General Honore

I think that Gen. Honore said something very important recently in his press conference. The only way to have had a more rapid federal response would have been to have emergency assets in the path of the Hurricane, where they could have gotten destroyed before being deployed. The usual drill is to have states and localities keep things under control for a few days until more help can arrive. They so proudly call themselves “first responders.” The fact that so many national guard and federal troops have arrived less than a week later is commendable and a better response than one could have expected.

I was shocked to learn Bush had to direct Gov. Blanco to order the mandatory evacuation on Sunday and that she failed to mobilize the Louisiana National Guard until a few days before the Hurricane hit, even after declaring a "disaster area." The Guard's presence, chiefly a state responsibility, could have and should have occurred earlier, while FEMA and military supplies and air assets could have come to the location from areas outside of the storm path. I think Katrina was bound to be a major mess--security-wise and otherwise--regardless. New Orleans had 1,500 police in a city of half a million. It had one of the highest crime rates in the nation. With 100,000 people left behind and many policemen abandoning their posts, this was a true recipe for mayhem.

In the face of this emerged General Honore. He is an impressive guy. He has great bearing and command presence in an arena full of excuse-makers, whiners, demagogues, and people that are simply overwhelmed. His toughness stands in sharp-contrast to the whining and finger-pointing of the New Orleans mayor. Honore understands the mission better than most. His forces are not in Fallujah and he directed his troops to keep their guns slung when they're among the people they're supposed to be helping. This is an important way to build trust and avoid traumatizing the true victims of Katrina. In press conferences, Honore explains the situation without passing the buck. And he seems to have a forward looking sense and a natural pragmatism. In short, he's a good leader which is exactly what New Orleans needs right now.

Posted by at September 6, 2005 4:12 PM | TrackBack (1)