Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 10, 2006

DOD and emergency response: an end to dual-hatting?

Filed under: Homeland Defense,Preparedness and Response — by Christian Beckner on February 10, 2006

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.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

February 11, 2006 @ 10:18 am

This issue was identified during the domestic riots and civil disorders of the 60’s. Basically, DOD’s failure to resolve this key domestic response to large-scale emergencies/incidents/events has left the country vulnerable to misuse of the military in domestic response. New players and new arrangements are the modus operandi for DOD in each new situation requiring DOD assets, witness the current failure to identify eactly where NORTHCOM fits in during DOD involvement in domestic response. Mary Lawton (deceased 1982) produced a fine unclassied report entitile “Military Support in Civil Disorders” which identified the erroneous legal and training materials utilized within DOD for related issues. Mary was also (with no implied criticism intended) the individual that was the real adminstrative predecessor to FISA arrangements now in affect. It is a fact that the Department of Justice(DOJ) is complicit in the DOD disarray because high justice officials have been leary about updating Mary’s handbook and getting their hands dirty so-to-speak with DOD. An interesting historical footnote is that the now defunct FEMA was often a shock-absorber between DOD and DOJ on domestic response issues involving one or both agencies. It is unknown how the civil agency interface with DOD is operted today between DOJ and DHS and DOD, but Secretary Chertoff is personally expert on the DOJ/DOD interface from his prior service as Assistant Attorney General Criminal Division in DOJ. Since line-drawing between DOJ (Law Enforcement) and DOD (Homeland Defense) and DHS (Homeland Security) are not bright lines, Secretary Chertoff seems to be the right man in the right job.


Comment by Jeffery Fisher

February 12, 2006 @ 4:41 pm

While McHale is pointing out the problem, he is clearly being guided by hands that do not have the Constitution or Federalism in mind. The National Guard is not a DoD tool, they are the armed force of the Governor. There is no reason to have a Title 10 (Active Duty) officials in charge of both title 10 and 32 forces. If one goes to the NRP and NIMMS, while not the best answer, it does provide the road map for future organization. Certainly it does need much improvement, but the bottom line is that civilians control the situation and military fall under each appropriate level. Title 10 fails under the PFO and the Title 32 falls under the governor. If more National Guard are required from outside the state, the incoming could fall under either hat. But the bottom line in a multi state incident or operation, the Title 10 Active duty do not need to be in charge, this should be coordinated and controlled by the states.

LTG Andre was a little out of control last fall in New Orleans and should have been reined in. USNORTHCOM should be disbanded and turned over to the National Guard Bureau and in time of multi state coordination this command would fall under the authority of DHS through the PFO and connduct all coordination of the armed forces. If title 10 is needed, they would fall under the TAG of the state they are in.

The real crutch of the problem is that active duty does not want to be under a National Guard Command. Also, because of the sheer incompetence of the Louisiana elected officials, the active duty has been chomping at the bit to gain control. As messed up as it is it is something we have to accept because this is the rule of law; the Constitution. DoD should focus on the external, DHS with the National Guard should focus on the internal.


Comment by Jeffery Fisher

February 12, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

Comment on Mr. Cummings comments: Chertoff needs to go now and he is well over his head. Much of the problem with DHS is the DoJ mindset that rejects anything DoD. Law enforcement has little to do with real national defense as does the moronic notion of providing a mitigating efforts. The DHS mission should be protection, prevention and response to our CI/KR. This is what security and defense is, not a FEMA like agency. FEMA should be its own free standing agency under the Department of Interior. With that said, all CONUS counterintelligence should be under DHS, not the FBI, DOJ or the Office for Intelligence. There can be much learned from the British, French and Australians in this regard.

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