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Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA)

What is it?
The Army provides support to civil authorities as directed by the Secretary of Defense. The DSCA is formally defined in the National Response Framework published by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The 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. It 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 civil authorities during civil emergencies arising during peace, war, or transition to war. Federal law restricts use of Title X forces to support civil law enforcement. The 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?
Owing to unprecedented requirements for DoD support in the last three years, the Army published an order governing routine provisions of DSCA. In preparation for the 2008 hurricane season (June-November), the Department of the Army (DA) held a hurricane response exercise in conjuntion with Army commands, Army Service Component Commands (ASCC), and direct reporting units to ensure appropriate response US. Army readiness in the event of a federal response to a DSCA mission. The DA, in coordination with the U.S. Army Forces Command, Army Materiel Command, Army National Guard (ARNG), U.S. Army Reserve Command, and U.S. Army Pacific Command, developed an equipping plan that supports the Army's response to a specified DSCA mission and provides assistance during ARNG response to a governor's request for support. The U.S. Army North (USARNORTH) serves as the ASCC to U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). The USARNORTH provides USNORTHCOM a robust and flexible Army capability to USNORTHCOM operations, a single service point of contact for Army service related issues, and helps to establish and sustain relationships with appropriate coalition, federal, state, local and tribal, and federal agencies to facilitate emergency preparedness coordination in the case of Presidential-declared disasters. The USARNORTH continues to develop relationships with Canada and Mexico for DSCA using all available agreements.

Defense Coordinating Officers and Defense Coordinating Elements (DCO/Es) serve as DoD first responders to a natural or man-made 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. During 2008, a DCO/E representative deployed to the National Interagency Fire Center during wild-land firefighting operations. The DCO/E teams deployed to areas throughout the United States to support disaster response and recovery efforts, to include severe weather including tornados in Indiana, and Oklahoma; flooding in the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas; wildland fire fighting in California, Colorado, and North Carolina. Finally, DCO/Es deployed and supported hurricane response operations throughout the hurricane season.

In 2008, the Army provided support to national security special events and public recognition events including: the President's State of the Union Address (January), Super Bowl XLII (February ), Pope Benedict XVI's first visit to the U.S. (April), Public Service Recognition Week (May), the Joint Service Open House (May), the Democratic National Convention (August), the Republican National Convention (September), the United Nations General Assembly (September-October), and the G20 Financial Summit (November).

The President authorized the Secretary of Defense to provide DoD capabilities, primarily state National Guard, to support the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Under Operation Jump Start, approximately 1,884 Army National Guardsmen assisted the U.S. Border Patrol in this crucial homeland defense mission across four Southwest border states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas). During 2008, operational successes supported by the National Guard included aid in more than 176,600 alien apprehensions, the seizure of 316,397 pounds of marijuana, and 5,224 pounds of cocaine. Additionally, the National Guard assisted in the rescue of 100 aliens and the seizure of more than $80,698 in currency.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army will continue providing support to civil authorities when requested. Army agencies will continue 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 the DoD. One initiative is producing a yearly standing DSCA execute order, which will cover natural and man-made disasters. The Army has identified 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?
Army DSCA contributes to relief efforts supporting President-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. The DoD has a long tradition of supporting civil authorities, while maintaining its primary mission of fighting and winning the Nation's wars. The Army will remain the DoD's premiere land-based homeland defense response force. It stands ready to provide teams of highly skilled professionals with state-of-the-art equipment for integration and collaboration with federal, state, tribal, and local partners.

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