Puerto Rico Update: The Anti-Trumpers Refuted by Willy B


I noticed that some of the commentary that followed my posting of Sept. 30 on the Puerto Rico situation went way off topic, while a few comments that were on topic were just baloney. Perhaps they were inspired by the bias against Trump that has dominated much of the news media from the day his election was confirmed and the opportunism of some political figures who have never accepted his election. The real military effort, dogged as it is by real difficulties that often stem from disasters, nevertheless continues. At least two refutations of the misinformation, by individuals who know of which they speak, have emerged in recent days to set the record straight.

I. The Refutations

    “It’s picture perfect devastation. The hurricane came through the middle of the island. 100% of the island is without power. As a Puerto Rican it troubles me to hear the misinformation about the crux of the issue.” This was Colonel Michael A. Valle, US Air Force, Commander, 101st Air and Space Operations Group, and Director of the Joint Air Component Coordination Element, 1st Air Force and native of Puerto Rico, speaking as both a military professional deeply involved in coordinating the military relief effort and as someone with family and a deep personal stake in what's happening on the island, speaking to the Huffington Post on Friday.“It’s just not true,” Col. Valle says of the major disconnect today between the perception of a lack of response from Washington verses what is really going on on the ground. “I have family here. My parents’ home is here. My uncles, aunts, cousins, are all here. As a Puerto Rican, I can tell you that the problem has nothing to do with the U.S. military, FEMA, or the DoD.”
    Valle goes on to point out that the problem isn't getting relief supplies to the island, but getting them distributed. This is because of the lack of truck drivers. The truck drivers aren't going to work because they're dealing with the same conditions as everyone else. " They can’t get to work, the infrastructure is destroyed, they can’t get fuel themselves, and they can’t call us for help because there’s no communication. The will of the people of Puerto Rico is off the charts. The truck drivers have families to take care of, many of them have no food or water. They have to take care of their family’s needs before they go off to work, and once they do go, they can’t call home,” explains Col. Valle.
    "Yes, people are in need of food and water and medical supplies and power; I personally know the people here and they are very grateful for what we are doing. I’m passionate and I’m proud of the response. We did the same response for Hurricane Irma in Florida as for Puerto Rico with Maria,” Col Valle says. “As a Puerto Rican, what happens here for the people is personal to me. To say that we are not providing all of the help and resources needed is just not true. Distribution is the key, and we are working day and night on it. I’m here, my own family is here, I know how hard this is. We need to keep doing what we are doing. It’s going to take the resource of time.”
    Another refutation comes from retired Navy Capt. Jerry Hendrix, a man with a resume as long as my arm filled with professional qualifications and academic credentials, including expertise in disaster response, who now runs the Navy's history center. He argues that the criticism of Trump is not justified at all. "First of all, there was a fair amount of anticipatory action that is not being recognized," he told Bloomberg News in a Sept. 30 interview. "Amphibious ships including the light amphibious carriers Kearsarge and Wasp and the amphibious landing ship dock Oak Hill were at sea and dispatched to Puerto Rico ahead of the hurricane’s impact." The fact that these ships are designed to send and support Marines in operations ashore also makes them excellent platforms for supporting disaster relief operations.
    The USNS Comfort, while sporting a huge medical capability, lacks the ability to operate landing craft and has only limited helicopter capability, so it has to be pier side to be most effective. The ship was designed to support large military operations and it take times to prepare it to go to sea. he stressed that it is not an "emergency response" ship. "Given that there was no certainty where the hurricane would hit, it doesn’t make sense to have readied her prior to its impact," Hendrix said.
    FEMA director Brock Long told Fox News yesterday that he simply doesn't have time for all of the noise. “The problem is information is being misrepresented across the board,” Long told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. “I don’t have time for that. What he have time for is being laser focused on helping the people of Puerto Rico. … You should come down here. You should see what’s up.” Long acknowledged the difficulties, saying, “Every day we have progress. Every day we have setbacks. … Do we have a long way to go? Absolutely.”

II. The Current Updates

    Sixteen more helicopters from Fort Bliss will be delivered today and tomorrow to Puerto Rico, according to yesterday's Pentagon update. The USNS Comfort is expected to arrive in San Juan on Wednesday. FEMA reports assessments of 64 of 69 hospitals complete; 59 are partially or fully operational. Seven-hundred-fourteen of 1,100 retail gas stations have reopened and Forty-nine percent of grocery and big box stores are open. Eleven percent of Puerto Rico has cell service. LTG Buchanan led a DoD assessment on Saturday and has the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command integrated with FEMA in development of an area-wide concept of operations focused on sustainment and commodities distribution. The second and third of the five force packages I described yesterday have arrived, providing command and control and logistical capabilities. The fourth package seems to be the 16 helicopters from Fort Bliss, while the fifth package will provide more robust medical capacity.
    An emailed Pentagon update, this morning, reports that Buchanan approved operational plans for logistics and health support last night and is re-positioning capabilities to execute these plans. The logistics concept includes establishment of additional distribution centers to get commodities closer to the municipalities, increasing distribution nodes from 11 to at least 25. The medical support concept will integrate DoD medical support capabilities, including the USNS COMFORT, two additional Role III med/surgical capabilities, and two Role II med/surgical capabilities with HHS capabilities in a regional support model to alleviate strain on local hospitals.
    U.S. Northern Command reported, yesterday, that it had 11 flights scheduled to transport approximately 310,000 meals, 150,000 liters of water, generators, tarps, additional sustainment units, and leading components of aviation command and control.
    Gov. Rossello, during yesterday's press conference in San Juan, continued to praise the federal response. The distribution of food and water is a testament to the cooperation between commonwealth and federal capabilities, Rossello said. “It is critical that we can establish what the needs are, what the expectations are and that we can guarantee that the food and water are being delivered to the people of Puerto Rico,” he said. There are still communities where the roads are blocked by landslides or where roads were washed out, he said. “One of the main efforts that the DoD will take on is making sure that we can air supply food and water to those communities while we establish direct connection through the roads,” Rossello said.








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19 Responses to Puerto Rico Update: The Anti-Trumpers Refuted by Willy B

  1. Laura says:

    Great post…here is another link that might shed some light. Light not heat!

  2. b says:

    One factor in the discussion:
    The media totally neglected Puerto Rico when the hurricane hit and in the days of the immediate aftermath. It only started jumping up and down after it became a political issue.
    The Google search data and headline analysis has astonishing results:
    “The media really did pay less attention to Puerto Rico.”
    Behind that is probably some feeling within the news services that Puerto Rico is a minor colony that does not much ink or screen-space.

  3. Walrus says:

    It is perfectly understandable that a defence response takes time to ramp up, as it no doubt will.
    The general advice I’ve heard for personal disaster planning is to have AT LEAST seven days supplies for your family because that is how long it will take for a competent Government disaster response to begin to respond.
    We are going into fire season in a few months and that is how we plan.

  4. Macgupta123 says:

    That was a particularly bad fivethirtyeight.com article.
    Weigh the news coverage of the hurricane by the fraction of the US population at risk from the hurricane. With Harvey and Irma it was about 6%; with Maria it is around 1.5%.
    About Trump, you are on the wrong side of history, just as the Confederacy was.

  5. LeeG says:

    Seems to me when the factors in a bottleneck are identified , lack of truck drivers, there would be a statement descriibimg a solution and the other factors: ” we now have one hundred Army truck drivers on the roads in addition to one hundred local drivers but the fuel infrastructure can only handle about 120 right now. The major highway has X washouts that will take a week to months to repair and the side roads can’t handle anything larger than light trucks”
    General statements about what the US has sent doesn’t describe what is actually happening on the ground.

  6. Valissa says:

    The Weather Channel was all over the Puerto Rico story, with lots of storm footage. Especially meteorologist Paul Goodloe who politely ranted quite a bit about the disastrous effects of the hurricane on PR and the problems associated with getting relief and supplies (in a practical, non-political fashion).
    Over in Germany you may not be aware of how incredibly popular The Weather Channel is here in the US. In addition to giving weather forecasts, this channel is the major source of hurricane and tornado news, or any natural disaster that’s weather related.
    In general, TWC (The Weather Channel) is not considered part of the MSM because it’s focus is on weather and meteorology.

  7. Willy B says:

    This is from the Pentagon update sent out by email, this morning:
    “DLA’s fuel capability arrived in Puerto Rico, including DLA personnel and 125 contract drivers for 114 fuel trucks. A DLA Rapid Deployment Team (5 personnel) will deploy tomorrow to support logistics command and control.” Both governor Rosello and LTG Buchanan, in their public statements, are stressing the condition of the road system, pointing out that the interior of the island is where the problems are most challenging.

  8. Mark Logan says:

    The obvious short term solution to the road and truck situation are JPADs and C-130s. Seems highly likely someone has already thought of this. We thought of it for the Yazidis and the military is already deeply involved.
    Best (WA)guesses: It’s already happened or all available JPADs are still that region.

  9. LeeG says:

    Good to hear. It sure would be nice to have a president who could articulate details like that as opposed to validating approval and defending against criticism.
    “I think it’s now acknowledged what a great job we’ve done, and people are looking at that, and in Texas and in Florida, we get an A-plus,” Trump said. “And I’ll tell you what, I think we’ve done just as good in Puerto Rico, and it’s actually a much tougher situation. But now the roads are cleared, communications is starting to come back. We need their truck drivers to start driving trucks.”
    “Whether it’s [Cruz] or anybody else, they’re all starting to say it,” Trump added. “I appreciate very much the governor [Ricardo Rosselló] and his comments. He has said we have done an incredible job, and that’s the truth.”

  10. Tyler says:

    I understand you want Trump to be a partisan punching bag while ignoring the avalanche of lies pouring out of the Left, but thankfully that’s not how Trump works. Maybe tell your side to stop lying nonstop to score a quick serotonin rush?

  11. LeeG says:

    Of course Trump isn’t a straw man of your creation. He is exactly what he is without anyone defining him, he defines himself with his words and actions. Trump’s ” truthful hyperbole” far exceeds any propaganda by the “Left” in debasing public discourse with lies.
    Look at his performance in Puerto Rico, no one has to lie to hear what he said. Off script he can’t discuss any topic, even natural disasters, without turning them into a self-stroking show of his unique skills. The “Left” or “Right” isn’t doing that, it’s all DoNald.
    Hopefully the weather in Puerto Rico cooperates as search and rescue continues and medical care is available for those providing aid and those reconstructing their homes.

  12. Tim B. says:

    This article is 100% dependent on the rosy picture presented by US government officials. FEMA and US military officers toeing the official government line falls under the heading of “public relations” not “news.” I’ve seen such public relations efforts since the Vietnam War and frankly, I find them to not be credible.
    The fact that the author tries use the Trump-antiTrump divide in an attempt to make this government public relations effort seem more credible to Trump supporters is also concerning. It’s a great propaganda technique, but it really tells us nothing about conditions in Puerto Rico.
    I’ll close with this. No one is saying that the US government’s response was timely or adequate. Not even the government. Our own eyes tell us that much, much more needs to be done.

  13. Tyler says:

    Trump is doing much better in the corrupt island of PR, and we both know this.
    Get out of your bubble, stop crying about Trump’s mean words, and letting late night comedians tell you what to think.

  14. Tyler says:

    Tim B,
    “I don’t like the metrics presented so Ill make up imaginary ones!”
    Got it.

  15. Mark Logan says:

    I really think we have trained our press to behave this way. Trump isn’t getting a completely fair shake but then again this is the price he pays for being an asshole. Looks to me he expected the response to be automatic from the existing machine, and a heck of a lot was. Saw Mattis the other night proudly talking about his pre-deployments to PR, and rightly he should, he got what he had available there. It was insufficient but what wouldn’t be? I see Trump’s main problem is nobody trusts him and for good reasons.
    As far as the press goes, we all recall the tedious rushes we all got from birth certs, teleprompters and narcissism for eight years of Obama, right? It got ratings so we trained them to act this way. Perhaps I’m going a little too Pogo here but not much. Whining about it is good though, this crap should not be normalized. We should not go quietly into that night. I support Willy in this.

  16. Tim B. says:

    When a government public relations press release says “Northern Command reported, yesterday, that is had 11 flights scheduled to transport 310,000 meals, 150,000 liters of water, generators, tarps, additional sustainment units and leading components of avation command and control,” all it means is an airman wrote that into a computer. The term “flights scheduled” is meaningless bullshit. It doesn’t say when they are going to arrive. It doesn’t mean they have already arrived. They could arrive on Christman for all anyone knows. There is no date certain. That is an intentional. That claim isn’t a “metric,” it’s bull shit public relations designed to obscure reality.
    Moreover, there are over 2.5 million people in Puerto Rico. 310,000 meals means 12% of the population will eventually get one meal. Sorry, but there is zero real evidence that the needed help is even coming, never mind that it has arrived.

  17. LeeG says:

    He tosses paper towel rolls like no other. Everyone says he’s doing a great job, just listen to him.

  18. Tyler says:

    Tim B,
    As someone who was standing by to go there, and knows people who are there as part of rescue effort, they seem to know that things are getting better.
    But hey bro! Claim “fog of war” if you must so you can go on with your outrage seratonin rush! Don’t let me stop you!

  19. Tyler says:

    Nah, gonna listen to the people who are there as part of the rescue. You keep wetting yourself tho.

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