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Iraq war delayed Katrina relief effort, inquiry finds


Iraq war delayed Katrina relief effort, inquiry finds
By Kim Sengupta
Published: 03 October 2005
Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed.

The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to "sneak off post" to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission.

The shortcomings in dealing with Katrina have rocked George Bush's administration. Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has resigned from his post and polls show that a majority of Americans feel the President showed inadequate leadership.

The report was commissioned by the Office of Secretary of Defence as an "independent and critical review" of what went so wrong. In a hard-hitting analysis, it says: "The US military has long planned for war on two fronts. This is as close as we have come to [that] reality since the Second World War; the results have been disastrous."

The document was compiled by Stephen Henthorne, a former professor of the US Army's War College and an adviser to the Pentagon who was a deputy-director in the Louisiana relief efforts.

It charts how "corruption and mismanagement within the New Orleans city government" had "diverted money earmarked for improving flood protection to other, more vote-getting, projects. Past mayors and governors gambled that the long-expected Big Killer hurricane would never happen. That bet was lost with Hurricane Katrina."

The report concludes that although the US military did a good job in carrying out emergency missions, there were some serious shortcomings.

The report states that Brigadier General Michael D Barbero, commander of the Joint Readiness Training Centre at Fort Polk, Louisiana, refused permission for special forces units who volunteered to join relief efforts, to do so. General Barbero also refused to release other troops.

"The same general did take in some families from Hurricane Katrina, but only military families living off the base," the report says. "He has done a similar thing for military families displaced by Hurricane Rita. However, he declined to share water with the citizens of Leesville, who are out of water, and his civil affairs staff have to sneak off post in civilian clothes to help coordinate relief efforts." The report says deployment in the Iraq war led to serious problems. "Another major factor in the delayed response to the hurricane aftermath was that the bulk of the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard was deployed in Iraq.

"Even though all the states have 'compacts' with each other, pledging to come to the aid of other states, it takes time, money and effort to activate and deploy National Guard troops from other states to fill in".

Mr Henthorne's report states: "The President has indicated several times that he wants the US military to take a more active role in disaster management and humanitarian assistance.

"There are several reasons why that will not happen easily. (1) Existing laws will not allow the police powers the military will need to be effective. (2) The military is not trained for such a mission and (3) the 'warfighter insurgency' within the US military does not want such a mission and will strongly resist it. Not one civil affairs unit was deployed for either hurricane."

The report concludes: "The one thing this disaster has demonstrated [is] the lack of coordinated, in-depth planning and training on all levels of Government, for any/all types of emergency contingencies. 9/11 was an exception because the geographical area was small and contained, but these two hurricanes have clearly demonstrated a national response weakness ... Failure to plan, and train properly has plagued US efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now that failure has come home to roost in the United States."

Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed.

The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to "sneak off post" to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission.

The shortcomings in dealing with Katrina have rocked George Bush's administration. Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has resigned from his post and polls show that a majority of Americans feel the President showed inadequate leadership.

The report was commissioned by the Office of Secretary of Defence as an "independent and critical review" of what went so wrong. In a hard-hitting analysis, it says: "The US military has long planned for war on two fronts. This is as close as we have come to [that] reality since the Second World War; the results have been disastrous."

The document was compiled by Stephen Henthorne, a former professor of the US Army's War College and an adviser to the Pentagon who was a deputy-director in the Louisiana relief efforts.

It charts how "corruption and mismanagement within the New Orleans city government" had "diverted money earmarked for improving flood protection to other, more vote-getting, projects. Past mayors and governors gambled that the long-expected Big Killer hurricane would never happen. That bet was lost with Hurricane Katrina."

The report concludes that although the US military did a good job in carrying out emergency missions, there were some serious shortcomings.

The report states that Brigadier General Michael D Barbero, commander of the Joint Readiness Training Centre at Fort Polk, Louisiana, refused permission for special forces units who volunteered to join relief efforts, to do so. General Barbero also refused to release other troops.
"The same general did take in some families from Hurricane Katrina, but only military families living off the base," the report says. "He has done a similar thing for military families displaced by Hurricane Rita. However, he declined to share water with the citizens of Leesville, who are out of water, and his civil affairs staff have to sneak off post in civilian clothes to help coordinate relief efforts." The report says deployment in the Iraq war led to serious problems. "Another major factor in the delayed response to the hurricane aftermath was that the bulk of the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard was deployed in Iraq.

"Even though all the states have 'compacts' with each other, pledging to come to the aid of other states, it takes time, money and effort to activate and deploy National Guard troops from other states to fill in".

Mr Henthorne's report states: "The President has indicated several times that he wants the US military to take a more active role in disaster management and humanitarian assistance.

"There are several reasons why that will not happen easily. (1) Existing laws will not allow the police powers the military will need to be effective. (2) The military is not trained for such a mission and (3) the 'warfighter insurgency' within the US military does not want such a mission and will strongly resist it. Not one civil affairs unit was deployed for either hurricane."

The report concludes: "The one thing this disaster has demonstrated [is] the lack of coordinated, in-depth planning and training on all levels of Government, for any/all types of emergency contingencies. 9/11 was an exception because the geographical area was small and contained, but these two hurricanes have clearly demonstrated a national response weakness ... Failure to plan, and train properly has plagued US efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and now that failure has come home to roost in the United States."
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I guess bush's choice to SCOTUS will do one heck of a job.

We already know about all the lies.

The main cause of the Katrina disaster: "corruption and mismanagement within the New Orleans city government"

"The report was commissioned by the Office of Secretary of Defence..."

Corruption and mismanagement in the New Orleans city government has been well known for decades.

The city government can be as corrupt and inept as you want it to be, but that doesn't make it the main cause of the problem. There's a reason why FEMA = FEDERAL Emergency Management Agency. Large-scale disaster management requires more resources than a local goverment can muster, even for cities like New York or Los Angeles, much less New Orleans.

And remember, the response was bad all over, not just in New Orleans. How does New Orleans corruption and mismanagement explain what happened in other states of the union?

Disaster management is federalized. End of story.

Local governments are responsible for evacuation. Most of the blame lies with city government and the state government. And, don't forget, George Bush called Gov. Blanco before Katrina hit and offered federal aid. She waited at least 24 hours and then told Bush no thanks.

A fundamental problem here is people's over reliance on "big" federal government to take care of them. The federal government is very slow to react to ANYTHING. So, FEMA may be a flawed concept.

and Metro-Dade County hardly got a pis in the wind> NO DIRECT HITS OUT OF 4 HURRICANES THAT YEAR. Hmmmmm, JEB runs Florida and his bother ran again in November 2004, and the FEMA monies to Miami were disbursed before November 2004 election... things that make you go , hmmmmmmmmm.

Someone should investigate the environmental groups that have, for many years, fought against flood control on the Mississippi River because flood control interferes with "natural flooding" and damages wildlife habitat.

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