Key leaders meet at domestic preparedness workshop to discuss providing civil support
February 29, 2012
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Sharing a stage at the 2012 Domestic Preparedness Workshop, the commander of U. S. Army North's parent command, U.S. Northern Command, along with the chief of the National Guard Bureau, emphasized partnerships Feb. 22 as he discussed the importance of a whole-of-government, whole-of-community approach when providing civil support while responding to disasters.
"No one person or agency can do this alone. It takes a team to meet the deservedly high expectations of our citizens," said Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., commander of both USNORTHCOM and North American Aerospace Defense Command, as he spoke with a joint audience that included representatives from USNORTHCOM, the National Guard Bureau, Army North, fellow other military components, National Guard state leaders, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and numerous other organizations.
"In an era of austerity, teaming is more important than ever," he said. "NORAD and USNORTHCOM have no more important DoD teammates than the National Guard. On the civil support side, all of us in this room are about supporting communities, and that is where our Guard members live."
Army North units showcase that teamwork in a variety of ways, including the training and evaluation of the guard's 57 Civil Support Teams, 17 Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Packages and their 10 Homeland Response Forces, each of which are part of the nation's tiered response to a CBRN disaster. As an incident evolves, the first military units are usually from the state's National Guard and, as the need for additional response resources are needed, the other units arrive as quickly as possible to augment local communities' capabilities.
Adequate response to domestic disasters involves teamwork among multiple federal, state and local agencies in support of civil authorities, Jacoby said. Robust command, control, communication and collaboration also are essential. The right equipment, training and preparation are crucial, he added, noting that he and other senior leaders live daily with the knowledge that any moment could bring news of a no-notice catastrophe requiring a coordinated, rapid response.
"This is especially true with respect to no-notice events such as a major earthquake. Response then is completely a function of preparedness," Jacoby said.
The fiscally constrained environment means military responders must work smarter, Jacoby said.
"You know the Department of Defense is going to get a little bit smaller, right?" he asked. "We also know the threats to the homeland -- especially in defense support of civil authorities -- will not (get smaller)."
Fiscal constraints notwithstanding, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said there will be no hollow force on his watch, Jacoby said. "When it comes to domestic preparedness for Title 10 units, the National Guard and Reserve, avoiding a hollow force in the homeland especially means sustaining realistic training, properly scaled exercises for our big domestic missions as well as the necessary force structure to get the job done.
The National Guard's community base is why Jacoby said he is a big fan of the Dual-Status Commander Program. The dual-status commander concept allows joint task force commanders responding to a domestic disaster to simultaneously command federal troops and state National Guard forces in multiple duty statuses. Jacoby called the concept possibly the most important initiative taken in the area of Defense support of civil authorities in a decade.
"It harnesses DoD support in a unified way and connects it intimately to the needs and power of our communities," Jacoby said. "I am very proud that, given our first opportunity during Hurricane Irene, the memorandum of agreement signatures from governors began to flow quickly as Irene approached and four governors -- North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island and New Hampshire -- requested designation of an actual dual-status commander for Hurricane Irene, which Secretary Panetta approved quickly."
That, coupled with the rapid deployment of Army North's Task Force 51, provided the command and control structure allowing the right DoD capabilities to get to the right communities at the right time.
At least one dual-status commander has been trained for every state, territory and the District of Columbia, and many have more than one, Jacoby said.
"Dual-status commanders are the keynote for the unification of military efforts," McKinley said. "Dual-status commanders provide a much-needed organizational structure for management of large National Guard and federal force packages supporting state and local authorities."
The annual workshop ran from Feb. 22-24.