When the BBC noted the criticism of the government's slow response, Lt. Commander Kelly explained that NorthCom was ready to go well in advance of Katrina making landfall, but suggested the president didn't make the right call at the right time.
"Northcom started planning before the storm even hit. We were ready when it hit Florida, because, as you remember, it hit the bottom part of Florida, and then we were planning once it was pointed towards the Gulf Coast.
"So, what we did, we activated what we call 'defense coordinating officers' to work with the states to say, 'OK, what do you think you will need?' And we set up staging bases that could be started.
"We had the USS Bataan sailing almost behind the hurricane so once the hurricane made landfall, its search and rescue helicopters could be available almost immediately So, we had things ready.
"The only caveat is: we have to wait until the president authorizes us to do so. The laws of the United States say that the military can't just act in this fashion; we have to wait for the president to give us permission."