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Hurricane Charley has forced the evacuation of U.S. Central Command headquarters staff members but will not disrupt operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a spokesman said.

The military’s top leader responsible for the area, Army Gen. John Abizaid, was able to maintain communications with key personnel overseas, in spite of being forced from the headquarters building on MacDill Air Force Base by the nearly category 3 Hurricane Charley, Lt. Cmdr. Nick Balice said.

Abizaid stayed in the Tampa Bay region Friday “in a safe location with access to all communication equipment,” Balice said. “What’s happening here in Tampa will not have any effect on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The base has been evacuated, but we have multiple locations of operations, such as the forward headquarters in Qatar that has been fully manned and operational since the war began in March [of 2003].”

Packing winds up to 145 mph, Charley, now a Category 4 storm, was slated to hit the Tampa Bay region about 8 p.m. EDT Friday. The approaching storm has prompted the evacuation of MacDill, which also serves as home to Central Command and Special Operations Command.

Balice declined to provide details about Abizaid’s whereabouts during the hurricane or the communication equipment.


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