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Protecting Military Assets during an Impending Hurricane

By Wes O’Donnell
Managing Editor, In Military, InCyberDefense and In Space News. Veteran, U.S. Army & U.S. Air Force.

When I was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, it was always interesting to watch the Air Force scramble to respond to frequent tornado warnings in Tornado Alley.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.

Occasionally, meteorologists would predict that conditions would be ideal for a tornado outbreak up to 24 hours in advance. However, the tornadoes were often unpredictable. In cases with almost no warning, all the Air Force could do was tie down the aircraft and hope for the best.

As Air Force maintainers, we often joked with gallows humor that a tornado would come and sweep away all of our aircraft, leaving us with ample free time and a break from work.

Fortunately, that never happened. But what does the military do when they have advanced warning of a natural disaster like a hurricane similar to Dorian?

They Evacuate People and Other Military Assets

As of this writing, Hurricane Dorian is still churning away off the coast of Florida as a Category 2 storm, with sustained winds of 110 mph.

At Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, the 45th Space Wing ordered a limited evacuation of all non-essential personnel.

At Naval Station Mayport, Florida, the U.S. 4th Fleet ordered all ships to make for safe areas in the Atlantic. The USS Shamal (PC 13), USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), USS Farragut (DDG 99), USS Billings (LCS 15) and USS Milwaukee (LCS 15) are already underway.

Naval Air Station Jacksonville also evacuated all nonessential personnel and flew aircraft to locations in the interior of the country. In 2018, Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael that completely devastated the base. This year, Tyndall issued a fact sheet to provide helpful information for airmen ordered to evacuate.

U.S. Army soldiers at Fort Stewart, Georgia have also been ordered to evacuate; married servicemembers were told to follow the guidance of state and local evacuation officials. Single soldiers were ordered to evacuate to Fort Gordon via bus or their own vehicles.

Moody Air Force Base in Georgia ordered 16 A-10 Warthog jets and their maintainers to Little Rock, Arkansas.

South Carolina Military Installations Also Taking Precautions

As Dorian now takes aim at the Carolinas, multiple military installations in South Carolina have begun moving assets away from the danger. Two of the Marine Corps’ coastal South Carolina installations, the Parris Island recruit depot and the Beaufort air station, have been ordered to evacuate.

Shaw Air Force Base and Joint Base Charleston, both in South Carolina have limited evacuations in effect.

The Path of Hurricane Dorian Is Unpredictable

Hurricane Dorian continues to confound meteorologists as forecasters struggle to predict where the storm will make landfall after its devastation of the Bahamas. The area that the storm could potentially hit makes up no less than four U.S. states.

With such a wide area, millions of people could be affected. For its part, the military is taking no chances protecting ships, aircraft and most importantly, personnel from Dorian’s life-threatening conditions.

Keep it dialed in to and follow @AMUdisastercrew on Twitter for the latest Dorian updates.

Wes O'Donnell

Wes O’Donnell is an Army and Air Force veteran and writer covering military and tech topics. As a sought-after professional speaker, Wes has presented at U.S. Air Force Academy, Fortune 500 companies, and TEDx, covering trending topics from data visualization to leadership and veterans’ advocacy. As a filmmaker, he directed the award-winning short film, “Memorial Day.”

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