Saturday, November 3, 2012

Barack Obama Fails his "Hurricane Katrina" Moment - or What They Don't Teach You in Harvard Policy Seminars

by Jonathon Moseley

George Bush as Commander in Chief supplied fuel to the troops fighting in Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, in spite of the complete absence or breakdown of all infrastructure, including electricity.  George Bush flew emergency food supplies to many places around the world, including air dropping military Meals Ready to Eat (MRE's) into Iraq and Afghanistan and other countries.

After a much milder Hurricane Sandy, Barack Obama cannot supply fuel or supplies to New Jersey, a few miles from some of the busiest ports in the world, where railroad tracks converge from around the country.  Unlike Katrina in New Orleans, Winter temperatures are dropping from a hurricane that was geographically huge but mild in strength compared with Hurricane Katrina.  

Gas shortages are crippling fire departments, police departments, ambulances, EMT's, hospitals, electrical utility repair crews, delivery trucks bringing supplies to civilians and the public in general.

The quickest way to illustrate what Barack Obama is failing to due is to recommend what the Commander in Chief (POTUS) should have done from the first moment that gas shortages were reported.  And the moment New Jersey Governor Chris Christie realized that the White House was not getting it done, Christie should have acted as follows.

If I were advising NJ Governor Chris Christie, I would even now recommend:

1)    Acting as commander in chief of the New Jersey National Guard, immediately call the Secretary of the Air Force.  Speaking as the National Guard of New Jersey, formally make the following requests.  No doubt there is a protocol for the National Guard borrowing assets as needed.  Hang the protocol.

o   use of the gigantic tanker air craft that can fly enormous loads of gasoline around the world.
o   use of ordinary cargo planes that can fly supplies around the world.
o   identification by the Air Force of the most suitable landing strip in the New York / New Jersey region.
o   immediate use of cargo aircraft to air-lift heavy cargo helicopters, including helicopters capable of moving huge fuel bladders, tanks or tanker trucks by helicopter, along with the apparatus to fill the bladders or tanks from the tanker planes. 
o   immediate use of cargo aircraft to air-lift food, bottled water, tents, blankets, and generators to the identified airport as a distribution point.
o   officially request the use of heavy-lift cargo helicopters to distribute food and bottled water from the airport to the areas hardest hit, probably using shopping mall parking lots cleared by police to land.
o   officially request the use of those heavy-lift cargo helicopters to distribute fuel from the tanker plane(s) to local gas stations with the longest lines (if landing areas nearby are possible) or at a relay point if necessary.
o    Ideal would be heavy-lift helicopters that could move fuel tanker trailers, drop the tanker trailers in open spaces in shopping mall parking lots, where the truck "tractor" can be married up with the tanker trailer for immediate delivery to nearby local gas stations.  (Note that municipalities sometimes have their own filling depot for police cars, fire trucks, etc.)
2)   Get the CEO or operations head of the major oil companies on the phone, in person, and demand to know within 2 hours what the New Jersey National Guard can do to help the oil companies supply all fuel and energy needs, backed up by other State National Guards and/or the US Air Force by borrowing their assets and the US Navy.

     Governor Christie should give the heads of the oil companies his personal cell phone number and warn them that if they hit an obstacle, his personal cell phone in his pocket had better ring or there will be hell to pay.

3)   Ask the oil companies where there are ample supplies of gasoline where an Air Force tanker can land nearby and fill up on gasoline and fly it to the New Jersey / New York area.

4)   As Governor, Christie would need to settle up for the costs of the gasoline by paying the oil companies the normal wholesale price and charging the local gas stations what they would have paid for it from the oil company, and probably giving the gas free to police stations, fire departments, EMT's, ambulances, electricity repair crews, etc.  But the transportation and delivery costs would have to be chalked up to disaster relief.

5)   People are homeless in some cases.  They are desperate, and panicking not knowing what they are going to do.  Winter is coming.  People could be without homes being rebuilt for a couple of months.  The region should have more than enough motel and hotel space, but people without power at their own homes are filling hotel and motel rooms.  But the affected area is blessed by excellent sea access.

     As Governor, Christie's staff should hand him the phone number of the heads of the cruise ship lines.  The cruise ship industry is over-built.  Most companies have older ships they are retiring and replacing.  The disaster will likely leave people not taking cruises.  Ask if an older cruise ship, perhaps one of many decommissioned, could be rushed to New York harbor to provide temporary housing for the homeless.  Getting an older cruise ship re-programmed or re-positioened and into place could take a week or longer.  But the sooner they start the sooner it will be done. 

6)    As commander in chief of the National Guard, call the Secretary of the Navy and request whatever ships can be rushed fastest to New York Harbor, followed quickly by the "small" aircraft carriers (by modern standards) known as Amphibious Assault Ships like the Kearsage.  Navy ships are capable of creating vast amounts of fresh water from sea water.   Amphibious Assault carriers have the helicopters and/or hovercraft to deliver water and supplies over a wide distance. 

      Some navy ships could provide immediate living quarters for the homeless

7)    Quite naturally, all resources both Army Corps of Engineers and private companies are needed to restore electrical power.  Certainly this is being done.  But moving around the area quickly is a problem.  The New Jersey National Guard and if necessary resources from other State National Guards or the US Air Force should fly these crews around in helicopters to be able to restore power as quickly as possible.

      Now, is there any of that which President Barack Obama could not have ordered almost a week ago, last Tuesday?   Although Obama is not prepared by policy seminars for handling such a crisis, his staff also has seriously failed.  Presidential staff who are not rookies should have handed the President action memos clipped in urgent-action file folders ready for the POTUS to simply scan and sign, to set all of this in motion last Tuesday.

Jon Moseley


  1. Air Force tanker aircraft can only carry JP-8 jet fuel. The internal tanks that supply fuel to other aircraft in flight are the same tanks that the tanker uses to feed its own engines. No gas in KC-135s or KC-10s, only JP-8. There are a few KC-135 model "T" aircraft that were designed to carry special fuel for the SR-71, in separate internal tanks, but gasoline is so different from jet fuel that it is highly unlikely that the Air Force would ever approve transporting it in their aircraft.

  2. "Air Force tanker aircraft can only carry JP-8 jet fuel." That is preposterous. Remember that the US Military supplied gasoline and diesel to the remotest regions of Afghan's mountain regions and the Iraqi desert. I thinkt hey could get gasoline and diesel to New Jersey.


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