Thousands of National Guard forces mobilized for Sandy

Members of the New Jersey National Guard are sent out to assist in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Members of the New Jersey National Guard are sent out to assist in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. U.S. Army

At least 7,400 National Guard forces were mobilized in response to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, according to a press release from the National Guard Bureau.

The National Guard was mobilized as the governors of 12 states and the mayor of the District of Columbia declared states of emergency before the storm’s onslaught. Their primary mission has been to assist local first responders and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but their role is quickly shifting to recovery efforts following the abatement of the storm.

“We had to be ready to respond big and fast -- so the National Guard ramped up in multiple states this weekend preparing to support local, state and federal civilian authorities,” Army Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said in a statement. “We are part of a whole-of-government response to support state, local and federal agencies tackling the effects of this storm.”

The National Guard said nearly 85,000 men and women were available to help civilian officials with relief efforts. The American Forces Press Service said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had appointed a series of “dual status” commanders, a special authority that allows military leaders to work more cohesively with state officials and “integrate defense support operations and capabilities effectively when governors request them.” The Defense Department also said dual status commanders were operating in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland and Rhode Island.

“Through mutual assistance agreements, Army National Guard ground and aviation task forces, from neighboring FEMA region states, are ready to meet gaps in mission command, medical, communications, logistics, transportation, engineering, civil support, maintenance, security and aviation,” Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. said in a statement.

The District of Columbia National Guard was asked to provide support in Washington through Nov. 4, according to a press release. The D.C. National Guard said it was “equipped with medium tactical trucks, Humvees and guardsmen” to help with relief efforts throughout the city.

“We are the capital guardians, and are prepared to support the district during this time of crisis,” said Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard.

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