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Press Release
September 23, 2005
Oregon National Guard assumes command of Task Force Rita
With more than 1,400 Oregon citizen-soldiers and airmen in Louisiana, the Oregon National Guard is leading the response for relief operations for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Joint Task Force Ponchartrain, Previously Task Force Oregon has been renamed as Task Force Rita. As Oregon's Guard members performed superbly in their initial mission in support of Hurricane Katrina Relief Operations, they have been requested to remain in place and assume command of additional National Guard assets from several other states to provide relief operations for Hurricane Rita. They now also come under the command of Brigadier General Douglas A. Pritt, commander of Oregon's 41st Brigade Combat Team. Pritt is a resident of Salem, Ore.
The mission of JTF-Rita is to conduct support operations to local civilian authorities within designated areas of operations and provide humanitarian assistance and security to residents of the areas most affected by Hurricane Rita.
Oregon now leads thousands of soldiers and airmen from several states across broad functional areas to include: Oregon's two infantry battalions and other support assets from Oregon have now been been joined by an aviation task force; 1st Battalion, 1/249th Military Police Battalion from Louisiana; the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Pennsylvania; and five engineering battalions, four from Louisiana and one from Missouri.
The situation is changing from day to day, hour to hour as Hurricane Rita bears down on Texas and southwest Louisiana; water began flowing over the levees in New Orleans earlier today. JTF-Rita has positioned its forces throughout Louisiana for an immediate life saving response and to quickly clear damage that might obstruct the relief effort all along the coastline.
From the outset of the recent disaster, the National Guard has provided more than 40,000 troops to support the relief effort.
Oregon citizen-soldiers and airmen began deploying to Louisiana on Sept. 2 and have been working at the heart of the devastation in New Orleans for more than three weeks.
Oregon soldiers and airmen have performed superbly in the aftermath of the tempest, and their efforts have been well recognized by the governor of Louisiana.
The 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Battalion, headquartered in Ashland, Ore, has been designated as the Quick Response Force and will respond to immediate need situations from their location near in Opelousas, LA as directed.
The main body of the troops have been repositioned to Alexandria and will be missioned out as needed following the passing of the Hurricane. The Task Force Command post has been established in Baton Rouge.
Despite the dramatic changes to the current situation brought on by Hurricane Rita, Oregon still plans to return home by Oct. 6. In coordination with the National Guard Bureau, other states are preparing their soldiers and airmen to support the relief effort as well. The intent is to allow Oregon soldiers to return to jobs, schools, and families while other states assume greater responsibilities.
Kay Fristad
Public Affairs
Oregon National Guard
cell 503-931-5179
Capt. Michael Braibish
cell 503-932-5805