It’s about time officials who actually know what went wrong start to speak out.
The deployment of thousands of National Guard troops from Mississippi and Louisiana in Iraq when Hurricane Katrina struck hindered those states’ initial storm response, military and civilian officials said Friday.
Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said that “arguably” a day or so of response time was lost due to the absence of the Mississippi National Guard’s 155th Infantry Brigade and Louisiana’s 256th Infantry Brigade, each with thousands of troops in Iraq.
Blum said that to replace those units’ command and control equipment, he dispatched personnel from Guard division headquarters from Kansas and Minnesota shortly after the storm struck.
Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., whose waterfront home here was washed away in the storm, told reporters that the absence of the deployed Mississippi Guard units made it harder for local officials to coordinate their initial response.
“What you lost was a lot of local knowledge,” Taylor said, as well as equipment that could have been used in recovery operations.
“The best equipment went with them, for obvious reasons,” especially communications equipment, he added.