GovExec reports today on a Senate HSGAC hearing held on Thursday, where DOD Asst. Secretary for Homeland Defense Paul McHale questioned whether a single official should be in charge of National Guard and active-duty forces during future domestic crises:
Paul McHale, the Pentagon’s assistant secretary for homeland defense, told senators during a hearing that he has changed his mind concerning whether one person should have been placed in charge of all military forces involved in the response to Hurricane Katrina….
McHale told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that he has now come to realize that the concept, which is commonly referred to as dual-hatting, will not work during a domestic catastrophe.
“A dual-hatting command falls apart if you have a difference of opinion between two executives,” he said. “In a crisis environment, I think it’s almost inevitable that the president and a governor will have differences of opinion. To put an officer in a crossfire between the two of them, I think is untenable.”
The article goes on to discuss suggestions by Senators during the hearing that the military was slow to respond to Katrina – an area of inquiry that the HSGAC has indicated that it plans to pursue since the late fall. I think we can expect some interesting recommendations on the DOD’s role in emergency response in the Katrina investigation reports, which the statements today by McHale likely try to anticipate.