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The efforts undertaken by civilian and military organizations in response to Hurricane Katrina were historically unprecedented, but problems did arise in the military response that contributed to delays in accomplishing evacuations and relief operations across the storm-ravaged areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, particularly New Orleans. A number of steps can be taken to enhance future military disaster-response efforts: give the National Guard the federal mission to conduct homeland security activities; make each National Guard unit capable of rapid deployment; prepare governors to call up Guard units to state active duty for out-of-state emergencies; and design a regional approach in the National Guard through the creation of ten National Guard standing homeland security task forces. Designating National Guard and active-duty units for homeland security in the Army’s unit-readiness planning process also deserves consideration, as does an approach to command and control structure that prepares decision makers to quickly select from a set of predefined alternatives giving the lead to federal or state task forces depending on the characteristics of the emergency.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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