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Hurricane Katrina: Remembering Federal Failures\Regional Commands

Hurricane Katrina: Regional Commands

Introduction: Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in late August 2006 causing major flooding, damaging, and or completely destroying much of the infrastructures, and killing numerous people.

Thesis: U.S Northern Command was responsible during Hurricane Katrina and it failed to successfully perform their roles and responsibilities. U.S Northern Command was faced with multiple challenges due to Hurricane Katrina that affected their success to include failures with communication, the use of Military capabilities, and logistical, and evacuation failures.


Supporting Topic 1: Regional Commands

Supporting Idea 1: Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security

Supporting Idea 2: The Joint Chief Of Staff

Supporting Idea 3: U.S Northern Command

Supporting Topic 2: U.S Northern Command

Supporting Idea 1: Duties and Responsibilities

Supporting Idea 2: Sub commands under U.S Northern Command

Supporting Idea 3: Explain what they did or did not do during Katrina

Supporting Topic 3: Challenges faced due to Hurricane Katrina

Supporting Idea 1: Communication

Supporting Idea 2: Use of Military Capabilities

Supporting Idea 3: Logistical and Evacuation Failures


U.S Northern Command was responsible during Hurricane Katrina and it failed to successfully perform their roles and responsibilities. U.S Northern Command was faced with multiple challenges due to Hurricane Katrina that affected their success to include failures with communication, the use of Military capabilities, and logistical and evacuation failures. In conclusion The U.S Northern Command needs to apply their lessons learned due to Hurricane Katrina to minimize future failures when responding to national disasters.


Tkacz, S. R. (2006). In Katrina's Wake: Rethinking the Military's Role in Domestic Emergencies. William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, 15 (1), 301-334.

Regional Commands


Hurricane Katrina carried out a massive destruction in August 2006 when it struck. The affected area was the New Orleans region. As a result of the flooding, it disrupted millions of lives. The hurricane caused serious damage to key infrastructure. It cut off electricity transmission lines leaving huge areas of land without adequate electricity. It destroyed telecommunication lines hindering effective cellular communication (Jean, n.d).

There were some cases where we heard loud explosions due to the destruction of some key oil refineries installed in the area and also the destruction of the key petrol stations. The destruction of these oil refineries and the resulting explosions lead to some casualties as people lost their lives. Hospitals were filled to the brim with patients seeking treatment for injuries.

A number of people seeking blood donations escalated and the hospitals’ blood banks virtually ran out of blood. Statistics have revealed that a huge number of 100,000 people sought medical assistance putting strain on the areas’ medical facilities. The hurricane virtually displaced another 390,000 people from their homesteads. They instead sought shelters offered by several humanitarian organizations (Chris, 2015).

Throughout the whole period of the disaster, a record 1.7 million people were affected in one way or another and they sought assistance from the federal government. This disastrous occurrence brought to the fore the incompetencies of the United States Northern Command in handling the emergency a situations. It brought the whole nation to a standstill and blame ensued between the U.S Northern Command over their role in not acting very fast to prevent and alleviate disaster caused by the hurricane.

Regional Commands

Regional commands are a grouping of the United States military organization. The regional commands contain the following types of the United States military commands: The Northern Command, the Pacific command, the Cyber Command, the Southern Command, the European Command, the Indo Pacific command, the central command and the Africa command. They command the military forces, they maintain law and border across several jurisdictions in the United States and they also ensure there is peace and stability in times of conflicts, disasters and even war. They sometimes provide a first line of command in military combat during an international aggression.

The assistant secretary of homeland defense and global security is the principal assistant to the secretary of Homeland Security whom the President directly appoints. He carries out many functions including being the senior official of the federal government in charge of coordination disaster management in the country. During the hurricane Katrina, the principal assistant failed miserably because he did not coordinate the operations well, since the telephone lines were down, there was very scanty information emanating from the control areas. He was not aware of what people on the ground did in three functions of the disaster management, property protection and securing of lives. He did not communicate properly with the key personnel present in the area. These key personnel include the response teams, the people at the disaster occurrence areas and the local community.

The Joint Chief of Staff control several military operations both in the air and on land. They consist of the Chiefs of Staff of the American Army, the chief of staff of the Naval Forces, the chief of staff of the Air operations and the chiefs of staff of military normal operations and National Guard Bureau. During hurricane Katrina, these people worked tirelessly in trying to provide physical and material support to the crisis. For example, the National Guard Bureau was provided additional security. The hurricane Katrina devastated the local police force in the areas of the New Orleans hence the local police force were not able to provide the required level of security, law and order. Because the legislation provided for the formation of cross state agreements which were important in sharing personnel and resources, it was quite easy for the National Guard to step in and provide some additional level of security. These ones provided some additional assistance to the United States Northern Command in its functions.

US Northern Command

The United States Northern Command is a military regional command in the Northern part of the United States. It has a primary mandate of preserving the homeland security, supporting defense efforts and it coordinates its engagements with the other foreign powers. The Northern Command has some sub commands which include the United States Special Operations Command, the Air Forces Command, the United States Army North Command and the Joint Taskforce.

What the Northern Command did during the Hurricane Katrina.

It marshaled some forces. It evicted some people to safe grounds. In conjunction with the National Guard bureau, it was able to maintain law and order. It received some provisions from the local government and the National government. It communicated the key strategic needs which were very critical in evacuating the people and further loss of property( Jean et al, n.d).

What the Northern Command was unable to do during Hurricane Katrina.

There was a dire requirement for accurate planning with the local governments and the state officials and the Northern Command was unable to provide this planning for proper execution of their mandate (James, et al, 2006). Because the command was relatively new at the time when the government deployed it into this area to help control the hurricane, it did not deploy enough staff because it did not have the capability to do so due to resources which were limited (Chris, 2015). Bureaucratic red tape meant that at times there was confusion and disagreements on who exactly is in charge causing delays in the coordination of the overall rescue exercise( James, et al, 2006). The requests for assistance which it did sent out were not clear and addressed to a specific person. As a result, delays in providing the needed assistance occurred.

Challenges faced due to Hurricane Katrina

Some of these challenges are: the Defence response authority faced some limitations in executing their work due to some legal challenges, overall preparedness of the nation was not up to date and it was poor, there was a total communication failure to plan and execute some response plans(George Bush, White house, n.d).

Government bureaucratic plans prevented decentralization of some of the key decision making capabilities regarding the tragedy. The logistical plans of the government and evacuation efforts were poor. The United States, despite having superior military prowess, was unable to effectively combine and integrate the military capabilities to its proper use (George Bush, White house, n.d).


The United States Northern Command learnt some useful lessons from the Hurricane Katrina because it failed to effectively control the situation. They failed in communicating, integrating power of the military, and evacuating the people from the scenes of the disaster. The government must reduce the bureaucracies which during the Hurricane Katrina, they proved to be quite costly. They were not efficient and effective and the government lost a good opportunity to prove to the rest of the world that it had the capability of preventing a disaster of such magnitude. Disasters especially naturally ones can occur at any time. However, the National government has a duty through the Northern Command to strategize effectively and save lives of the people and protect the property( James, et al, 2006)


Chris, E, (2015). Hurricane Katrina: Remembering Federal Failures

Retrieved from: Accessed on 4/8/2019

George Bush, White house (n.d). Hurricane Katrina critical challenges

Retrieved from: Accessed on 4/8/2019

James, C, Jill R, (2006).State and regional responses to disasters: Solving the 72 hour problem

Retrieved from: Accessed on 4/8/2019

Jean, B, Laurent V, (n.d). Civil Military Relations in Hurricane Katrina. A case study on Crisis

Management in National Disasters.

Retrieved from: Accessed on 4/8/2019

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