Defense Support to Civil Authorities: Defense Coordinating Officer/Defense Coordinating Element
What is it?
Each year the Army provides support to civil authorities as directed by the Secretary of Defense. Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) includes activities of all Department of Defense (DoD) components that provide military support to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and U.S. territories and possessions. The Department of Defense (DoD) provides federal military forces, DoD Civilians and 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. DSCA support is generally coordinated through the Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO)/Defense Coordinating Element (DCE). DCO/DCEs serve as DoD first responders to a natural or man-made disaster. The Army maintains a permanently assigned DCO/DCE in each Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) region to plan, coordinate, and integrate DSCA with local, state, tribal, and federal agencies. Each DCO/DCE has a permanent staff of seven personnel with planning and operations expertise. The DCO, as the Joint Force Commander, assumes operational or tactical control of all assigned Title 10 forces and DoD resources in the mission area.
What has the Army done?
Significant DSCA events by numbered region include the following:
- Deployed the Region I DCO and the Region X DCE to the National Interagency Fire Center, Boise, ID to support California wild-land firefighting operations (June 2008).
- Deployed the Region V and VII DCO/DCEs to support Midwest Flooding. Region V deployed to multiple locations in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. Region VII deployed to multiple locations in Iowa and Missouri (June 2008).
- Deployed the Region X and Region III DCO/DCEs in support of the National Level Exercise 2-08. Region X deployed to multiple locations in Seattle, WA. Region III deployed to the National Capital Region (April – May 2008).
- Deployed the Region II and III DCO/DCEs to support the Papal Visit to the National Capital Region and New York City. Region II deployed to multiple locations in NYC. Region III deployed to the National Capital Region (April 2008).
- Deployed Region IX Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers in support of Superbowl XLII to the State EOC in Tempe, AZ (February 2008).
- Deployed the Region IV and VI DCO/DCEs in support of Southeast Storms. Region IV deployed to the emergency operations center (EOC) in Nashville, TN. Region VI deployed to the EOC in Little Rock, AR (February 2008).
- Deployed Region III liaison officers to the National Capital Region in support of the State of the Union Address (January 2008).
- Deployed the Region II DCO/DCE to New York City, NY in support of NYC New Year’s celebrations (December 2007 – January 2008).
- Deployed the Region II DCO/DCE with augmentation and equipment to New York City to provide command and control of DoD forces in support of the U.N. General Assembly (September 2007).
- Deployed the Region VI DCO/DCE with augmentation and equipment to Baton Rouge, LA, to support potential disaster response to, and recovery from, tropical depression 10 (September 2007).
- Deployed the Region V DCO/DCE plus augmentation and equipment to Minneapolis, MN in support of disaster (bridge collapse) recovery operations (August 2007).
- Deployed a DCE plus equipment to Corpus Christi, Texas, to support disaster response and recovery for the flooding created by Tropical Storm Erin (August 2007).
- Deployed the Region II DCO plus augmentation to Puerto Rico; the Region VI DCE plus augmentation to the Regional Response Coordination Center in New York City; the regional DCO/DCE plus equipment and augmentation to the Joint Field Office in Austin, Texas; and the Region X DCO/DCE plus equipment to Baton Rouge, La., to support disaster response to, and recovery from, Hurricane Dean (August 2007).
- Region V and VIII DCO/DCEs participate in planning meetings for the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, which will be held in their respective regions summer 2008.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army will continue providing support to civil authorities through U.S. Army North when requested. In the future, the Army will identify ways to streamline support provided to civil authorities under standing rules and regulations established by the DoD. Providing timely and appropriate response to an incident remains one of the Army’s key operational concepts. The DCO/DCEs will continue to provide support as the Army’s Service component command to the U.S. Army Northern Command.
Why is this important to the Army?
The Army’s DSCA support contributes to relief efforts in the case of President-declared disasters. Supporting civil authorities enhances working relationships and mutual support between the Army and tribal, local, state, and federal agencies. The DCO/DCE is the key Army element coordinating DoD support to, and liaison with, these agencies. The Army continues to lend necessary assistance to civil authorities when requested by the DoD. The Army will remain DoD’s premiere land-based homeland defense response force. It stands ready to provide teams of highly skilled professionals, integrated and interoperable with federal, state, tribal, and local partners, for any and all actions relevant to America’s security and civil support challenges in the 21st century.