MADISON, WI (National Guard News Bureau) - "Wisconsin's outstanding National Guard is ready to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy," That’s according to Governor Scott Walker. He says, “If resources are needed, Wisconsin stands ready to deploy the National Guard for assistance."
Wisconsin Guard members have been identified to provide support, if requested, as part of a FEMA Region V ground task force. Wisconsin National Guard assets have not been requested yet, but Wisconsin has more than a dozen force packages available.
This has been done before. The Wisconsin National Guard supported relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and ice storms in North Dakota in 2009.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has agreed with governors in Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island to appoint dual status commanders - National Guard general officers authorized to command both federal forces and National Guard troops on state duty. This special authority enables dual commanders to effectively integrate defense support operations and capability requested by governors.
Brigadier General Scott Legwold, director of the Wisconsin National Guard Joint Staff, oversees domestic operations in Wisconsin such as National Guard response efforts for floods, snow storms and tornadoes. He is qualified to serve as a dual commander in Wisconsin should the need arise and understands the role dual commanders will play on the East Coast.
"No other organization has the National Guard's combination of size, skills, training and experience, placement across the nation, command and communications infrastructure, and the legal flexibility to support civil authorities at a moment's notice," Legwold said. "If needed, we can draw on that expertise to best apply active duty assets, such as personnel and equipment, after disaster strikes to save lives, ease human suffering, and help restore normalcy."
The National Guard Bureau reports that more than 61,100 National Guard troops are available to assist civilian authorities supporting relief efforts in the impacted regions. Among the assets the National Guard can bring to the effort are nearly 140 helicopters for search and rescue, reconnaissance, and personnel/cargo transport missions.
General Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said the National Guard - as the nation's first military responder - is closely monitoring Hurricane Sandy and coordinating with federal, state, and local partners in a cooperative effort to save lives, protect property, and support recovery efforts.
"Units across the National Guard are making the necessary preparations to respond to the needs of any states affected by Hurricane Sandy," Grass said. "Rest assured the National Guard is poised and ready to provide proven responders and capabilities."
Wisconsin Emergency Management is also monitoring Hurricane Sandy. Gale warnings are in effect along Lake Michigan as a result of the hurricane. Waves of 10 to 15 feet are expected along the coast Tuesday. In addition, WEM is in contact with state and local agencies to assess resources in the event any assistance is needed from other states during the response and recovery of the hurricane.
(Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill of the National Guard Bureau contributed to this report.)