Katrina: Louisiana Guard Returns From Iraq

After a combat tour in Iraq, about 800 Louisiana National Guard members will be returning home to help rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Iraq tour complete, La. Guard unit returns to devastated state (Army Times)

About 2,500 Louisiana National Guard members have finished their yearlong combat mission in Iraq and are shipping home, with top priority given to about 500 soldiers most directly affected by Hurricane Katrina, the unit’s commander said Friday. The unit members are in Kuwait awaiting transport home, and “the 500 most severely effected people” are scheduled to arrive back in Louisiana by Saturday night, Sept. 10, said Brig. Gen. John Basilica Jr., commander of the 256th Brigade Combat Team with the Louisiana Army National Guard.

Basilica spoke to Pentagon reporters Friday morning Eastern time in Washington via satellite from Kuwait. He said about 800 unit members “have indicated they are interested” in taking part in disaster-relief operations along the Louisiana coast, devastated by the Aug. 29 Category 4 hurricane that destroyed New Orleans and is believed to have killed thousands. About 1,500 unit members plan to leave active duty and return to civilian life, while another 200 remain undecided, Basilica said.

“There’s certainly no negative connotation about the choice they might make about returning to their private lives,” Basilica said, noting that the unit has been on active duty 18 months, preparing for and undertaking its Iraq duties.

He said the unit is not being withdrawn from Iraq ahead of schedule because of the hurricane. “We have completed our mission,” Basilica said. “It’s not like we’re leaving early.” What has changed, he said, is that the Defense Department is placing a higher priority on finding transport aircraft for unit members, who are currently at staging bases in Kuwait, he said.

[…]

Army and defense officials have given “unprecedented support” to those unit members affected by the hurricane, Basilica said. For example, the out-processing center in Kuwait includes information about new temporary housing arrangements for those whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Katrina. In light of the length of their combat tour, unit members are being allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to remain mobilized to take part in disaster-relief missions, Basilica said.

Hell of a homecoming. It’s good to see the Army prioritizing the return of these particular soldiers, though.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. A. Patriot says:

    Nagin is a bullsh*tting, incompetent punk [adjective: Slang: Of poor quality; inferior] whose only qualifications for the job is that he’s as corrupt as the rest of the local government.

    Blanco is a bullsh*tting, incompetent punkess [adjective: Slang: Of poor quality; inferior] whose only qualifications for the job was the (D) next to her name on the ballot.

    I lived in the Gulfport/Biloxi area for four years from 2000-2004. I’m more then familiar with that whole area and New Orleans as well.

    New Orleans is a turd bowl reeking of sh*t, piss, vomit and decay. Oh… did I mention this was before the hurricane.

    The corruption of New Orleans local government and police force rivals the best (worst??) that Mexico has to offer (I lived on the Mexican border as well for 5 years).

    I am all for spending federal funds (our tax dollars) to help in the aftermath, whatever it takes. However, I don’t want one thin dime of my taxes going towards any rebuilding of that turd bowl city. Not one dime.

    Common sense says don’t build below sea level in hurricane prone areas. By the way, don’t forget to thank the French for New Orleans (and also thank them for the couple of tents and cots their donating now).

    I applaud House Speaker Dennis Hastert for having the gonads to say publicly what I and many others feel about rebuilding that turd bowl city.

    It would take many Billions of dollars, possibly 100’s of Billions to rebuild. It would surpass the Big Dig in Boston for the amount of corruption, scams, cost overruns, thievery and once again, incompetence.

    And after all that waste of money the following week could bring another Cat 4 or Cat 5 hurricane.
    I say NO!

    Give the Big Easy the Big “Final” Rest.

  2. Jonathan says:

    can’t wait…..we’re gonna have one helluva party in S. Louisiana when they get here. Nice to see the army letting those with affected families hurry home.

  3. DL says:

    You have to feel for this group as their personal lives must be pure hell. God bless them.

  4. GeorgeM says:

    I am one of the soldiers of New Orleans own Washington Artillery, part of the 256 BCT, who returned from Iraq today. I thank James and Jonathan for their sentiments on our homecoming. I would also like to thank my governor, Gov. Blanco, for taking the time in the middle of this crisis to speak at our return ceremony. In her speech she said that we together would rebuild New Orleans and make it better than ever.

    I hope everyone who reads the comments by “A. Patriot” recognizes them for what they are. I hoped to read comments about our return and the first comment is this irrelevant monologue about how New Orleans sucks. I am deeply saddened by the large number of folks in Louisiana and Mississippi who harbor such deep hatred for my home town.

    New Orleans has its problems, to be sure, but it is a city with hundreds of thousands of good Americans and hundreds of bad people. It is a city, not a symbol for whatever you hate about America.

    When we were attacked on September 11th, the nation came together in a way that few of us alive today have ever seen before. If you do not feel a similar compassion toward the unfortunate people of my beautiful and tragic home town, then there is something wrong. If you don’t feel that we share in this tragedy and should pull together to get through it, then there is something deeply wrong. Who can watch the images of thousands of American men women and children living and dying in unimaginably horrible conditions and think of nothing but disparaging remarks about the city and its leaders? Not anyone that should call themselves a Patriot.

  5. Somebody says:

    Well, many of us are ashamed by the actions of many New Orlinians. Tragedies are supposed to bring out the best in a community… you didn’t hear about all of this raping, looting, killing, and violence after the Tsunami struck. Sure, the government screwed up royally, but what does NO have to show for it in terms of actual community effort? NOTHING! Well, apart from a bunch of moaning and groaning, I’ve never read about NO residents doing anything else than acting like a bunch of animals after the hurricane.

    I have to say, of the many times I have had to *unfortunately* visit NO, my sheer disgust for it has grown. Ironically I was telling many that I know how much I hated NO after my last trip there, and then I heard about the hurricane. Knowing NO and their sub-par “community”, I knew they would be in this bad of a shape. Feh, at least the hurricane gave that filthy city a much needed rinse.

    The food sucks too by the way. Oh yeah, so do the people. Hell, everything sucks… err, I mean *sucked* about N’AWWWWLINNNSSSSS. Heh, it’s a guilty pleasure to refer to NO in the past tense.

  6. Somebody says:

    More evidence of how much scum was in New Orleans:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/06-11-2004/news/col/widdicombe/story/345034p-294601c.html

    Too bad the toxin has to move to other places now.

  7. Somebody says:

    “Who can watch the images of thousands of American men women and children living and dying in unimaginably horrible conditions and think of nothing but disparaging remarks about the city and its leaders? Not anyone that should call themselves a Patriot.”

    Not like, you know, they didn’t know it was coming. “Community planning, fah, let’s just let the gubernmint do it. We’ll just sit here WHILE A HUGE ASS HURRICANE COMES.”

    I do not feel sympathy for idiots who leave themselves in harms way when they have greater than a day’s warning. And they had what, half a week? Enough time to save themselves.

    I’m sure you have disgust for this post; I kinda do too. But NO *IS* a symbol for many things that are wrong with the US, on a personal, community, and government level. The city itself is a failure of many kinds, as was the response to the hurricane. Actually, I can’t say I would have done any better; it wasn’t me, and I should feel pity and be ashamed for posting what I have. But I know that city, and that is why I post such acidic remarks.

  8. Somebody says:

    Lord, you can’t delete posts… well, shit… sorry for spamming your board, dammit.