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To all Department of Defense personnel:

As Hurricane Irene churns in the waters of the Atlantic, I wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you who could be impacted by this storm to take all necessary precautions.

One of the best ways people can prepare for an event like this is to use the checklists provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the web site.

I can't say it strongly enough. I want all military and civilian members of this Department to ensure they are prepared for Hurricane Irene. You also need to know how to stay connected to your commands, organizations or military services after the storm passes. Accountability of personnel is extremely important.

I also want you to know that as those of you along the East Coast are making personal preparations this Department is already working closely with FEMA to provide support to the American public.

I directed U.S. Northern Command to provide support as identified by FEMA in light of the projected path of the storm. Fort Bragg, N.C.; Joint Base McGuire - Dix - Lakehurst, N.J.; and Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. have all been designated as a FEMA Incident Support Base (ISB). As such, we have already prepositioned 225 non-DoD trucks loaded with equipment, food, water, and generators at Bragg. Supplies and equipment are in the process of being moved to the other ISBs now.

For all of you who are away from home as the storm approaches, as Secretary of Defense, you have my word that I will do everything possible to take care of your families who might be in the path of the storm. Whether you are forward deployed around the globe or getting valuable ships and aircraft out of harm's way, I understand the concerns that you have about your loved ones. And while your spouses and families are some of the strongest and most resilient people I have had the privilege to meet, I want you to know that they won't be alone in the wake of the storm. I have directed the service chiefs to ensure that all of the appropriate organizations are poised and ready to proactively provide needed support.

I thank you for your service.

Leon E. Panetta

Secretary of Defense

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