USA — Pentagon Prepares for Possible Oil Spill Response

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2010 — A mas­sive oil slick in the Gulf of Mex­i­co that’s head­ed toward U.S. shores is receiv­ing “top-lev­el atten­tion” with­in the Defense Depart­ment as it eval­u­ates what capa­bil­i­ties it may have to sup­port the response mis­sion, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary Geoff Mor­rell said today.

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates, Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, U.S. North­ern Com­mand, the Joint Staff and the Navy are work­ing in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the White House and Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty to deter­mine what assets are required, Mor­rell said.

“The sec­re­tary is pre­pared for us to help in any way,” Mor­rell said as he report­ed “a full-blown effort with­in this depart­ment to try to find the kinds of things that could be help­ful.”

Mor­rell pre­dict­ed that deci­sions could be made as soon as lat­er today, par­tic­u­lar­ly in light of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s announce­ment today that he had stepped up the fed­er­al response effort.

“I think it’s clear that this is a … pri­or­i­ty for the pres­i­dent and his admin­is­tra­tion,” Mor­rell told reporters. “So we’re going to work as quick­ly as pos­si­ble to get him the answers he’s look­ing for.”

After the eval­u­a­tion, the goal is to move as quick­ly as pos­si­ble to pro­vide the resources need­ed, Mor­rell said. In the mean­time, plan­ners at North­com are plan­ning for a vari­ety of pos­si­ble mis­sions.

A defense coor­di­nat­ing offi­cer and defense coor­di­nat­ing ele­ment from Northcom’s Region Six are deploy­ing to sup­port the fed­er­al on-scene com­man­der, and their coun­ter­parts in Region Four have been told to pre­pare to deploy, Jamie Gray­beal, a North­com spokesman, said.

Mean­while, the Navy is pro­vid­ing sal­vage sup­port as part of an exist­ing agree­ment with the Coast Guard, Gray­beal said.

Mor­rell empha­sized, how­ev­er, that indus­try has much of the tech­nol­o­gy and assets required to sup­port such a mis­sion. “So frankly, you want to work … hand in glove with indus­try here, because in some cas­es, they’re going to have … bet­ter assets than we would,” he said.

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