Lt. Gen. Robert Clark

Lt. Gen. Robert Clark ()

ARLINGTON, Va. — The commander of 5th Army based in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is on tap to be designated as the head of a joint task force for Hurricane Rita recovery efforts, a spokesman for U.S. Northern Command said Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Robert Clark is not yet the official head of the task force because the task force itself has yet to be created, said NORTHCOM’s Michael Kucharek.

“We have received a be-prepared order from NORTHCOM,” said 5th Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jane Creighton.

“We are one of the major commands to receive that be-prepared order and we are doing our planning to be prepared for an order from NORTHCOM to set up a JTF.”

As head of the task force, Clark would command all active duty troops sent to the hurricane region, said Kucharek.

It is unknown what role active duty troops would play in recovery efforts, Kucharek said. That depends on what Hurricane Rita does, he said.

Also in question is whether Clark will command both active duty and National Guard troops, Kucharek said.

The task force’s composition will depend on what the affected states can do for themselves after the hurricane hits, he said.

Also Wednesday, Kucharek said NORTHCOM has sent a Defense Coordinating Officer to Austin and to Fort Hood, Texas, 20 helicopters — 12 heavy-lift, six medium-lift and two medevac, he said.

NORTHCOM plans to send in five communications teams to link federal, state and local officials after the hurricane hits, Kucharek said.

Communications posed a challenge to Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts when the storm destroyed infrastructure.

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