"Writ large, the army is going to Louisiana, and the marine corps is going to Mississippi," Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of U.S. Northern Command, told the press Monday, the Herald Sun of Melbourne, Australia reported. -- More than 50,000 service personnel are now in the area, as major naval vessels also began to arrive offshore. -- Bloomberg News put the number at 57,000. -- Scotland on Sunday said: "Military experts said last night that regular soldiers -- let alone elite assault troops -- had never before been used to quell disorder in the United States." -- (Tim Smith of Pierce County, however, writes: "Scotland on Sunday is wrong. The regular army has been used multiple times within the borders to quell disturbances (Civil War, PRR Train strike in Pittsburgh, PA, Chicago riots, San Francisco earthquake, L.A. Rodney King riots, Washington, D.C. against WWI veterans. As for elite troops, Delta Force and Dev Grp Six were employed against the branch Davidians in Waco.") ...
50,000 TROOOPS NOW IN 'KATRINA ZONE'
Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia)
September 6, 2005
The number of U.S. military forces in storm-ravaged Gulf Coast states has swelled to more than 50,000 as ground troops and naval vessels continued to stream into Louisiana and Mississippi, military officials said.
"I think we're going to be there a relatively long time. I see it in months, and not weeks," said Admiral Timothy Keating, commander of the U.S. Northern Command.
Admiral Keating said there were now 13,000 active duty military personnel and 38,000 National Guards members in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, the three states hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.
The army, meanwhile, said more than 2800 troops from the Louisiana National Guard's 256 Brigade Combat Team are returning from Iraq this week to Fort Polk, Louisiana. They were sent home early to deal with family emergencies.
The aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman began operating in Gulf waters south of Mississippi; and the helicopter carrier USS Iwo Jima was expected at pierside in New Orleans, he said.
Admiral Keating said that the USS Comfort, a hospital ship, was in Mayport, Florida taking on additional medical supplies and was expected in New Orleans on Thursday.
The USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship that has been on the scene since shortly after the hurricane, was ready to accept patients at its hospital, the command said.
Two navy supply ships, the USNS Altair and USNS Pollux, also arrived with water and fuel for relief operations, the command said.
Over 300 military helicopters are involved in the relief efforts, he said.
Ground forces from active duty units continued to build up over the weekend with the arrival of troops from the 82nd Airborne Division from North Carolina, the 1st Cavalry Division from Texas, and Marines from Marine Expeditionary Forces in California and North Carolina.
"Coming about this time tomorrow that force will number about 7200-7500 soldiers and marines who will be on the ground assisting the national guard with search and rescue and humanitarian assistance," Admiral Keating said.
"Writ large, the army is going to Louisiana, and the marine corps is going to Mississippi," he said.
The active duty troops are being assigned disaster relief work, while National Guard troops are being used to help beleaguered police enforce the law in New Orleans.
Under an 1876 law called Posse Comitatus, federal military forces are barred from engaging in domestic law enforcement.
Admiral Keating, who spoke to reporters here via phone from his headquarters in Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, said those numbers were likely to swell as commanders order in additional support units.
But the force now being assembled is leveling off, he said.
Admiral Keating toured the disaster zone on Monday with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"The damage that I saw yesterday recommends to me that we will be there for a while," he said.
He said the challenges will shift as flood waters go down, from search and rescue to restoring power and protecting against fire in an area where many homes are made of wood.
In Mississippi, he said the military is providing bandwith to cell phone companies to enable them to restore service to the civilian population.
NEW ORLEANS GETS 57,000 TROOPS; THOUSANDS FEARED DEAD
By Bill Arthur
September 5, 2005
As many as 57,000 troops poured into the New Orleans region to restore order and rescue victims stranded a week after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.
About 150 helicopters and 300 boats picked up more than 10,000 people, Colonel Pete Schneider of the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said in an interview. The evacuation has moved about 75,000 people to shelters in Louisiana and 35,000 to places in Texas, he said.
Storm damage and flooding from the worst natural disaster in U.S. history was compounded by acts of murder, looting, arson, and rape. Government officials are trying to find and identify the dead, and prevent disease caused by fetid, standing water, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said.
The death toll "is in the thousands," Leavitt told Cable News Network yesterday. Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 29, shuttering oil fields and refineries and leaving a $100 billion trail of destruction, according to Risk Management Solutions Inc., an insurance-industry consultant.
Rescue efforts were still being hampered by roving bands of criminals. New Orleans police shot eight people who fired at some Army Corps of Engineers contractors on a bridge, killing six suspects, Deputy Police Chief W.J. Riley said.
At American Red Cross headquarters in Washington yesterday, President George W. Bush appealed for volunteers.
"I know much of the country is focused on New Orleans, Louisiana, but parishes outside of New Orleans have been ruined," Bush said. "Up and down the coast of Mississippi, communities have been destroyed. So we need more manpower."
Many Americans said the government's response to the crisis was inadequate, a poll showed.
Forty-four percent of adults surveyed by ABC News and the Washington Post said Bush deserves "a great" or "a good" amount of blame for the government's response, and 33 percent said the president deserves "some" blame. Only 22 percent said Bush deserves no blame for the federal response. The poll of 501 adults had a margin of error of four points.
Bush has defended his handling of relief efforts. He said the devastated area was larger than Britain, and on Sept. 2 signed a $10.5 billion relief funding bill for victims of Katrina.
An estimated 70 nations, from Azerbaijan to Venezuela, have offered cash contributions to the Red Cross totaling more than $100 million, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. Many countries also have donated supplies ranging from helicopters to emergency rations.
Americans responded with massive donations. By noon yesterday, contributions totaled at least $404 million, "a pace that is unprecedented in recent American history," the Chronicle of Philanthropy said.
"There's still a significant amount of the city under water," said Colonel Richard Wagenaar, New Orleans district commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As many as 300 personnel are trying to get the biggest pumping station in the city working, which could take three days, he said.
The hurricane devastated energy production in the Gulf of Mexico, source of about one-third of the oil consumed in the U.S. and about one-fifth of the natural gas. As of Sept. 3, 79 percent of the region's crude-oil production was out of action, while 58 percent of gas production was shut, the Minerals Management Service in Washington said.
Crude prices fell for a second day in London after the International Energy Agency said Sept. 2 it will release oil from stockpiles for the next 30 days. Brent crude for October delivery fell as much as $1.31 a barrel, or 2 percent, to $64.75 a barrel in electronic trading.
An Entergy Corp. crew of 9,400 by last night had restored power to about half of the utility's 1.1 million customers in Louisiana and Mississippi who were without electricity.
An additional 7,000 active U.S. military personnel were deployed to the area, along with an additional 10,000 National Guardsmen. As many as 40,000 guard members will be on Katrina duty, according to Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, head of the National Guard Bureau.
Bush ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff until Sept. 20 in honor of the victims.
Rice rejected accusations by some blacks that the federal government's slow response was motivated by racism. "Nobody, especially the president, would have left people unattended on the basis of race," she told reporters on her plane yesterday.
Katrina, the 11th named storm of the six-month hurricane season that ends Nov. 30, will cause more than $100 billion in total economic losses, according to Risk Management. Standard & Poor's said insured damage may be $50 billion, the most of any hurricane. Andrew in 1992 cost as much as $43 billion.
Lloyd's of London said a Gulf of Mexico hurricane of Katrina's size would lead to losses of $60 billion, with $10 billion in offshore energy and $50 billion in mainland property.
BUSH PANICS AND SENDS IN THE MARINES
By Richard Gray, Jacqui Goddard (New Orleans), and Alex Massie (Washington)
A panicked George Bush yesterday ordered elite troops on to the streets of New Orleans in an unprecedented attempt to stop violence in the disaster-struck city spiralling out of control.
The deployment, nearly a week after Hurricane Katrina struck, will see 7,000 marines and airborne troops sent to the emergency zone, where they are expected to crack down on the gun-toting gangs terrorising survivors.
Despite a blitz of TV appearances, Bush faces mounting criticism for failing to act fast enough to avert the crisis affecting millions on the Gulf Coast.
Thousands of National Guardsmen have failed to regain control of New Orleans. Fires continue to belch smoke over the city and sporadic gunfire echoes through the flooded streets.
Military experts said last night that regular soldiers -- let alone elite assault troops -- had never before been used to quell disorder in the United States.
As the president announced the military operation, long-awaited packages of food, water and medicines finally started to reach the stranded hurricane victims in New Orleans. A crowd of nearly 20,000 stood outside the city's convention center as camouflage-green supply trucks rolled through axle-deep floodwaters.
But as thousands of the hurricane victims struggled to escape from the horror inside the city, violence escalated.
Looters and armed gangs roamed the streets robbing and raping victims as they struggled to recover from the disaster. Thick black smoke blanketed the city from oil fires left to burn in a place which lacks the manpower to put them out.
Addressing the nation in a live broadcast from the White House Rose Garden, Bush said the priority for the troops was to regain control.
"The enormity of the task requires more resources," he said, promising to return to the region tomorrow. "In America we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need.
"Our priorities are clear. We will complete the evacuation as quickly and safely as possible. We will not let criminals prey on the vulnerable, and we will not allow bureaucracy to get in the way of saving lives.
"The main priority is to restore and maintain law and order and assist in recover and evacuation efforts." Bush announced active duty troops from the 82nd Airborne, the 1st Calvary, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and the 2nd Marine Expeditionary force would arrive in the affected areas within the next 24 to 72 hours.
The decision to send in regular forces came after the president met with defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff.
But the deployment will place even greater strain on an army already struggling to meet its commitments in Iraq and other world troublespots.
There are currently 4,000 members of the Louisiana National Guard and no fewer than 12,000 guardsmen from neighbouring Mississippi serving in Iraq.
Military expert Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies, said: "Regular and elite forces are basically barred from operating inside a state without the authority of that state.
"They have never had the ability to use their weapons in any state without the express consent of the state. It goes right back to the constitution."
Meanwhile, Bush pledged the city of New Orleans would be rebuilt. He said: "I know that those of you who have been hit hard by Katrina are suffering. Many are angry and desperate for help.
"Where our response is not working, we will make it right. Where our response is working, we will duplicate it.
"We have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters all along the Gulf Coast, and we will not rest until we get this right, and the job is done."
He added: "This week we have all been humbled by the awesome powers of Mother Nature. It is hard to imagine a bright future. But when you talk to the proud folks in the area, you see a spirit that cannot be broken."
Although the president said he would return to the Gulf Coast tomorrow, his initial response was deemed tardy and inadequate by many observers.
When he first spoke to the nation on Wednesday, his speech was heavily criticized.
Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and an influential conservative columnist, asked poignantly: "Does he know in his gut that the existence of looting, chaos, and disease in a great American city, or cities, is a terrible blow that may have deep implications?"
Former House Speaker and would-be Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was one of several Republicans to criticize the administration. He says the disaster "puts into question all of the Homeland Security and Northern Command planning for the last four years."
New Orleans Police Chief Edwin Compass broke down as he called for more boats to help him deploy his men around the city to protect its remaining residents.
He said: "We have individuals who are getting raped and getting beaten. Tourists are walking in that direction and they are getting preyed upon."
With violence hampering relief efforts, the evacuation of the 30,000 refugees from the Superdome stadium also stalled yesterday, leaving nearly 5,000 still inside.
As the refugees waited in 90-degree heat, some passed out and were carried to a makeshift medical ward at a nearby shopping mall.