Emergency Response Thoughts

The news media has been harping on the Bush Administration for a slow response. Not evacuating people sooner, the several day delay in getting supplies into the area, and in providing civil support.

My general thought is that nothing will be quick enough. The blame game is starting already, but fortunately, politicians on both sides of the aisle are trying to avoid it.

To those who say “America: Sole Superpower can’t save her cities”, I’d like to consider American responses over the years. Our strength is a dramatic industrial response, a level of scale and brutal “can do attitude” that other countries can’t think about. We start off slow, but once started are difficult to stop.

Three weeks ago, if we were stocking the level of supplies, resources and people necessary to be a quick response to a disaster of this size anywhere in the country, it would be a political nightmare as a waste of money. It would have to be a group ready to respond to a “big one” in LA or San Francisco, a megatsunami from the Canary Islands towards the eastern seaboard, or a hurricane anywhere from Texas to Florida.

In five years, we will not be willing to have that level of response either.

There’s no doubt in mind that the Iraq and Afghanistan business has affected the ability of our National Guard in response to events like this. My friend Ed in a CA helicopter guard unit told me today that 40 of the 60 helicopters in the CA Guard are in Iraq, and will probably take 4 to 8 months to be rebuilt once they return from Iraq. Also, that 20,000 out of 25,000 CA Guardsmen in the past 4 years have served in either Iraq or Afghanistan, and that there are. Additionally, most of the vehicles seen on TV are Vietnam era equipment.

I’m not going to say “pull out of Iraq to save New Orleans”. The logistics of that thinking is crazy: by the time even 10% of the American soldiers were returned to US soil, the hardest part of this crisis will be solved. And if you think this is a karma thing, the US being punished for sins against the rest of the world (take your pick, Iraq, global warming, nuclear weapons, ego), I’m sorry, but the universe doesn’t work like that. And if you think it is a divine input to cause it, I’d ask you to question that Being. “God doesn’t like you, so he sent a hurricane” should raise some questions in your own head.

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3 Responses to Emergency Response Thoughts

  1. Andy says:

    To add to this, keep in mind the sheer operational preperation and planning necessary to gather all the food and water needed for the relief efforts, to move it to a staging point accessible to planes/trucks/trains, and then to get it to points in the city which are barely accessible. I’m frankly not surprised it took as long as it did to move troops and supplies in. Though I’m sure that’s hardly a comfort for the folks still in the convention center there…

  2. bob says:

    just a sidenote:

    karma doesn’t work like that either. It affects individual souls only and only during reincarnation.

    I think.

    Sad thing is we’d be a heckuva lot more prepared to deal with such a crisis if our armies weren’t off galavanting in foreign lands, but hey, I guess that’s not in the cards. So much for us peaceniks.

  3. Bill says:

    Would we have more resources, ready to deploy? Yes, I think so. But would the response of been any different? I don’t think so.

    The big point to me is that we are heavily drawn down stateside, and it’s going to take more than a couple of years to get us back to where our military capacity was before.

    A large part of me is also disturbed by having to use military soldiers in this sort of operation. National Guard is fine, that’s why they are state based organizations. But active duty units would be an issue for me. It’s really a useless argument when people are in trouble, but it is one of those “things I worry about”

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