By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 27, 2012 – About 1,000 National Guardsmen and more than 300 Army Corps of Engineers personnel remain in New York and New Jersey as they continue to aid in the cleanup of Hurricane Sandy.
“Our personnel have made a significant contribution to the recovery effort,” Little said.
“Since the storm struck, the Army Corps of Engineers has installed 198 power generators in critical locations, and removed over 475 million gallons of water at 14 strategic sites — the equivalent of 720 Olympic-sized swimming pools. They’ve also removed more than 340,000 cubic yards of debris,” he said.
In addition, more than 9 million gallons of fuel and more than 6 million meals have been delivered to affected areas by the Defense Logistics Agency, Little said.
The fact that DOD can carry out such large-scale operations while simultaneously conducting operations in Afghanistan and around the world is a testament to the department’s high level of readiness and its ability to plan for a wide range of potential contingencies, he said.
“I point this out because if Congress does not enact defense authorization legislation for fiscal year 2013 in a timely fashion, it could seriously hamper our ability to plan and to operate,” Little said.
A number of adverse situations will arise if Congress fails to pass the 2013 Defense Authorization Act, he said.
“For example, important new military construction projects — including critical infrastructure upgrades — could not be initiated,” he said.
“Authorities to provide counterterrorism support to law enforcement agencies and several important counter-narcotics authorities — including support to the government of Colombia — would expire,” Little said.
For service members, bonuses and special incentive pay would end, Little said, hurting troop morale and potentially impacting recruiting and retention.
These examples explain why — beyond preventing sequestration — one of Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s highest priorities for the current Congressional session is for lawmakers to pass the defense authorization bill, he said.
“In the coming days, it is his hope that Congress comes together to help this department accomplish this mission by acting on this critical legislation,” Little said.