Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 24, 2006

DOD and DHS agree on criteria for response roles

Filed under: Homeland Defense,Preparedness and Response — by Christian Beckner on April 24, 2006

Sec. Chertoff and Sec. Rumsfeld sent a joint memorandum to President Bush two weeks ago, one which puts forth a common set of principles that the define conditions under which either DOD or DHS should lead the response to a catastrophic event. The memorandum defines the six “key facts and circumstances for consideration in making an assessment,” as listed below:

  • The status of the State and local response. How effective is the initial State and local response, including the use of the affected State’s or States’ National Guard? Have first responders been overwhelmed by the incident? What is the availability of National Guard assistance from other states?
  • Intergovernmental relations. What is the nature of the relationship, skill, and trust among the leadership of the Federal, State (or States), and local governments in the affected jurisdictions?
  • Implementation of the National Response Plan. Has the Governor of the affected State requested Federal assistance or, in the absence of a request, have you invoked applicable Federal authorities to initiate a Federal response?
  • The status of the Federal civilian response. Do available Federal civilian responders, with their contracted support, have the necessary capabilities to deal effectively with the incident? Are they, in fact, dealing effectively with the incident? What are the recommendations of the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense?
  • The involvement of active duty U.S. military forces. Have U.S. military forces – Active, National Guard, and Reserve – been requested by the Governor of the affected State? Is the magnitude of the incident so great that the logistical, transportation, search and rescue, communications, or CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear) capabilities of DoD are deemed to be essential to an effective response?
  • Military-to-military and military-to-civilian relations. What is the nature of the relationships among the U.S. military – Active, National Guard, and Reserve – and the Adjutant General and the Governor of the affected State?

These all seem appropriate, but they still leave a lot of room for subjectivity in this decision-making process. I’d like to know more about which specific types of scenarios would require DOD to take the lead role in response.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

April 25, 2006 @ 11:32 am

The relationship of DOD to the civil agencies is extremely complex and often the funding of DOD for civil preparedness programs, functions, and activities is in effect a zero-sum game vis a vis the civil agencies. With respect to HHS, it really has been in the process of creating a whole new stove-pipe on crisis management and response with respect to Pandemics and Bioterrorism. Both fully independent systems, which are extremely politically naive and violate principles of federalism and emergency planning need to be studied closely by the other civil agencies and DHS in particular. The law enforcement community led by DOJ and its subordinate units has long had deep suspicions about DOD policies and training. Until a wonderful woman/person now deceased named Mary Lawton wrote a detailed manual (not yet updated by DOJ because of DOD recalcitrance) in 1981 called “Military Support In Civil Disturbances” DOD and ARMY training information allowed for unConstitutional action in that Martial Law could be declared by military commanders. Ms Lawton’s monograph made clear and since has been supported by OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) in DOJ that any “Martial Law” order has to be (1) geographically specific; (2) approved by the Attorney General of the United States; and (3) signed by the President. It probably would be helpful and allow better humanitarian assistance by DOD and State National Guard units if federalized if Congress would amend the so-called Posse Commitatus” Act to add the word “Criminal” before the word “law” in that Act or otherwise make clear that the Armed Forces of the United States should not be involved in enforcing the federal criminal code (Title 18 of the United States Code) or State or local criminal laws.
HHS has to learn and understand and meld the governmental systems utilized in crisis management when melding technical medical planning on Pandemics and Bioterrorism and make plain that its systems rests on private and NGO assets that have virtually no funds for adequate preparedness or developing surge capability.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 22, 2006 @ 4:00 am

A new NSPD/HSPD is being worked on to deal with DOD and HHS in Domestic Crisis Response! Target date unknown but very high priority!

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