Defense Support to Civil Authorities

What is it?  Each year, the Army provides support to civil authorities as directed by the Secretary of Defense.  Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) is formally defined in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document, the National Response Plan (NRP).  DSCA includes activities of all DoD components that provide military support to the 50 States, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and U.S. territories and possessions.  DSCA does not apply to foreign disasters covered by DoD Directive 5100.46. 

The focus of DoD support and response is assignment and allocation of DoD resources to support civilian authorities during civil emergencies arising during peace, war, or transition to war.  The law restricts use of Title 10 forces to support civil law enforcement.  DoD provides Federal military forces, DoD civilians, contract personnel, and DoD agencies and components in response to requests for assistance during domestic incidents.  These incidents include terrorist threats or attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.

What has the Army done?  Examples of DSCA support include:

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?  The Army will continue providing support to civil authorities, when requested, as well as providing displays and personnel at special events.  In the future, the Army will identify ways to streamline support provided to civil authorities under standing rules and regulations established by DoD.  One such initiative is developing a standing Catastrophic Execute Order which will cover all natural and manmade disasters.  Once published, the Army will identify organizations to provide support outlined in the order.  Providing timely and appropriate response to an incident remains one of the Army’s key operational concepts.

Why is this important to the Army?  The Army’s DSCA support contributes to relief efforts in the case of Presidential declared disasters.  Supporting civil authorities enhances working relationships and mutual support between the Army and tribal, local, state and federal agencies.  It also contributes to national security.  DoD has a long tradition of support to civil authorities, while maintaining its primary mission of fighting and winning the nation's wars.  The Army continues to lend necessary assistance to civil authorities when requested by DoD.  The Army will remain DoD’s premiere land-based Homeland Defense response force by providing highly skilled professionals who are interoperable and integrated with federal, state, tribal, and local partners.

For further information on Defense Support to Civil Authorities, the following additional papers are provided:

Defense Coordinating Officer / Defense Coordinating Element (DCO / DCE)
Establishment of U.S. Army North
Hurricane Katrina Response
Special Events for 2006