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:
- Hurricane Season Equipment Transfer. Due to unprecedented requirements for DoD support in the last three years, a Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff order was published governing routine provisions of DSCA to the DHS. In preparation for the 2006 hurricane season, HQDA continued coordination with Army Commands, Army Service Component Commands, and Direct Reporting Units to ensure appropriate response readiness in the event of an incident requiring a federal response. HQDA, in coordination with Forces Command, Army Materiel Command, the Army National Guard (ARNG), the U.S. Army Reserve Command, and US Army, Pacific developed an equipping plan which supports the Army’s response to a specified DSCA mission and provides assistance during ARNG response to a governor’s request for support.
- Southwest Border Mission (Operation Jump Start). The President authorized the Secretary of Defense to provide DoD capabilities, primarily National Guard, to support the DHS/U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Approximately 5,000 National Guardsmen currently assist the U.S. Border Patrol in this crucial Homeland Defense mission across four southwest border states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas). As of 6 December 2006, the National Guard supported apprehension of more than 24,000 illegal aliens.
- Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO) /Defense Coordinating Element (DCE). DCO/Es serve as Department of Defense first responders to a natural or manmade disaster. The Army maintains a permanently assigned DCO/E in each Federal Emergency Management Agency region to plan, coordinate, and integrate DSCA with local, state, tribal, and federal agencies. The DCO/E has a permanent staff of six personnel with planning and operations expertise. The DCO assumes operational or tactical control of all assigned Title X forces and DoD resources in the mission area. During Hurricane Katrina, DCO/DCEs deployed to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. In 2006, DCOs provided support to Hurricane Ernesto operations. A DCO/E deployed to support the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) supporting fire fighting operations in the western and northwestern parts of the United States. Committed DoD resources augmented local, tribal, state, and federal fire fighting capabilities. Deployed over 90 days in support of the NIFC, the DCO and his staff took direct command and control of all deployed Modular Airborne Firefight Systems flown by the US Air Force and ground Wildland Fire Fighting Battalions.
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