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It Would Take a Catastrophe: Speaking to reporters in Washington Wednesday, Paul McHale, point man for DOD’s Homeland Defense, said Joint Task Force Katrina soon will be down to 250 personnel from the 22,000 military personnel that were deployed at its peak. He said the mission “is now approaching what we believe to be a successful conclusion.” McHale acknowledged that the Pentagon’s Katrina relief operation suffered from lack of communication with first responders and other “situational awareness” problems—all of which is part of a comprehensive after-action review. Commenting on the notion being espoused by Adm. Timothy Keating, head of US Northern Command, that NORTHCOM should develop a standing rapid reaction force for disaster relief, McHale said it would make sense if a disaster reaches the “catastrophic” level, which actually leaves out most hurricanes. The process for shaping that kind of response, and the definition of the DOD role, is under review right now, he said.