DOD personnel working with Hawaii, FEMA officials to speed relief to Maui

By Jim Garamone, DOD NewsAugust 18, 2023

WASHINGTON — Almost 700 DOD personnel and 140 Coast Guardsmen are part of the coordinated response to the Maui wildfires that killed more than 100 people and destroyed the city of Lahaina last week, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said today.

DOD personnel are conducting six approved mission assignments at FEMA's request. These include providing liaison officers and inter-island air and sea transportation for the movement of cargo, personnel, supplies and equipment.

FEMA also asked the Army for space at Schofield Barracks on Oahu for support facilities for billeting, life support and hygiene facilities for federal emergency responders, Ryder said.

Combined Joint Task Force 50 search, rescue and recovery elements conduct search operations of areas damaged by wildfires in Lahaina, Maui, Aug. 15, 2023. Members of CJTF-50 from the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard, Army active duty and Reserve are actively supporting Maui County authorities to provide immediate security, safety and well-being to those affected by the wildfires to ensure unwavering support for the community of Maui and first responders.
Combined Joint Task Force 50 search, rescue and recovery elements conduct search operations of areas damaged by wildfires in Lahaina, Maui, Aug. 15, 2023. Members of CJTF-50 from the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard, Army active duty and Reserve are actively supporting Maui County authorities to provide immediate security, safety and well-being to those affected by the wildfires to ensure unwavering support for the community of Maui and first responders.
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew A. Foster)
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Service members and DOD civilians and contractors are also providing strategic transportation of personnel and cargo. In addition, personnel are on standby for aerial fire suppression. The U.S. Army Reserve is also providing a reserve center to FEMA as an incident support base and federal staging area.

Combined Joint Task Force 50, under the command of Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Steven Logan, is now at full operational capability and "is actively synchronizing all DOD support to disaster relief operations," Ryder said.

Logan is the dual-status commander of CJTF-50 and that support consists of a variety of ongoing activities and capabilities including the Hawaii National Guard's response teams "trained in a variety of hazardous material response, providing support to search and recovery operations," Ryder said. "Additionally, Hawaii National Guard personnel continue to support local law enforcement by manning traffic control points and providing areas security in Lahaina.

Army Guardsmen are also flying two CH-47 Chinooks with fire suppression buckets. These choppers are on standby to provide added firefighting support to Maui when requested. "Of note these Army National Guard air crews have already dropped more than 189,000 gallons of water in support of firefighting efforts," Ryder said.

Hawaii Air National Guard Lt. Col. Michael Curtis of the Combined Joint Task Force 50 conducts a guard mount brief to Hawaii Army National Guard security force members in Lahaina, Maui, Aug. 15, 2023. Members of CJTF-50 from the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard, and the Army Active Duty and Reserve are actively supporting Maui county authorities to provide immediate security, safety, and well-being to those affected by the wildfires to ensure unwavering support for the community of Maui and first responders.
Hawaii Air National Guard Lt. Col. Michael Curtis of the Combined Joint Task Force 50 conducts a guard mount brief to Hawaii Army National Guard security force members in Lahaina, Maui, Aug. 15, 2023. Members of CJTF-50 from the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard, and the Army Active Duty and Reserve are actively supporting Maui county authorities to provide immediate security, safety, and well-being to those affected by the wildfires to ensure unwavering support for the community of Maui and first responders. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Sean Walker) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Army's 402nd Field Support Brigade is providing support to CJTF-50 as needed. "Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are currently managing an operational FEMA mission assignments for debris, debris removal and temporary power," the general said.

The 249th Engineer Battalion — Prime Power has deployed and continue to support power generation requirements and assessments. "This is a critical capability as FEMA moved 32 generators to Maui earlier this week, with an additional 61 generators pre-staged at Oahu," Ryder said.

The Air Force has established an emergency preparedness liaison officer on station in Oahu, while the Navy has two emergency preparedness liaison officers on station with one in Maui and one in Oahu. The Navy also has two SH-60 Seahawks and three CMV-22 Ospreys on standby to support incoming requests.

U.S. Marine Corps aircraft are also available and include MV-22 Osprey and KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft for material and personal transport as well as MQ-9 remotely piloted aircraft for aerial survey. Additionally, the Third Marine Littoral Regiment has been made available to provide manpower, engineering and water purification support as needed.

"I would be remiss if I didn't mention that our U.S. Coast Guard teammates and the Department of Homeland Security are also actively supporting this important effort," Ryder said. "They're maintaining the focus of their response on minimizing maritime environmental impact, while also remaining ready to respond to any new reports of people in the water."

DOD will continue to work closely with Hawaiian officials and FEMA to help all those affected by this disaster. "And again, we're all watching the situation in Maui with heavy hearts and our continued thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been impacted," Ryder said.

TRANSCRIPT: Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder Holds a Press Briefing