By Pauline Jelinek/The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Air Force planes will spray chemicals to help break up the Gulf Coast oil spill, Pentagon officials said Friday as they considered what more the military could do to assist.
The two C-130 Hercules cargo planes were staging for their flights at Lake Charles, La., after getting their orders Friday, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. The planes were sent from the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Ohio on Thursday.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates also was considering a request from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for the federal government to pay for 6,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen who were preparing Friday to help with security, medical needs, engineering and other tasks.
Asked if he was confident the military was doing all it could to help, Morrell said: “We are confident that we are providing what has been asked of us and what is required of us at this point.”
But he noted the situation continued to evolve as oil seeped into Louisiana’s wetlands and threatened to push deeper inland.
“This is a dynamic, changing situation,” Morrell said, and the military will help as needed.
The Navy said Thursday that it was sending booms, skimmers and contractors to of its bases in Mississippi and Florida that it is opening as staging areas.
The help was provided under existing agreements the two services have with the Coast Guard for such efforts. U.S. Northern Command has officers on the coast working with the Department of Homeland Security to figure out what more may be needed, Morrell said.