Pentagon boosts troop numbers in Puerto Rico

In this Sept. 24, 2017, photo, National Guard Soldiers arrive at Barrio Obrero in Santurce to distribute water and food among those affected by the passage of Hurricane Maria, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Federal aid is racing to stem a growing humanitarian crisis in towns left without fresh water, fuel, electricity or phone service by the hurricane. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon is greatly increasing the active-duty military forces being sent in to help relief efforts in Puerto Rico, growing from about 2,500 now to possibly double that number in the next several days.

John Cornelio, spokesman at U.S. Northern Command, says an Army brigadier general will take over the military response. It will include additional medical facilities, satellite communications equipment and a civil affairs unit from Fort Bragg, N.C., that will be used to help communicate with the residents on the island. The unit will use loudspeakers, trucks, leaflets and text messaging to get needed information to the public.

The hospital ship USNS Comfort is expected to leave Baltimore by Saturday, and it will take three to five days to reach Puerto Rico.

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