ARLINGTON, Va. (6/29/12) -- A National Guard dual-status commander has been
appointed to support wildfire response and relief efforts in Colorado.

Air Force Col. Peter J. Byrne -- director of the joint staff, Joint Force
Headquarters-Colorado -- was selected by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in
agreement with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the Colorado National
Guard reported.

"The dual-status commander will coordinate military firefighting efforts in
the state," Hickenlooper said. "This commander operates as the liaison to
make sure that we can take federal assets and Airmen, Soldiers, bulldozers,
helicopters, Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems aircraft and get whatever
tool we need."

Byrne, who is a Colorado resident, will work with fire incident commanders.

When agreed upon by the secretary of defense and the governor of an affected
state, dual-status commanders can direct both federal Active Duty forces and
state National Guard forces in response to domestic incidents, Defense
Department officials said.

The unity of effort is intended to foster greater cooperation among federal
and state military assets during a disaster.

The dual-status commander concept was most recently used in support of the
NATO Summit, Chicago, Ill., in May.

Col. Byrne is a command pilot with more than 2,500 military flying hours and
more than 145 combat hours who was commissioned in 1984 and joined the
Colorado Air National Guard in 1991.

"Working hand in hand with Active Duty forces is something the National
Guard has performed seamlessly for more than 10 years in overseas missions,"
said Byrne. "Though the circumstances are tragic, bringing this experience
of partnership to help friends, family and neighbors is a rewarding and
natural extension of this valuable relationship."

According to Defense Department officials:

The nation's governors led the creation of this new opportunity for
collaboration. Dual-status commanders ensure that state and federal military
forces work together effectively together when states request federal
forces. Through this improved partnership, military forces responding to the
wildfires will be better able to avoid duplication of effort and support the
needs of the incident and the American people.

The dual-status commander concept was codified, in 2011, with 10 USC ยง 12304
as the usual and customary command and control arrangement for missions
involving the simultaneous deployment of Active Duty, Reserve and National
Guard forces in support of civilian authorities during major disasters and
emergencies.

Page last updated Fri June 29th, 2012 at 00:00