(BIVN) – In response to the ongoing eruption of Kilauea volcano on Hawai‘i Island, a Dual-Status Command, Joint Task Force 50 (JTF) has been established at the request by Governor David Ige.
The governor’s formal request to appoint Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara was submitted on Tuesday, May 15 and approved by Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis earlier today.
“I thank Secretary Mattis for his quick approval. This joint military task force will provide the necessary state and federal resources to Mayor Kim and his Civil Defense team. Together, we are committed to supporting the residents of Hawaiʻi Island in their time of need,” said Gov. Ige.
According to the state:
The formation of this JTF establishes a clear chain of command to maintain operational unity between state and federal efforts and increase efficiency. For example, Gen. Hara now has the authority to command both the National Guard and active military forces to plan for and be ready to execute those plans should roadways in Puna be lost to lava and a mass air evacuation is necessary.
Brig. Gen. Hara spoke to reporters at the Keaukaha Military Reserve on Wednesday, just outside the building the bears the name of his father, LTC Henry S Hara.
Kenneth Hara is the Deputy Adjutant General and Commander of the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard. He will oversee a joint Hawaiʻi National Guard and active duty military joint task force.
“Based on the current threat the JTF may be required for Search and Rescue, Incident Awareness and Assessment, Debris Clearance, Security, and Emergency Evacuation,” the state wrote in a media release. “A 22 personnel JTF advance team was deployed to the Keaukaha Military Reservation in Hilo, on Monday, May 14 and began planning for potential missions. Pre-staging the advance team will enable faster response to requests for military support made by Hawaiʻi County.”