Defense Support to Civil Authorities

The use of federal military forces to help state and local officials is not a new mission. State and local officials have often requested federal assistance in times of crisis, and that assistance has frequently been provided by the military. The Department of Defense (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 the DoD.

There are three primary mechanisms by which DoD would take part in a Federal response to a domestic incident. Federal assistance, including assistance from DoD, would be provided: (1) at the direction of the President; (2) at the request of another Federal agency under the Economy Act, or (3) in response to a request from DHS's Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Stafford Act. The second and third mechanisms require a request for assistance and approval of the Secretary of Defense.

First, under the Constitution, the President may direct any Federal agency to provide assets in support of an incident response. The President has the authority to direct any Federal agency, with or without reimbursement, to support state and local assistance efforts in a major disaster or emergency.

Second, another Federal agency can request DoD support in accordance with the Economy Act for non-Stafford Act responses. If DoD assistance is contemplated, the requesting Federal agency submits a request for assistance through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Executive Secretary. The request is processed through the Joint Staff and Office of the Secretary of Defense and submitted to the Secretary of Defense for a decision.

Lastly, DoD assistance may be requested under the Stafford Act. The requesting Federal agency submits a request for assistance through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Executive Secretary. The request is processed through the Joint Staff and Office of the Secretary of Defense and submitted to the Secretary of Defense for a decision. Once DoD resources are employed in support of domestic civil authorities, they are under the command and control of Commander, USNORTHCOM, for responses in the Continental United States, Alaska, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia; or Commander, USPACOM, for Hawaii and U.S. territories, possessions, and protectorates in the Pacific region.

An important tenet of defense support of civil authorities is that DoD is always in support of domestic civil authorities. It is also important to note that the chain of command always runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense to the Combatant Commander concerned.

The following are brief examples of civil support activities last year:


Defense Support to Civil Authorities - Avian Flu Pandemic Preparation

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What is it? Each winter there is a worldwide flu season that causes the death of about 37,000 Americans. Flu pandemics occur about three times each century. A pandemic is caused when the flu virus mutates to produce a strain so different from previous strains that natural immunity does not exist. In the 1918-1919 pandemic up to 40 million people worldwide died, including 48,000 members of the U.S. military. In the 1957-1958 pandemic about one million people worldwide died. And, in the 1968-1969 pandemic almost four million people died.

What has the Army done? In support of the Department of Homeland Security led effort, U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) developed an Avian Influenza Response Plan.

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army’s mission to respond to a pandemic includes;

Why is this important to the Army? The Army is not protected any more than the remainder of the American population. A pandemic would adversely affect Army personnel readiness and impact the Army’s ability to conduct operations. Preparation and prevention is the more efficient and safer means of handling flu pandemics. Therefore, the Army has developed a response plan and will continue to update this plan.


Defense Support to Civil Authorities - Establishment of Army Forces North

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What is it? The Army established of U.S. Army Northern Command (ARNORTH) as the Army Service Component Command of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM). Its primary mission is to conduct Civil Support and Homeland Defense operations. An additional ARNORTH mission is to perform Security Cooperation in the NORTHCOM area of responsibility.

What has the Army done? On October 1, 2005, 5th U.S. Army, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, established an initial operational capability at ARNORTH.

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The build of a full operational capability will be complete during 2007.

Why is this important to the Army? This will provide the NORTHCOM commander with a single point of contact for all land domain security challenges across his AOR, as the Army provides to the other Regional Combatant Commanders today. This headquarters will provide the Army a focal point for all DOTLM-PF issues related to defense of the homeland and will provide a standing headquarters to develop the long term interagency relationships critical to success in domestic emergencies.


Defense Support to Civil Authorities - Hurricane Katrina Response

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What is it? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requested Department of Defense support to conduct search and rescue operations, infrastructure support and help to provide stability to the region and hope to the many displaced persons as part of a government-wide response to Hurricane Katrina.

What did the Army do? The Army conducted one of the largest peacetime deployments of personnel and equipment within the United States in support of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The total Army commitment to this effort included: 7,319 active component Soldiers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Fort Hood, Texas; 42,203 National Guard Soldiers from every state in the country; and 324 Army Reserve Soldiers. Additionally, more than 3,500 Army Corps of Engineers Personnel (Soldiers, civilians, and contractors) were committed to the relief effort. 233 helicopters, both from the Active Army and the National Guard as well as 50 fixed wing aircraft from the Active Army, Army Reserve and National Guard were committed.

The Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) provided over 135 professional fillers for units deploying in support. Additionally, the MEDCOM provided four Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine liaison officers, two Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Technicians from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, five Chaplains and 14 Medical Logistics Augmentees. The MEDCOM also provided over 40 other individual professional specialists in support of the Hurricane Relief Operation.

U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) provided one Medical Evaluation Detachment (3 helicopters) that evacuated 889 patients; two Preventive Medicine Teams (26 Soldier total) consisting of an Environmental Science Officer; an Environmental Engineer; and Preventive Medicine Specialists; 220 personnel (103 personnel were Professional fillers from MEDCOM) to support an 84-bed Combat Support Hospital (CSH) and 39 Soldiers to support a 120-bed minimal care detachment; a 4 Soldier dental detachment from Fort Bragg to augment the CSH; 4 Soldier blood detachment from Fort Sam Houston to augment the medical logistics company; 2-Veterinary Teams (24 personnel total); a 20 Soldier forward surgical team sent forward into New Orleans and a 51 personnel medical logistics company to facilitate distribution of medical supplies in the area of operation. A total of 2,340 patients were treated by FORSCOM medical assets. FORSCOM also established Task Force Care at Fort Polk, Louisiana to facilitate distribution of accurate and timely information, supplies and housing to Soldiers that were displaced by the hurricane. Additionally, mental health assets were offered to the affected Soldiers and their families and medicine and medical supplies were distributed to Task Force Katrina as well.

The Army Corps of Engineers provided over $4 billion of support, providing water, temporary housing, temporary power, debris removal, temporary repair to damaged roofs, restoring navigable waterways and restoring levee protection.

The Army Reserve provided Mississippi Reserve Centers in Greenwood to shelter displaced persons; in Laurel to shelter relief workers; and in Vicksburg to serve as classrooms.

The Installation Management Agency (IMA) provided Fort Gillem, Georgia for a FEMA mobilization center.

The U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC) provided Red River Army Depot as a staging area for trailers for temporary housing.

The Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), AMC and IMA provided chaplain support.

Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command provided senior leadership to Northern Command's Deployment and Distribution Operations Center and coordinated the flow of materials, food, water and other supplies into the devastated areas with Defense Logistics Agency, FEMA and U.S. Transportation Command.

Finally, TRADOC, the Military District of Washington and the Army Criminal Investigation Division Command provided law enforcement support.

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army will continue to provide support to hurricane disaster relief as requested by FEMA and in accordance with applicable law when directed by the Secretary of Defense.

Why is this important to the Army? This operation displayed the Army’s resolve to respond to emergencies and support Americans affected by natural disasters. It also demonstrates the Army’s capability to provide domestic support while maintaining global commitments and fighting the Global War on Terrorism.


Defense Support to Civil Authorities - Special Events for 2005

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What is it? Each year the Army provides support to Civil Authorities in accordance with applicable laws as directed by the Secretary of Defense and participates in various events to enhance security and showcase Army capabilities.

What has the Army done? A few examples where the Army supported civilian special events include:

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army remains committed to provide support when able to do so for a variety of special events.

Why is this important to the Army? The Army presence at these special events and its support to civil authorities enhances the Army’s image to the public. The image reassures the public and complements our recruiting efforts.