News & Opinion | August 30, 2017 10:03 am

Up to 30,000 National Guard Troops Are Prepared to Assist in Texas With Harvey

Pentagon officials said National Guard assets are at full readiness.

Hurricane Harvey
Rising flood waters stranded hundreds of residents of Twin Oaks Village in Clodine, where a collection of small boat owners, including some with pool toys, coordinated to bring most to dry ground, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Clodine, Texas. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Pentagon officials said that National Guard assets are at full readiness to assist in Texas during the disaster wrought by Tropical Storm Harvey.

Major General James C. Witham, director of domestic operations for the National Guard, told Pentagon reporters that up to 30,000 guardsmen could be called upon to help out in rescue efforts on the ground, reports The Los Angeles Times. A U.S. naval amphibious assault is also prepared.

Currently, there are 30 National Guard helicopters flying in Texas to support relief efforts surrounding the hurricane and subsequent tropical storm. Twenty-four more helicopters have been requested, reports The Los Angeles Times

Witham also said that request could increase to 100 helicopters in the days ahead. The Guard is preparing for a sustained, phased response, which is a departure from what they have done in the past.

“This will be a long-term effort,” Witham said, according to The Los Angeles Times. “When the Guard responds to hurricane-type events, normally we talk about that first 72 to 96 hours for the life-saving and life-sustainment that takes place. Then, we’re into the recovery effort.”

But because of the nature of this storm — how is spun across southwest Texas for days and dumped historic levels of rainfall — the Guard’s response has been different. The Guard has alerted thousands of forces across the nation for possible deployment. Whitman said the Guard has already sent elite special operations para-rescuers from California and New York to aid the efforts, writes The Los Angeles Times. 

Meanwhile, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott has ordered the entire Texas National Guard — about 12,000 troops — to assist those affected by the storm. Only about 3,500 Texas guardsmen are currently involved though, which has raised questions as to whether U.S. commanders in Washington “had identified a bigger demand than Texas officials were willing to request” writes The Los Angeles Times. 

Whitham said the Pentagon expects “more forces will be requested,” reports The Los Angeles Times, and that “Texas has been given everything that they’ve asked for.”

The California Air National Guard from the 129th Rescue Wing in Mountain View had deployed about 90 guardsmen on Monday night, including para-rescuers, a search-and-rescue unit and transport aircraft.

“This is their wheelhouse,” said Capt. Will Martin, a California National Guard spokesman, according to The Los Angeles Times. “They carry out over-water rescue throughout the year and they have been in Texas before.”