The Pentagon put Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Stephen Logan in charge of a multi-pronged military response to the deadly Maui wildfires, synchronizing Guard and active duty troops as they ferry supplies, put out any new fires, or do anything else federal emergency responders ask.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the people of Hawaii and the community there,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said during a Tuesday press briefing, explaining the sweeping deployment in response to the state’s request for aid. At least 99 people have been confirmed killed, according to the AP, caught by fires that tore across the island after breaking out on Aug. 8.
Approximately 258 Hawaii Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel are working on the Maui mission, Singh said, while U.S. Army Pacific troops are carrying out several tasks for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including air and sea lift of cargo, aerial fire suppression as needed and setting up supply staging areas on Maui and Oahu.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently managing two operational FEMA mission assignments for debris removal and temporary power, Singh said. A mix of active duty, civilians and contractors are deployed to the scene, with others providing virtual, off-site support.
In total approximately 140 Coast Guard service members are currently assisting with response efforts in Maui, Singh said. Crews from Marine Aerial Refueler Squadron 153 flew active duty service members from Oahu to Maui earlier this week to establish a command-and-control element that will coordinate further U.S. military support, the AP reported. Numbers of active duty forces in the fast-moving response have been hard to come by.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media