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By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

American Forces Press Service

Pentagon leaders continue to monitor Defense Department-provided support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and states impacted by Hurricane Sandy as National Guard members assist local officials, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Oct. 31.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and the department’s military and civilian senior leadership team are “focused like a laser beam on DOD support to FEMA and the states,” Little told Pentagon reporters. “As you know, that is our role in a situation like this.”

Little said the secretary received another update from senior civilian and military officials on the current situation in affected areas.

Participants in this briefing, he said, included Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, and Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander of U.S. Transportation Command.

Army Maj. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, deputy commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter also attended the update, Little said.

“[Panetta] is now at FEMA with the president and will provide the president with the latest update on DoD support activities with respect to Sandy,” Little added.

The press secretary praised National Guard members providing support to various states and to local agencies in impact areas.

“I really can’t say enough about the outstanding response of the Guard throughout the 13 states impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” Little said. “We have nearly 12,000 [Guardsmen and –women] providing critical life sustaining and logistical support throughout the Northeast.”

Little offered examples of this “critical” support: in New Jersey, he said, Guard members are helping New Jersey State Police and local fire departments with rescues and evacuations, debris removal and aerial damage assessments.

“The thoughts and prayers of everyone in this department are with all those who’ve been impacted by this devastating storm,” Little said.