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National Guard prepares more troops for possible deployment to Harvey response

National Guard members sit in a C-17 Globemaster aircraft waiting for take off

Members of the 106th Rescue Wing, assigned to the New York Air National Guard, wait for the the 105th Airlift Wing's C-17 Globemaster to take off to support the Hurricane Harvey response on August 26, 2017.

Oregon Air National Guardsmen from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron pack food and equipment aboard a C-130 Hercules assigned to the 123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky Air National Guard, as they prepare to leave the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., Aug. 29, 2017. Approximately 17 Oregon from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron will also be joined by 3 members of the Air Force Reserve 304th Rescue Squadron, as they travel to Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, Houston, Texas. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Oregon Air National Guardsmen from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron pack food and equipment aboard a C-130 Hercules assigned to the 123rd Airlift Wing, Kentucky Air National Guard, as they prepare to leave the Portland Air National Guard Base, Ore., Aug. 29, 2017. Approximately 17 Airmen from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron will also be joined by 3 members of the Air Force Reserve's 304th Rescue Squadron, as they travel to Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, Houston, Texas. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Master Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

Air Force Senior Airman Ray-Christian Demafiles, a crew chief with the 106th Rescue Wing assigned to the New York Air National Guard, seated on top of an HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter engine cowling at Fort Hood, Texas August 28, 2017. The Pavehawk had returned from the day's mission that helped save 255 people and two dogs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Daniel H. Farrell)

Air Force Senior Airman Ray-Christian Demafiles, a crew chief with the 106th Rescue Wing assigned to the New York Air National Guard, seated on top of an HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter engine cowling at Fort Hood, Texas August 28, 2017. The Pavehawk had returned from the day's mission that helped save 255 people and two dogs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Daniel H. Farrell)

Master Sgt. Jesse Spainhour, a crew chief from the Tennessee Air Guard, pulls a pallet of equipment from the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group onto a C-17 Globemaster III at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Kentucky, Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard  photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Master Sgt. Jesse Spainhour, a crew chief from the Tennessee Air Guard, pulls a pallet of equipment from the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Contingency Response Group onto a C-17 Globemaster III at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Aug. 29, 2017 in preparation for Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Texas. More than 40 Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard are deploying to George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where they will rapidly establish airfield, aeromedical evacuation and cargo operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

ARLINGTON, Va. --

ARLINGTON, Va. - At a Pentagon news briefing Tuesday, an official announced the National Guard Bureau is working on plans that would provide an additional 20,000 to 30,000 Soldiers and Airmen in support of the ongoing Hurricane Harvey response efforts.

Air Force Maj. Gen. James C. Witham, director, NGB Joint Operations Directorate, indicated the response and recovery operations could last for weeks or months and that additional troops will be needed to relieve National Guard forces who are currently engaged in the response effort.

"I would like to emphasize that our response to this hurricane has been different to anything we've experienced before, and we expect it to be much longer in the response phase in terms of what we would normally see with a hurricane," said Witham.

Witham said Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, has instructed his staff to lean forward as much as possible in preparing plans to support response and recovery efforts. While certain states have received notification to plan for providing support, the order to actually deploy the additional troops has not yet been given.  Troops would only be deployed following a request from the Dual Status Commander in charge of operations in Texas.

National Guard Bureau officials said they are coordinating with states to alert commanders of the possible requirement for more troops and that a prudent posturing of forces will allow them to respond more quickly if and when they are called upon to do so. Officials also emphasized that the National Guard is uniquely positioned to provide support to civil authorities during natural disasters and domestic response, stating that the equipment and training they receive to fight the nation's wars makes it possible for them to rapidly respond in the homeland.