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On a Hot Roof in New Orleans: Can DOD Airborne Assets Efficiently Deploy and Effectively Conduct Time-Critical Search and Rescue within the Bounds of Current Federal Processes and Construct of an Ad Hoc Joint Task Force?

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Research paper

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Immediate response is one of the most fundamental and critically important principles of search and rescue SAR doctrine. The window of time that offers victims the best chance of survival after an accident or disaster is generally measured in hours and not days. Although the U.S. National Guard NG, U.S. Coast Guard USCGDepartment of Homeland Security DHS, Department of the Interior DOI, and Department of Defense DoD air assets successfully rescued and evacuated more than 34,000 residents within the first 10 days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29th, 2005, there is compelling evidence that the government did not efficiently and effectively bring the full potential of Americas domestic SAR capability to bear. This paper analyzes federal plans and processes that directly impact the swiftness of the DoDs domestic SAR response to a natural disaster. Moreover, it explains some potential limitations and interoperability shortcomings of DoDs current domestic disaster response structure that could adversely impact the effectiveness of immediate SAR efforts. In short, can Title 10 airborne SAR assets be on-scene quicker and conduct SAR better within the construct of an ad hoc joint task force Since the scope of the Katrina catastrophe was unprecedented, this disaster will represent an illustrative example from which lessons can be gleaned and applied to future large-scale tragedies or national emergencies where DoD support would be anticipated. The focus of the paper is on the DoDs ability to rapidly deploy airborne assets and adequately execute SAR, and does not specifically address the additional complexities of effectively integrating adjacent SAR mission sets led by other governmental agencies. Finally, the paper will recommend the creation of an additional standing joint task force to provide the attention, comprehension, and solutions to the complexities that accompany time-critical search and rescue operations of similar scope.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Escape, Rescue and Survival
  • Command, Control and Communications Systems

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