Defense Support to Civil Authorities (or, how to apply the National Guard)

The recent militia activity in Oregon has spurred many to demand a swift response to the groups’ armed holding of a federal wildlife refuge office.  Included in the discussion has been several instances of chatter on Twitter and other social media, demanding/suggesting/requesting that the National Guard be deployed to address the situation.  Those who have mentioned this don’t appear to have any background in public safety or the military, so I’ve politely explained that the incident is occurring on federal property and that the National Guard is a state asset, which is generally not authorized to act on federal property.  Seeing how I can’t fit much more of an explanation into 140 characters, I’ve decided it is probably a good topic to blog about.

In case you aren’t familiar, I first offer an explanation of the differences between National Guard forces and United States military forces.  Broadly, here are the differences… National Guard forces are created by Title 32 of the United States Code, whereas our US Armed Forces are created by Title 10 of the United States Code.  Very often, when military and emergency management folks talk about military forces active during a domestic emergency, they will mention that they are either ‘Title 10’ or ‘Title 32’.  The primary distinction is that Title 32 National Guard forces are under the control of the Governor of that state, whereas Title 10 military forces are under control of the President.  There is also a distinction of State Active Duty, which puts the forces under command of the Governor but with limited protections and paid by the state (which is often times lower and does not contribute to their federal retirement).  Title 32 does afford some federal law provisions and protections of the Guard forces, including federal pay.

Federal military resources (Title 10) are restricted from using force domestically by way of the  Posse Comitatus Act, unless specifically authorized within a very specific set of guidelines.  While the Posse Comitatus Act does not include Title 32 forces, it is with rare occasion that National Guard forces are used in such capacity, with an emphasis often being placed on the difference between ‘security’ and ‘law enforcement’.

As with any resources which are under the direction of the state (i.e. the Governor) or a local authority (such as a sheriff or mayor), these resources are not permitted to operate on Federal property unless specifically requested.  Federal property is just that – federal property.  A great number of federal agencies have their own law enforcement in some form, typically for enforcement related to their own mission and regulations.  Federal facilities with no organic law enforcement (or those choosing or not able to use their own law enforcement capabilities for such) utilize the Federal Protective Service (FPS) for security of federal facilities, which is a component of the US Department of Homeland Security.

The Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) mission of the National Guard is vitally important to our nation’s ability to respond effectively to major emergencies.  Deployed domestically under the authority of each state’s governor and under the direction of each state’s adjutant general, National Guard forces are able to accomplish a variety of missions in support of local domestic operations.  They are effective not only as a force multiplier to augment local resources, but also bring very specific skill sets and resources in engineering, hazardous materials operations, medical operations, and other mission areas.  The key for public safety officials who are considering submitting a request for National Guard assistance to the state emergency management agency is knowing what problem you need solved and how you want to apply National Guard assets.

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Exercise operations of the 19th CBRNE Enhance Response Force Package (CERF-P), Indiana National Guard

A great training resource, especially for emergency management and public safety personnel who aren’t familiar with all the ins and outs of military resources that can be applied during a disaster, is IS-75 Military Resources in Emergency Management, provided free of charge by FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute.  I’m proud to have been an early contributor to this much-needed training course.

Interested in training in DSCA operations or in integrating them into your plans?  We are happy to help!

© 2016 – Timothy Riecker

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC

Is the Department of Defense Planning for a Zombie Attack?

No, not really.  But they are using the zombie scenario as highly effective training tool.

I reference, of course, the recent news releases (such as this one from ForeignPolicy.com) concerning the United States Strategic Command document titled: CONPLAN-8888 – Counter-Zombie Dominance (April 30, 2011).  You’ll see in the Disclaimer section of the document, beginning on the second page, that this scenario was selected because of its improbability of occurring, unlike other scenarios which may be used as the basis for training and exercises, which could be mis-perceived by the public.

The training they refer to is the Joint Operations Planning Process (JOPP).  Typically the word ‘Joint’ in military doctrine refers to activities which include two or more branches of military service. Not only do the US Military Services use joint planning and conduct joint operations, but the Army and Air National Guards do as well.  For as much as it makes sense, the concept of ‘jointness’ has really only seen large-scale attention in the last decade or so.  Having worked extensively with the National Guard in recent years, the ‘jointness’ has become the foundation of nearly all activity.  This is a great accomplishment as there is considerable competition between the branches, sometimes to the level of disdain, and certainly a great many differences, even in terminology and rank structure.  Despite the decades-long existence of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, true joint integration at an operational level rarely occurred and was generally not executed well.

Joint operations are simply a military version of the Incident Command System (ICS), where different disciplines and agencies – some often very different from each other – can function together within one organizational structure for the purpose of addressing an incident.  If you are interested in additional information on Joint Planning and Operations, I suggest you visit the DoD’s Joint Electronic Library where you can find documents which I have referenced often when working with the National Guard on preparedness and response activities – including the Universal Joint Task List (UJTL) (similar to the old DHS Universal Task List, in concept) and the Joint Publications (such as Joint Publication 5-0, Joint Operation Planning – which is the foundation for JOPP).

As mentioned in earlier posts, I love the integration of zombies and other apocalyptic lore into preparedness activities.  While tongue in cheek, they help planners and responders do away with pre-conceived notions they may have with other, more realistic scenarios.  In emergency management, we know that every incident is different.  While we learn from our experiences and hopefully apply what we learned to the new challenges we face, we sometimes go into the next incident with a bias.  The introduction of totally fictional scenarios, such as a zombie attack, help make the situation faced completely new – while many of the specific problems faced are things we do have plans for, such as mass fatalities, hazmat, contagious diseases, etc.  It’s a great approach which I strongly advocate.  The only caution we may have is that the premise of the scenario itself may cause some to not take the activity seriously or may cause a distraction.

Have you used any non-traditional or totally fictional scenarios?  What were they?  How were they received?

/s/

Tim Riecker

Dual Status Command – An Evolution of Military Engagement in Domestic Emergencies

The publication Homeland Security Today has an analysis on dual status command, and the fight that states had to preserve their right to maintain control of National Guard forces – particularly in the event of a domestic emergency.  Most people don’t even realize the difference between National Guard and ‘Regular’ Army forces, so what difference does it make?  It’s a huge difference! 

Broadly, here are the differences… National Guard forces are created by Title 32 of the United States Code, whereas our US Armed Forces are created by Title 10 of the United States Code.  Very often, when military and emergency management folks talk about military forces active during a domestic emergency, they will mention that they are either ‘Title 10’ or ‘Title 32’.  The primary distinction is that Title 32 National Guard forces are under the control of the Governor of that state, whereas Title 10 military forces are under control of the President.  There is also the distinction of State Active Duty, which puts the forces under command of the Governor but with limited protections and paid by the state (which is often times lower and does not contribute to their federal retirement).  Title 32 does afford some federal law provisions and protections of the Guard forces, including federal pay.

A soldier or airman activated in one status can not command a soldier or airman activated in another status.  This has created some problems when federalized (Title 10) troops have been deployed to a disaster area and are working directly with National Guard (Title 32) troops.  First off, much of the problem actually stems from emergency management and public safety folks who aren’t aware of the difference (even if you knew the difference between Title 10 and Title 32, you really can’t tell the difference by looking at the soldier).  So when state or local emergency managers (perhaps from an EOC), make a request for military forces who have been assigned to the area, those requests, depending on the unit, must be handled differently.  Additionally, coordination between Title 10 and Title 32 isn’t as smooth and efficient as it should be.  On the surface, it seems like a silly problem, but the legalities behind it are significant.

The solution to this confusion represents a brilliant compromise and an evolution in how military forces as a whole are led and coordinated jointly in the event of a domestic emergency – dual status command.  Under dual status command, a commanding officer (likely a general’s rank) approved by both the President and the governor of the state in question, is appointed to control all forces – Title 32 and Title 10 – assigned to a domestic emergency within a state.  At the time this concept was put forward I had significant interaction with National Guard forces and USNORTHCOM – the concept was the proverbial talk of the town, and largely all positive.  It was seen as a great step forward and an excellent compromise, maintaining the integrity and legality of both the Title 10 and Title 32 status.  The concept is trained and exercised, keeping military commanders up to date on the best ways to integrate forces, not only between federalized troops and National Guard forces, but also integration, interaction, and coordination with first responders.  The Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) mission is vitally important to our nation’s ability to respond effectively to major emergencies, and now our joint military forces have another tool to make them more effective in that mission area.

A great training resource, especially for emergency management and public safety personnel who aren’t familiar with all the ins and outs of military resources that can be applied during a disaster, is IS-75 Military Resources in Emergency Management, provided free of charge by FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute.  I’m proud to have been an early contributor to this much-needed training course.