The SDNG task force will be a logistical support package composed of a command and control element, medial platoon, maintenance platoon, transportation platoon and a support and services platoon. Soldiers and airmen from all over the state have volunteered to fill the ranks of this task force that will have the primary mission of supporting other National Guard and active duty units as they continue their disaster relief missions.
Since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the SDNG has been continuously identifying available resources within the state that would be able to provide assistance to the disaster area. Most importantly, the Guard staff has been working with the National Guard Bureau and the affected area's state National Guard leaders as they assess the damage and identify the needs they will require from outside agencies and relief organizations.
Currently, the SDNG has 11 Guard members in Louisiana at Belle Chase Naval Air Station and conducting public affairs missions. These soldiers and airmen are from the 114th Fighter Wing out of Sioux Falls, and the 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment of Rapid City. They are currently "hunkered down" in a safe, hard-stand building as Hurricane Rita hits the coastline.
"We are waiting for the storm to pass and we are all safe," said Maj. Joe Jacobson, commander of the 129th. "We will continue our mission once the storm passes. We plan to provide media support and press coverage not only for Hurricane Katrina but also to areas affected by Hurricane Rita."
A logistical support package that could be sent to the disaster area was identified in earlier emergency-planning meetings. Plans were put in place in anticipation of a request from FEMA through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. The EMAC is a national mutual aid and partnership agreement that allows state-to-state assistance during governor- or federally declared state of emergencies.
At approximately 10 a.m. (MDT), the EMAC message was received from FEMA, requesting a logistical task force from the South Dakota National Guard. This deployment will be funded with federal funds as opposed to state funds.
The SDNG has more than 3,500 soldiers and airmen available to provide emergency relief into the disaster areas. Additional relief could include equipment, personnel and expertise in areas of medical evacuation and support, additional security forces, engineer support, water purification, transportation assets, and command and control elements.
The National Guard is providing essential personnel and critical equipment to the affected states through its state emergency management agencies.
More than 38,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen are working in the affected states and continue life sustaining and re-building efforts providing water, food medicine and infrastructure support.
The National Guard has saved more than 11,130 lives � 4,200 in New Orleans alone.