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National Guard prepares more troops for possible deployment to Harvey response

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.