At a press conference held on Tuesday, Air Force Maj. Gen. James C. Witham told the public that the Department of Defense plans to provide whatever capabilities the people of Texas need to survive and recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.
Witham, who serves as the director of domestic operations for the National Guard Bureau and deputy director of the Air National Guard, told the media that the current priority in the region around Houston is to save lives, followed by saving and protecting property. According to his figures, there will be 4,000 activated National Guard troops working in the rescue and recovery effort by Wednesday, with as many as 12,000 total Texas Guardsman standing by for deployment into hard hit areas, and “20,000 to 30,000 additional soldiers and airmen that could be used, if Texas asked for them.”
The governor of Texas has requested an [Army National Guard] military police battalion and Air National Guard security forces to assist local, state and federal law enforcement, specifically in the heavily flooded areas,” Witham said. “That big metropolitan area around Houston is where we think most of that assistance will be required.”
There are already Guard representatives from seven other states assisting in communities ranging from Corpus Christi to Houston, including: 13 airmen with the 176th Rescue Wing out of Alaska, about 90 airmen with the 129th Rescue Wing from California, a C-130 Hercules transport plane with eight airmen from the 103rd Airlift Wing in Connecticut, nearly 100 airmen with the 920th Rescue Wing out of Florida, 20 airmen with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron out of Kentucky, more than 100 airmen, a C-130, three HH-60 Pave Hawk search-and-rescue helicopters and two C-17 transport jets with the 106th Rescue Wing from New York, and 15 members of the 125th Special Tactics Squadron out of Oregon whose missions include “rescue as well as restoring airfields so supplies can be flown in.”