Wednesday, August 31, 2005
An Air Force Perspective on Katrina
Hurricane Katrina's path cut right between New Orleans and Biloxi Mississippi. The death and destruction is still difficult to comprehend, as is the lawlessness and disregard for human life, but thankfully a majority of people are helping others and giving everything for their fellow man.
The United States Air Force was not immune to the destructive forces of Katrina. Whereas we train day and night to avoid terrorist attacks on our facilities and personnel, 12 hours of high winds and storm surge have dealt a blow that will take years for the Air Force to overcome.
Biloxi is home to Keesler Air Force Base, the center for a large portion of the Air Force and DoD's Enlisted technical training schools such as Meteorological, Air Traffic Control, Airfield Operations, Command and Control, Finance, Medical, Communications, and much much more. It's home to the second largest medical facility in the Air Force, Keesler's Medical Center with a staff of approximately 2,000 that trains doctors, nurses and technicians in a variety of medical specialties. As of yesterday news reports say that the Keesler Medical Center was totally destroyed.
Although all military personnel were evacuated from the region, the base employs thousands of local civilians as instructors, clerks, chefs, janitors, etc. It will take some time to see how many of the civilian employees evacuated and survived the carnage. It will take much longer to determine whether or not they will have a job to return to.
Over the next few days, weeks, and months the Air Force will devote a majority of its homeland operations to recovery and rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region. The support we will provide will be unprecedented and without prejudice. Our mission is to serve our nation, and our nation knows it can count on us.
The shockwaves of Katrina will echo throughout the Air Force and Department of Defense for some time. We will face shortages in air traffic controllers, weather personnel, communications experts, and many other highly technical fields due to a lack of facilities to train these personnel. Work-arounds will of course be found, facilities will be relocated, and training will eventually resume, but we will have to work fast to avoid future disruptions in operational support due to the lack of qualified personnel. After all, planes don't fly without ground support.
Yet through it all we will stand side by side with the millions of victims throughout the Gulf Coast region, helping them to survive this ordeal and eventually rebuild and recover. Of course things will never be the same for anyone, but we will all make it through this. After all, if there was ever a place to be during times like this that place would be the United States of America... the most giving and open-hearted nation on earth. We certainly know how to take care of our own, and the U.S. Air Force is damn good at doing just that for this nation.
posted by El Capitan at 7:39 AM
great post EC. so true, better to happen in a place like this than elsewhere. where there is a high chance of people capable of rebuilding their lives.11:19 PM
like your sun pic, btw11:28 PM