get electricity restored is truly heroic. So we decided that it would be better if the Comfort moved on to LA, specifically N.O. Well we ended up getting calls earlier this evening from Navy Admirals and NORTHCOM asking us to clarify our positions, because SEN Lott had promised that the Comfort would be there in a news conference. In the mean time we have a Carnival Cruise Ship due in in two days to take on a bunch of homeless. But because of the damaged dock space there is no way we can hold both the Comfort and the Cruise Ship. So now we're jumping
through our butt to dock the USS Comfort for one day then have it move on to N.O. just to satisfy the promise of a Senator. Oh, I just love it when politics and the military mix.

But, other than that little snafu, things are getting better and better. Thanks for all of your support.

Then comes these two articles. First, from the NYT:

September 9, 2005 Political Issues Snarled Plans for Troop Aid By ERIC LIPTON, ERIC SCHMITT and THOM SHANKER WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 - As New Orleans descended into chaos last week and Louisiana's governor asked for 40,000 soldiers, President Bush's senior advisers debated whether the president should speed the arrival of active-duty troops by seizing control of the hurricane relief mission from the governor.

For reasons of practicality and politics, officials at the Justice Department and the Pentagon, and then at the White House, decided not to urge Mr. Bush to take command of the effort. Instead, the Washington officials decided to rely on the growing number of National Guard personnel flowing into Louisiana, who were under Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco's control.

The debate began after officials realized that Hurricane Katrina had exposed a critical flaw in the national disaster response plans created after the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the administration's senior domestic security officials, the plan failed to recognize that local police, fire and medical personnel might be incapacitated.

As criticism of the response to Hurricane Katrina has mounted, one of the most pointed questions has been why more troops were not available more quickly to restore order and offer aid. Interviews with officials in Washington and Louisiana show that as the situation grew worse, they were wrangling with questions of federal/state authority, weighing the realities of military logistics and perhaps talking past each other in the crisis.

To seize control of the mission, Mr. Bush would have had to invoke the Insurrection Act, which allows the president in times of unrest to command active-duty forces into the states to perform law enforcement duties. But decision makers in Washington felt certain that Ms. Blanco would have resisted surrendering control, as Bush administration officials believe would have been required to deploy active-duty combat forces before law and order had been re-established.

While combat troops can conduct relief missions without the legal authority of the Insurrection Act, Pentagon and military officials say that no active-duty forces could have been sent into the chaos of New Orleans on Wednesday or Thursday without confronting law-and-order challenges.

But just as important to the administration were worries about the message that would have been sent by a president ousting a Southern governor of another party from command of her National Guard, according to administration, Pentagon and Justice Department officials. [italics mine]

The whole article is available here.

It's been asked around water coolers and in the blogs, and among the punditocracy... what would the pols be saying *if* Bush had done this?

Frankly, I honestly suspect the current vitriol aimed at the President might well be worse than it already is... because we wouldn't now know how botched and state authorities were in their ability to command and control. And while I can easily cut NOLA some slack on that issue - I have none for the State.

There is another article, this one in the Washington Post: Some Urge Greater Use of Troops in Major Disasters

By Bradley Graham
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 9, 2005; A15

The breakdown of local and state agencies that tried to respond to Hurricane Katrina has spurred fresh debate about whether disasters of such magnitude ought to be turned over to the U.S. military and other federal authorities to manage at the outset.

National plans developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks rest on the notion that police, fire and other emergency groups are best positioned to serve as first responders. Federal agencies are supposed to function as backup to state and local ones, and military forces are meant to play a largely supporting role to civilian authorities. [italics mine]

But Katrina showed what can happen when the foundation of this organizational structure is quickly overwhelmed and disintegrates, according to government officials and independent analysts.

That whole article is available here. You should read both in their entirety.

I'd like to note that the planning assumptions contained in the italicized paragraph WERE THE PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS FOR PLANNING PRIOR TO 9/11 as well. In other words, under every administration since the establishment of a Federal Response Plan, back in the 70's. The only plans that have the Federal Government in charge from day one are the Garden Plot plans, which were nuclear war plans, and would have been implemented if a nuclear strike hit the US, or if the President invoked the Insurrection Act.

In short - while we can still talk about eaches in the Federal response, this is, at root, a political problem. That both sides are responsible for. Not just President Bush, or "The Republicans". Because Democrats accepted the same planning assumptions.

Now the parties have to get together and fix it. It may well be appropriate for the Feds to take over from day one - but if that decision isn't predicated on a request from the state governor, then the whole concept of Federalism and states sovereignty will have to be dumped. And *that* represents a fundamental change in US governing principles, which should be long and hotly debated.

As I read through this - while I think NOLA screwed the pooch, they were hip-deep in water while they did it.

More and more, my jaundiced eye is looking at the Louisiana State government, especially it's Department of Homeland Security, as being damn near criminally negligent in the performance of their duties - and with the leading elements of the Federal response (to include the President) as being insufficiently sensitive to that fact.

Last, but not least... foreign aid is coming in. Click the first pic for the updated Katrina Military Response album.

The Canadians:

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HS2005-0688-01 06 Sept 2005 Departure of HMCS Athabaskan, Ville De Quebec, and Toronto. The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir William Alexander will also accompany the Canadian Navy ships. The ships departed from Halifax for the U.S. Gulf Coast for Operation UNISON, the humanitarian assistance mission being provided to the victims of hurricane Katrina.

Photographer: Pte Jodie Cavicchi, Formation Imaging Services Halifax

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HS2005-0686-02 06 Sept 2005 CFB Halifax

HMCS Athabaskan heads out of Halifax harbour accompanied by a Sea King helicopter. HMCS Toronto, along with HMCS Athabaskan, HMCS Ville De Quebec and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir William Alexander, will depart with over 1000 personnel from Joint Task Force (Atlantic) in support of Operation UNISON, which will provide humanitarian aid to the areas in the Gulf of Mexico affected by hurricane Katrina.

Please Credit: Cpl Halina Folfas, Formation Imaging Services, Halifax, NS

Alan of GenX@40 has thoughts to add regarding the Canadians...

"Ahh, the ships. I even know the exact spot the photos were taken from in my old hom town (Halifax, NS) not unironically the most ravaged by hurricane Juan in 2003 year that decimated the forest park called Point Pleasant. The park acted as a buffer saving much property and, of course, there was no flooding:

So it is not without significance that Haligonians are going."

The Germans:

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by John on Sep 09, 2005
» The Glittering Eye links with: Catching my eye: morning A through Z
» The Gantry Launchpad links with: The aftermath, and the bodyguard of lies, and no one's to blame...
» links with: Kathleen Blanco's state government to blame?
» links with: Kathleen Blanco's state government to blame?
» links with: Blanco, Barbour
» links with: Blanco, Barbour

September 08, 2005


With a Hat tip to Right Wing News...

I'm standing by my initial assessment.

President Bush took too long to be visible.

Homeland Security bobbled, but didn't fail.

The State of Louisiana and City of New Orleans... failed their citizens miserably.

After the mess is cleaned up... what will they do about it?

We know what the City is doing short-term... sending City employees on paid vacations to Las Vegas. While the Fire Department of New York volunteers and military forces cover for them.

From the NYT article linked above:

The Police
City to Offer Free Trips to Las Vegas for Officers

Published: September 5, 2005
NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 4 - A day after two police suicides and the abrupt resignations or desertions of up to 200 police officers, defiant city officials on Sunday began offering five-day vacations - and even trips to Las Vegas - to the police, firefighters and city emergency workers and their families.

The scope of the disasters were different... but FDNY took one hell of a hit - a bigger hit in terms of dead and missing - on 9/11... and their response was to work overtime.

The Big Easy, indeed.

The Snarkatron blearily looks up from her somnolent slumber, flicks out her flensing-knife fingernails, and carves off some breakfast.

by John on Sep 08, 2005
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: 'It's going to be awful'

Reporting out from the disaster area...

First, Seawitch, a fellow Project Valour-IT blogger, who lives in the devastated region:

As someone who lives in Gulfport and went through Hurricane Katrina and has been without power for 10 days, all I can say is that I amazed at the criticism going on. The Seabees in Gulfport are rebuilding our communities schools. The National Guard is handing out water, ice, MRE's. Keesler Air Force Base had damage to 30% of it's base but has sent out crews to clear roads and has diverted one of it's water towers to the city of Biloxi so it's citizens can have a potable source of water. The military all up and down the Mississippi Coast have been helping every where they can and the National Guard units are searching the rubble for any remaining dead. The Seabees had that task after Hurricane Camille hit in 1969. My Dad was one of them.

I have seen the military copter and the Coast Guard copters flying over
my house since after the storm preforming rescue missions and now
recovery missions and security.

Thank God for all those in the military who are helping us. Without
them, we would be so much worse off.

Bless all those who serve.

And this, from Sarenyon (who, btw, was commanding that Bradley FIST Vehicle in my "Goblins on the left" picture in the upper right corner). He is doing something I did in my last job on active duty... shift work in a Defence Coordinating Element, in his case, managing the DoD response in Mississippi:

Hello all, writing from the MS State EOC [Emergency Operations Center]. As I'm still stuck in the Defense Coordination Element and not out on the ground, I have to give nothing but HIGH props to my fellow service-members. They are doing a great job. Also like to recognize someone people might have overlooked... the Civil Air Patrol. These guys are flying missions, doing ground S&R [Search and Rescue] and just plain helping out for no pay. And they are doing a great job.

Interesting development, MS Gov and TAG [The Adjutant General - senior NG Officer] turned down Federal Troops patrolling in MS. So besides Medical, Air S&R, Air, and Logistics, no Title 10 Troops [Federal/Federalized] are moving around. Which frees up the Marines to help out the 82nd in N.O.

Another good thing, IMO, LTG Honore issued order that no Title 10 Forces will be used to or assist in Forced evacuations. I know they could help, but not good to set any precedents on that front.

Thanks for all the support

You're welcome, sir. You're welcome.

Thank YOU!

by John on Sep 08, 2005
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Senate Holds Hearing on Gas Price Gouging

Helping out with Katrina's aftermath.

You've given money, perhaps food and clothing (more of that stuff will be needed later, too). You are thinking you'd like to go help out down there, but you just can't. After all, you have kids, a job, all of that.

And you are right.

But, you don't *have* to go down there. Chances are, especially if you are in a larger metropolitan area, you can help - just as effectively - Right Where You Live.

I sit on the board of a large regional charity in the Kansas City area. Here is what I'm talking about... Right Here In KC - and it's true in your city, too.

Just attended a gathering of social service providers, including the City of Kansas City, FEMA, and many United Way member agencies including Catholic Charities, at the KCMO United Way offices concerning help for Evacuees. The following points seem to reflect the consensus:

Every Evacuee should register with FEMA, preferably on line-

Or call FEMA 1 800-621-FEMA (3362)

If in the Kansas City region, Evacuees should also register with the American Red Cross, 816 931 6662 x 7030 or register in person with the Red Cross at the Gregg Center at 1600 E 17th Terr KCMO

Red Cross will give vouchers for 10 days of hotel lodging.

FEMA will provide vouchers for 3 months of rent.

The city of Kansas City is working to accumulate Section 8 qualified housing. Vouchers from the Gulf Coast will be honored in the Kansas City region.

People impacted by the hurricane are reluctant to leave to come to new communities like Kansas City or St. Louis. Numbers are unclear but about "375 cases" locally have registered so far with the Red Cross, about "300 families." Some families are not in the numbers who have been accommodated by extended family, Churches and others.

To Volunteer, call
Catholic Charities (913)621-5255 x 167,
Red Cross (816) 931-6662 x 7030
Heart of America United Way (816) 474-5112

To enroll property you own in the database of local housing stock, register on line at

The Gregg Center needs greeters, gift baskets, health workers, drivers to help families get to hotels and to do shopping, Case Managers and other Volunteers.

It is too early to start receiving other donations of in-kind goods, at least locally. Eventually, food, clothing and furniture will be needed, along with employment.

Catholic Charities will help sort housing opportunities for Evacuees, but at present there are not many opportunities for home-sharing. At least 500 families in the Archdiocese are willing to share their homes as needs arise.

Catholic Charities will also provide Counseling, Nursing, Case Management, Food and clothing and furniture from TurnStyles.

Some Evacuees will have multiple needs beyond housing and employment. Home sharing will not be an appropriate alternative for some Evacuees who have additional needs.

The process could take 18 months.

Eventually families will need sponsorship in individual apartments after the FEMA funds expire, and help with utilities, jobs, transportation.

Catholic Charities, both Missouri and Kansas working together, will continue to assess local needs on a daily basis.

Please call me with questions and ideas and pass this email along.

Mark Henke
Catholic Charities, Catholic Community Services
2220 Central Ave
Kansas City KS 66102-4797

Regardless of your religious affiliation (I'm not Catholic, btw - and it doesn't matter, because Catholic Charities delivers service based on need alone) if you live in the KC area and blog - link to, or swipe the contents of this post and spread the word, please?

If you don't live in the KC area... this is also happening in your area. And as the evacuees arrive throughout the country, this scene is repeating itself over and over. And you can have a direct, material impact, and still go to work, and sleep in your own bed at night, take care of your children, and pay your bills.

At the same time - consider this - the needs that existed in your communities *before* Katrina hit, are just as valid now - which means that if you are able (and local volunteering is a way to do this) we need to go *beyond* our normal bounds, not just displace from one area to another. And if your budget has surrendered what it can... you can still give *time*.

Just like these bloggers do.

by John on Sep 08, 2005

A little digging is useful.

I got this in email yesterday, a story from NewsMax, with the email labeled, "This won't play well in Peoria." Which is true enough, on first scan:

Reprinted from

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2005 9:41 a.m. EDT

Military Reprimands Navy Rescuers

Two Navy helicopter pilots were reprimanded for their actions after Hurricane Katrina struck – they rescued more than 100 people and brought them to safety.

Lt. David Shand and Lt. Matt Udkow each piloted H-3 helicopters out of Pensacola, Fla., and were ordered to deliver emergency food, water and other supplies to Stennis Space Center in Mississippi on Tuesday, August 30, the day after Katrina made landfall. The storm had cut off electricity and water to the center. The two pilots delivered the supplies and were heading back to Pensacola when they picked up a Coast Guard transmission saying helicopters were needed in New Orleans, the New York Times reports.

So the pilots headed for the stricken city and began picking up people who were stranded on rooftops and a highway overpass and ferrying them to an airport where a makeshift medical center had been set up. They rescued 110 people in all.

But the next morning, the two pilots were called to a meeting with Cmdr. Michael Holdener, Pensacola’s air operations chief. He said their rescue effort was "an unacceptable diversion” from their mission of delivering supplies, according to the Times – even though Lt. Udkow said there was a "shocking” lack of other rescue helicopters around flooded New Orleans.

Udkow, who reportedly complained to superiors about the reprimand, was taken out of flying rotation and given a new assignment: overseeing a temporary kennel set up at Pensacola to hold pets of service members evacuated from hurricane-stricken areas.

Now, this passage is what caught my jaundiced field grade eye:

Udkow, who reportedly complained to superiors about the reprimand, was taken out of flying rotation and given a new assignment: overseeing a temporary kennel set up at Pensacola to hold pets of service members evacuated from hurricane-stricken areas.

I smelled a ratty Lieutenant, regardless of his noble motives. So, now that I actually having some 'ins' with the Wings of Gold naval aviation community, rather than just run with this, I thought I'd ask about the backstory. I asked Lex.

This is what I got.

Ah, I've pulled the thread on this one... Turns out the helo guys were reservists specifically fragged [given orders] to provide log support other helo detachments doing the SAR effort. They took it upon themselves to go off-task and do a little personal personnel recovery, I guess because it feels more noble than logistics. A questionable call, probably, but the 17-year O-3 (picture getting clearer?) probably expected to get an atta-boy from the Air Ops guy rather than a butt-chewing.

They also serve who merely bring up ammo, but not everyone remembers that. I guess the can really got kicked over when one of the lieutenants started shouting back at the O-5 (which, I don't know about the army, but that goes over like a fart in church over here) and then went to the press to talk about how he had been wronged (which goes over even worse).


If I got yelled at by a Captain, he would have lost his transmission privileges and gone into listening silence on the net. Which would not have been a silent net. I'd have been transmitting.

Orders is orders, folks - and sometimes ones that don't make sense to you in your little neck of the woods *do* make sense in the larger scheme of things. And if everybody hares off on their own, you lose control. Who knows what *didn't* happen because they were off on their own? Or if their aircraft had gone down... and they were nowhere near where they were expected to be?

My bet is, given that they *did* rescue 100+ people, if they'd taken the butt-chewing and soldiered sailored(?) on - the incident would have died there. But to get your panties in a twist and hare off to the press? I'm guessing the dogs aren't all that well cared-for right now, getting kicked a lot, and the aircraft is *not* sitting idle for lack of pilots.

And everybody looks bad. And it didn't need to be that way.

Just guessing.

Lex chatted it up, too.

by John on Sep 08, 2005
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Senate Holds Hearing on Gas Price Gouging
» Neptunus Lex links with: Sigh

September 07, 2005

More of that little window...

I'm still seeing commentary about why weren't the miltary staged on bases nearby to New Orleans and throughout the disaster area.

This is why. This is naval family housing in Gulfport, Mississippi. If you're in the zone, you're part of the disaster, not a response to it. I've updated the album of pictures of the military response. Click on the photo to visit the album.

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Eaglespeak is tracking the Navy's response. The first major surface unit has reached New Orleans.

Sean Penn's rescue efforts. He may mean well, but... well, let's just say "Leave it to the pros... or at least people who know what they're doing.

Chuck Simmin's is keeping an eye on how much is being gathered for hurricane relief... both in the US and from outside.

ROFA6 explains why he wouldn't leave New Orleans, either.

If you want to track Army relief efforts, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or the Coast Guard, just click on the service.

BTW - I, and, I suspect, most of our readers... am a Grey Sheepdog. More Bill Whittle showing why he gets paid to write.

by John on Sep 07, 2005
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Gauging the Federal Response in Louisiana
» Stop The ACLU links with: Katrina Open Trackbacks
» Red State Rant links with: Where was the military?

September 05, 2005

Heh, and here I said we weren't going to be...

...all Katrina, alla time.

Since the services are taking hits for not being there fast enough with enough (leave aside who has responsibility for what) I've been harvesting pics of military participation in the relief effort - this batch harvested from the service websites. I know - the uncharitable will say all these photos are just a Potemkin village. If that's how you feel, go be angry somewhere else, okay?

I'm just opening a little window, in a very little corner of the Internet.

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(Sept. 4, 2005) – Hurricane Katrina survivors are stacked five-high as they are medically evacuated from New Orleans to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., aboard a U.S. Air Force Reserve Command C-130 Hercules aircraft configured for medical evacuation flights. The Navy's involvement in the Hurricane Katrina humanitarian assistance operations is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the Department of Defense. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Andrea Decanini

Click the picture to visit the album.

If you've got pics of your own, or have public domain pics you'd like to share, send 'em along and I'll add 'em to the album.

I'll try to keep up on captioning, but no promises there. I do have a life outside of this space, odd as that may seem!

Even though I've taken to watermarking pics (just to track who's stealing what, and how they're using 'em) these are public domain pics, freely distributable. If you'd like one that is watermark-free, just ask.

by John on Sep 05, 2005
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: FEMA Director Singled Out by Response Critics
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol

>>hzzz. afterthought...

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>>hzzz. name muffy not be post in a while. longtime hy’umun denizens and pretty-lady denizennes know ‘bout scrup’l. maybe youngers and visitors do not.

go pretty barb-lady pless if forget or not know. pretty barb-lady first to know all ‘bout scrup’l when talk to name scout. short read. has to be -- scrup’l have short attention span...

life be tough teacher. gives test first, then lesson. hurricane test be hard on hy’umuns and lesson be painful. test be harder on others, who not know there be lesson to follow.

only know test.

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only know hy’umuns left them, did not know why. only know brother and sister and other left them, did not know why.

did not know water, too, had killing bite.

know now…

dog-thing, cat-thing be pets, not be told ‘bout evacuate. not be taken off roof by helicopter, be taken in boat.

sometimes. when there be room. small life-sparks, pulled from water.

little afterthoughts.

dog-thing, cat-thing, even horse-thing once be pets, now be lost. now be scrup’l. some hy’umuns find, bring dry pless, like same for hy’umuns. like same for hy’umuns, food dish, water bowl soon empty. hy’umuns be evacuate to ‘nother dry pless, many dry pless, where now food dish and water bowl full.

maybe scrup’l be evacuate later. maybe not.

little afterthoughts.

this be called bleg. not be ask for much because not need much. hy’umuns, help, plizz?

not be ask that hy’umuns send to help scrup’l instead of to help hy’umuns, just small extra for help scrup’l. something for keep small life-sparks alive...

plizz -- something?

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Feel free to swipe these graphics and use them yourself.

by name muffy on Sep 05, 2005
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: "Bless the beasts and the children ..."
» Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated links with: The others hurt in the hurricane
» The Gun Line links with: Woobies...
» NIF links with: Just another today

September 04, 2005

A Perfect Storm...

...that may cause the media to simply explode.

Katrina, Roberts, Rehnquist.

Oy, it's going to be ugly from now to Christmas.

Then we'll get the Katrina-victim Christmas stories. Okay, from now to February.

So, I'll console myself with this!

Finally! A realtor hawking properties worthy of the Master and Mistress of Argghhh! Some of these aren't that far away, either. Though none of them are in the current budget. May have to set up a tip jar. And before you ask - SWWBO found it and thought it was kewl!

What are the Denizens up to...

SWWBO highlights villains and heroes in New Orleans. Given how fond she is of New Orleans, being on the villain list is not good.

Barb points to NOAA's before and after pics of the areas hit by Katrina.

AFSis, while she can't go to the disaster area herself this time, is helping coordinate those who can!

Sergeant B has some questions about the Brotherhood of War.

Jack has his take on the Katrina disaster and the response thereto.

Kat points out that people and businesses - especially businesses with responsibilities for people such as nursing homes - need disaster plans, as well.

Cassandra skewers a Huffposter, and looks for the Silver Lining.

At The Glittering Eye, the Carnival of the Recipes is up! In fact, I recommend starting at the top of The Glittering Eye, and just read down until you get to the Carnival. Lots of interesting history of disasters in the US hiding in there.

MSG Keith, discusses disaster relief, from the perspective of Been There, Done That, Got the T-shirt, and wore it 'til it fell off in tatters.

Fuzzybear reminds us that current needs that existed before Katrina still exist. As a member of the Board of Directors for a large regional charity - I agree. She also retracts some earlier hot words. Kinda.

Rammer discusses the meaning of risk - and how the results of risk analysis are all around us, everyday.

Now, it *is* okay to have fun, even when surrounded by disaster. If you've done what you can, and all you have left to do is surf compulsively for Katrina-blogging... take a break and go visit Jay, who has a humor round-up!

by John on Sep 04, 2005

September 02, 2005

New Orleans, Katrina, Louisiana, the Feds.

UPDATE: For those of you who may be looking for contact info in helping to find family and friends impacted by Katrina, or if you are a refugee who wants to let people know you are okay - Dawn's Early Light has a round-up of websites and phone numbers to help you pass the information along.

UPDATE 2: Chuck Simmins is tracking the giving.

To date: Cash: $161,619,257.00

Goods and Services: $12,169,000.00

Update 3: Greyhawk lists the webpages that military people affected by the Hurricane might find useful. - contact info for military families displaced by Katrina (also a great collection of news releases on the military efforts in hurricane relief) - info for Guard families impacted by the storm. - info for getting deployed Guard members in touch with their families who might be displaced by the storm - and vice versa.

Update 4: As Alan so helpfully points out:

Hey - you have 1,000 guys from Halifax, Nova Scotia heading down there. The Canadian navy is on the way.

OK - it is a small navy...we all know it is a small navy...but at least
they carry their own beer wherever they go.

And we appreciate it Alan, eh? Alan is also a fan of Russ Honore'...

This is the original post....

I actually took today off so I could do some emailing, phone-calling, web-surfing, etc, trying to build a more coherent picture (flawed as it is) of what's going on down in Louisiana.

My thoughts on the subject are informed by the fact that I spent two years as one of those guys in the Army whose job it was to do the generic plans for incident responses (from a DoD perspective, and *ALWAYS* subordinate to FEMA - they're the Big Dog), designing and executing training events to rehearse the plans, and, now and then, implement them, though during that time there was no event ever approaching the magnitude of what's happening in Louisiana right now. But ask me about that exercise we did with Seattle that resulted in 10,000 notional dead and injured, with a concomitant breakdown in social control... my point being - we actually *do* planning (or at least did) for events of this size.

Some of the New Madrid earthquake scenarios, especially the winter ones... were visions of Apocalypse. Imagine flattening good chunks of St. Louis and Memphis - in January. And losing the bridges over the Mississipi (which means you can't barge people and equipment, either), and we don't want to even *think* about the economic impact of losing the I-70 and I-40 bridges... much less the rail bridges.

The weather makes your response focus completely different, because the shelter requirements suddenly become astounding and compelling. You're thinking tent cities in 10 degree weather become nightmares. Clothing, keeping pipes from freezing, sanitation.... I'm thinking 10,000 suddenly homeless people dumped into that weather... in the clothes they had on at the time... There's no spending the night wandering around in a daze, because you'll freeze to death before that - the looting starts 5 minutes after the shaking stops. It *has* to - because they aren't going to live through the night otherwise. But I digress. If you are going to have disasters of this magnitude, the Gulf Coast is a moderately benign place to have them, weather-wise, but I digress again.

Keeping an eye on National Review's The Corner blog, you can watch a fairly well connected group of people, who have jobs that allow/require them to keep an eye on the news, comment on what's going on.

And obviously, it doesn't look good for the people in charge. And I fault the people in charge.

John Derbyshire's arrogant ignorance kept pissing me off. Until I realized what I just said. Ignorance. Lack of knowledge. Derb isn't stupid, he's ignorant. And whose fault is that? Not his.

In order -

The Government of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, Governor. It was their job to get the ball rolling. The Federal government doesn't respond, by law, until the Governor asks them to. (If you think FEMA in their Ops Center at Weather Mountain wasn't already alerting you're wrong, but *acting* is governed by law).

The Federal Government, George W. Bush, President.

Because neither of them have got the Public Face of the Government getting out the info. Believe it or not, that, to my mind, is actually the Most Important Thing to be doing up front and early. Because the professionals will be handling the details of getting the response moving. That isn't the politicos job.

The MSM, a distant third. For being so focused on the sad and compelling stories, that they haven't been asking the right questions of the right people, and putting the heat on the public officials to give out the details.

I'll forgive the initial flounders, when something like this starts, you get huge amounts of data... most of it wrong, or at least out of context. You aren't *really* sure what's happening, and the magnitude. Yes, the Guy on the Ground does - except he really only knows what he sees... and while it's a horror in his immediate area, doesn't mean it's a horror everywhere else. Until is becomes apparent it is. But you *still* have to assimilate the data.

Crying on camera is fine - as long as it's preceded or followed by "This is what we're doing, this is how we're going about it, and this is how we're coordinating for more help." Not just being stunned. Getting.Out.The.Word. Guys like me will be getting out the Stuff.

I think the President should have called off the California gig and headed for Washington.

WTF? Donovan is saying getting talking heads out putting out info is more important than Boots on the Ground, rescuing people and delivering aid?

Yes. That's what I said.

Why? Because Controlling The Perception of The Disaster in it's early stages will help shape the form of the follow-on actions. Guys, I've worked with FEMA. They're smart people and well-organized.

BUT IT TAKES 3-5 DAYS TO GET PEOPLE IN PLACE AND FUNCTIONAL. Minimum. Not the prepositioned people in the waiting-to-be-activated DFO, Disaster Field Office... the Outside Responders.

Plus, remember - WE ALL THOUGHT THEY'D DODGED THE BULLET. For a whole day. Then the levees broke. FEMA's attention was on the area to the east, where the brunt of the storm went in.

So that's where the initial focus was. And *that* still has to be dealt with too.

So. Why don't we have tens of thousands of troops IN THERE RIGHT NOW!?!

And all the volunteer and paid relief workers?

They are on their way, they really are. And, today, they are starting to arrive. But WHY WEREN'T THEY THERE THREE DAYS AGO!?!

One. The tyranny of distance. You have to mobilize, do final pack-outs, and start driving. 500 miles a day, if you're lucky. So what? Fly! That requires aircraft, on short notice. Even if we weren't using the TRANSCOM's transport fleet to support OIF and OEF, it takes time to get crews to aircraft, aircraft to place where people need to be picked up. If you are using non-mobilized reservists/Guardsmen, they have to be mobilized - not hard, but they've got to drop what they're doing and get to the aircraft, while the ground crews have to stop what they're doing and get to the aircraft and get them ready. Then there's the problem with the local airports being flooded. So if you fly them in to Baton Rouge, say - you have to have transport to get them to New Orleans. Ships? See the Tyranny of Distance argument. The getting ships and people/supplies matched up, etc. Yet all of that is happening, and stuff is moving that way.

So what? The Army has all those troops at Fort Hood and stuff! Well, yes and no. There *is* a war on. But heavy mech forces don't wear well if you road-march them hundreds of miles - at least if you want them to be working when they get there. And they'll require fuel when they're there... which we know is a problem already. So, mech forces aren't a good choice - but to further confuse that issue, a lot of Fort Hood's gear is in transit or in theater. And mech forces don't have a lot of soft transport for troop movement. Hey, they're built for fighting wars, eh?

Okay, use light guys. They don't have that much organic transport, either.

Two. Life support. Remember, this place just got hammered. You have tens of thousands of refugees, milling around, and moving outward. This in an area which has had it's infrastructure hammered. Now you want to bring in thousands of more people. Where do they sleep? How do they get fed? Water? Toilets? Sanitation? So, in addition to having to find a way to feed clothe and house 10s of thousands of refugees on short notice in an area that is by definition under stress and possibly unable to cope - you have to *bring in* additional life support for the supporters. That takes time. And again, the tyranny of distance. FEMA keeps regional storage sites with the stuff they need - but it *still* takes time. Even more so if one of the regional storage sites is involved in the disaster. I don't know that that is the case here, I'm just pointing it out.

3. Social Control. There is an implicit assumption that local authorities will be able to maintain some level of local order. That assumption obviously wasn't valid in this case. Some of it due to the devastation, some of it due to the horror that is apparently NO politics and police. But that's kinda outside my bailiwick.

4. Add to all that, the GWOT, and the impact that's had on the Guard. There's going to be lots of room for discussion about reorganizing things in the light of dealing with this disaster, and lord knows the recriminations over that stuff have already begun! But unless you are essentially going to say that "We can never send the Guard overseas because they might possibly be needed in the US." and accept that limitation on foreign policy, that's not a useful frame for the debate. But that's a post of a different color, too.

This has rambled - but here is my bottom line as I see it this morning.

1. The response *is* massive, and it's moving about as fast as it can, in aggregate, lots of details can be quibbled. But in the main, the machinery is in motion - and it's moving about as fast as it can. And this is about as good as we can expect in many respects, I think. It's simply not possible to have everybody in the response tail stood up ready for instant deployment every time a tropical storm manifests itself.

2. The politicians have fumbled badly thus far. In the end, they will in a sense get redeemed by the people who will clean up the mess. The Professionals who are doing their job at the moment. But, to this voter, The President and the Governor have done an abysmal job in their very public duties.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it - until I change my mind because of new data or more reflection.

by John on Sep 02, 2005
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» Searchlight Crusade links with: Links and Minifeatures 09 07 Wednesday (morning)

September 01, 2005

How thin the veneer of civilization is...

...and how fragile the social contract.

SNIPER FIRE [Jonah Goldberg] CNN Reporting: Charity hospital in New Orleans is taking sniper fire. Good lord. Posted at 03:24 PM

The Guard is coming, fellas. Then you'll be playing Army with the Big Dogs. Don't make 'em send in the 82nd and Marines.

On the flip side - and I admit I'm isolated where I work - I know the government is mobilizing, and having been on the planning and execution side of that I have some idea of what is happening.

And I understand that the MSM actually *needs* to keep a sharp spotlight on the tragedies and pathos... the higher level decision makers need to feel that heat - but how about some sense of organized reportage on what *is* being done?

If it's there, I've missed it, which is possible. And I don't fault the MSM nearly as much as you might think - but the Public Face of Governance, City, State, Federal, should be shoveling out gigabytes of data, with photos and video, of what is being done where.

Is that being done? Or are we just getting (as I am from my limited internet access due to infrastructure issues directly related to Katrina and the response (i.e, the military networks are abuzz with planning and execution traffic - and several key paths are down or damaged because of the hurricane) all the horror, but not any coherent sense of what's being done?

Because I've been emailing and IM'ing with "Friends in the business" and I *know* stuff is being done... but I've gotten no sense of it from the news.

Just curious. I know some of you are probably living in front of your TV sets. Whassup?

by John on Sep 01, 2005
» NIF links with: American Red Cross
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