USA — Military Supports Federal Oil Spill Response

WASHINGTON, May 3, 2010 — After fly­ing over a mas­sive oil slick in the Gulf of Mex­i­co dur­ing the week­end, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, today reit­er­at­ed the Defense Department’s com­mit­ment to work hand-in-glove with oth­er U.S. agen­cies to reduce the slick’s envi­ron­men­tal impact.

“It’s a trag­ic event that we’re all focused on, and there’s an awful lot of effort on the part of the entire gov­ern­ment to mit­i­gate this as quick­ly as we pos­si­bly can,” Mullen said dur­ing a pod­cast inter­view to be post­ed on the Defense Depart­ment Web site.

Mullen not­ed the military’s sup­port role, being coor­di­nat­ed through U.S. North­ern Com­mand in sup­port of the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty, which has the lead for the fed­er­al response.

An Air Force Reserve C‑130H air­craft con­duct­ed an aer­i­al spray­ing mis­sion this week­end to help dis­perse the oil, but weath­er pre­vent­ed a sec­ond C‑130H deployed to the region from spray­ing, North­com spokesman John Cor­ne­lio told Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice.

Both air­craft are expect­ed to resume spray­ing mis­sions as the weath­er clears, and when results of tests being con­duct­ed to assess the sub­sur­face dis­per­sant activ­i­ty are com­plet­ed, Cor­ne­lio said.

The air­craft, assigned to the 910th Air­lift Wing’s 757th Air­lift Squadron at the Youngstown Air Reserve Sta­tion in Ohio, are equipped with Mod­u­lar Aer­i­al Spray Sys­tems. They can fly up to three flights a day, as need­ed to sup­port oper­a­tions, Pen­ta­gon spokesman Col. David Lapan said.

In addi­tion, near­ly 600 Louisiana Nation­al Guard troops have been called to fed­er­al active duty to sup­port the mis­sion, with up to 5,400 more to mobi­lize as need­ed, based on Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates’ approval of Louisiana Gov. Bob­by Jindal’s request last week. Jin­dal request­ed as many as 6,000 Nation­al Guard troops to add secu­ri­ty, med­ical sup­port, engi­neers, com­mu­ni­ca­tions capa­bil­i­ty and cleanup crews to the oil slick con­tain­ment effort.

The Guards­men will serve under Title 32 author­i­ty, mean­ing they’ll serve under state con­trol, but are fund­ed through the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, Lapan explained.

Mean­while, the onsite inci­dent coor­di­na­tor, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry, is review­ing sim­i­lar requests from the gov­er­nors of neigh­bor­ing Alaba­ma, Mis­sis­sip­pi and Flori­da to mobi­lize their Guard forces under Title 32 author­i­ty, Lapan said.

Mean­while, as the oil slick moves land­ward, the Navy has posi­tioned equip­ment aimed at reduc­ing the slick’s impact on Gulf Coast beach­es and crit­i­cal wet­lands. The Navy dis­patched 66,000 feet of inflat­able oil boom with anchor­ing equip­ment, along with sev­en skim­ming sys­tems and sup­port­ing gear to the region, along with 50 civil­ian con­trac­tors to oper­ate and main­tain it, report­ed Navy spokesman Lt. Myers Vasquez.

Work­ers at a stag­ing area at Naval Air Sta­tion Pen­saco­la, Fla., also set out booms to help pro­tect the shore­line and eco-sys­tem in the Pen­saco­la area from the spill, report­ed Navy Lt. Michael Frost, the station’s port oper­a­tions offi­cer.

Naval Air Sta­tion Pen­saco­la is one of sev­en stag­ing areas that have been set up from Louisiana to Flori­da to pro­tect sen­si­tive shore­lines, Frost said. Oth­er stag­ing areas are in Biloxi and Pascagoula, Miss.; Venice, Port Four­chon and Port Sul­phur, La.; and Theodore, Ala.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)