Brigadier General Kenneth Hara can command active military forces for Puna emergency
The U.S. Secretary of Defense approved Governor David Ige's request Wednesday.
The military says it is now better prepared for any potential disasters that are caused by the current lava flow.
The U.S. Secretary of Defense approved Governor David Ige's request Wednesday, to appoint Brigadier General Kenneth Hara to dual status commander for the emergency in Puna. Meaning the General can now command both the National Guard and active military forces.
That means if a disaster were to happen, Hara could request resources from both State and Federal military.
The General says 133 National Guardsmen are on currently on duty in Puna. Another 1,200 soldiers are training at Pohakuloa along with nine black hawks.
Hara could request those resources or any other capabilities in Hawaii that may become needed.
The General however says air support may not be necessary.
"What's challenging for us is what is going to be the number or the population that we need to evacuate by air. As long as the roads are open and there's a voluntary evacuation, we're working with the county to see what the numbers are going to be. Unless there's something catastrophic, we may not even need the air support," Hara said.
The National Guard says it's preparing for the possibility of evacuating a thousand people from lower Puna as a worst case scenario.
General Hara is the same general that was appointed by Gov. Ige to oversee a review of the State's Emergency Management Agency following January's false missile alert.
The last time a dual status commander had been appointed in Hawaii was in 2011 for APEC.