When the Military Does Battle With Nature: Op-Ed by Dean Stavridis in Time


Dean Stavridis The Fletcher School

Although we just watched two enormous hurricanes rip through Texas and Florida, it is worth remembering that Mother Nature can easily surpass the biggest conventional weapons in our arsenal, unleashing destruction over vast areas. Fortunately, we have a force capable of responding to such disasters in the U.S. military. As I often said when I led disaster-relief efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean, "We are very good at launching missiles, but we can launch angels as well."

In terms of Hurricane Harvey, many of the immediate responders by land were from the Texas National Guard and by sea from the Navy and Coast Guard, which rescued thousands by air and small boat. All told, more than 23,000 military personnel were involved.

While responses to Hurricane Irma are still under way, the Navy has already deployed a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Thousands of sailors and Marines have joined the Coast Guard as Florida National Guard and Army troops engage across the state and the Caribbean. Some estimates say this effort alone may surpass that to Hurricane Katrina.

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