Four Iowa Air National Guard tanker/cargo planes are now on duty in Louisiana and Texas. Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood says the aircraft and crews left Iowa early this (Friday) morning for the hurricane-ravaged region. Three KC-135 tankers from the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City have been sent to Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans to transport refugees to Kelly Air Force base near San Antonio, Texas. A fourth KC-135 tanker, which can also be used to carry people or cargo, has been sent to Biggs Army Field in El Paso, Texas, to shuttle military police personnel back to New Orleans. Hapgood says each aircraft has ten crew members on board, much larger than the usual complement. He says “Given the security situation down there, we have put extra security personnel on board and other crew members too to handle the situation.” That’s a total of 40 Iowa Guard members on this assignment. Earlier this week, the Iowa Guard offered to send up to 100 soldiers to the New Orleans area, but they haven’t left yet. Hapgood says Louisiana put out the request for certain items, under E-MAC, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. He says Iowa offered to provide some of the items, but as yet, there hasn’t been a response from Louisiana to Iowa’s offer of help. Once Louisiana says “yes,” then Louisiana is agreeing under E-MAC to pay for all of those things, the personnel and the resources. If Iowa sends them without consent, then the Iowa taxpayers would foot the bill. Plus, he says sending well-intended troops into a disaster area when they’re not requested might only further complicate issues. Those Iowa troops have been alerted for possible duty, to do everything from delivering and operating generators to driving trucks to providing medical care.
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