The U-S military -- built for man-made battles -- could end up leading fights against Mother Nature.
President Bush has raised the idea of putting the Pentagon in charge of search-and-rescue efforts for catastrophic natural disasters. That's in the wakes of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the sluggish federal response to the first.
Such a precedent-setting shift would require not only some changes in law but a greater degree of consensus.
Defense analysts echo Bush's description of the armed forces as "the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice."
But Congress is divided over the prospect of troops massed in US cities and increasing the power of the federal government at the expense of the states.
And there's the question of what would be left for the recently created Homeland Security Department to do.