Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 10, 2013

When the 900 pound gorilla comes home

Filed under: Homeland Defense — by Christopher Bellavita on September 10, 2013

(Today’s post was written by Quinton Lucie)

When Johnny comes marching home again
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout
The ladies they will all turn out
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home. 

By late 2008 it was clear the large scale commitment of U.S. troops to Iraq was coming to an end. With that choice all but made, the U.S. military was coming home to resume its (mostly) garrison posture after finishing its commitments to Afghanistan.

While it is likely U.S. forces will sign a bi-lateral agreement with the Karzai government this year, allowing for an extended U.S. presence, it will be a small one, focused on counter-terror and training. With the exception of those forces engaged in combating the remnants of Al-Qaeda and their budding progeny, training our partners, and providing an expeditionary presence around the globe, the rest will be home (since I wrote this 4 weeks ago, Syria has joined the fray, but long term it is unlikely to see a significant contribution from conventional U.S. forces, if any).

The U.S. military is the nation’s single largest investment in capabilities and these returning capabilities will need to be reintegrated into the Homeland Security Enterprise.

The old church bell will peal with joy
Hurrah! Hurrah!
To welcome home our darling boy,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The village lads and lassies say
With roses they will strew the way,
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

There is the stuff, all the stuff paid for in the rush to build our capabilities for the Long War against Al-Qaeda, the counter-attack into Afghanistan and the foray into Iraq. For example MRAPs, a nearly $35 billion investment by Congress by 2010, will be left behind by the thousands or find their way into the inventories of local police forces.

There are the people, those soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen, many of whom from the first decade of these wars have already returned home, graduated from college or begun their second careers. They will bring their strengths and skills from their service by the thousands and innovation learned from hard learned experiences.

A few, however, will also take that experience and use it for personal gain.

Or worse.

But those cases will be dwarfed by the positive.  When it comes to our returning veterans and service members we need to harness the ideas and capabilities of the next MacGyver not waste the talents of the next Cool Hand Luke.

There will be the return of domestic capabilities to NORTHCOM and local military installations. With these new capabilities will NORTHCOM subsume SOUTHCOM in a new Americas combatant command? Will domestic military forces forge closer ties to Federal and state law enforcement? How much will they integrate into local firefighting efforts and the protection of local critical infrastructure? How much of this capability will be integrated into Federal emergency management efforts?

No matter the answer to these questions, this reorientation of the U.S. military will have a disruptive effect on the Homeland Security Enterprise.

But will the disruption be positive, leading to innovation and new efficiencies or will it be a detriment, like the “old” definition of disruptive? This might depend upon the most important legacy of the return of the military from these wars on the Homeland Security Enterprise, the ideas.

Get ready for the Jubilee,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give the hero three times three,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The laurel wreath is ready now
To place upon his loyal brow
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home.

In 2004, one of my friends deployed with a reserve Marine infantry battalion based out of Chicago. By 2005, those reservists had returned home and some began to implement new ideas, techniques and strategies they saw work overseas.

But some now question if all of these ideas have a place in the enterprise.

Unfortunately the effects have yet to be adequately measured. Certainly there are advantages, and like any ideas, disadvantages, but the Enterprise needs to find them now rather than let slow experience over the coming decades give us an answer. It needs to move faster like its medical partners.

The Enterprise also needs to define its role for the military. Will the military be leaders, members, partners or all of the above? When funds and support are perceived to shift to the military for emergency management activities will they be seen as a remora (one of nature’s force multipliers) or a leech? Will their invigorated relations with state and local officials be seen as a useful supplement to existing responsibilities or as an intrusion?

The military also needs to define its role within the Enterprise in the coming decades. Will Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) really become a primary mission or just a way to find more dollars to support national security missions only vaguely related to DSCA? What current training requirements get dropped for new requirements that emerge from new responsibilities? How will the Title 10 forces work with the National Guard, especially when it comes to emergency management? How will responsibility for protecting the emerging cyber commons be distributed among the military, civilian and private sector? Will the broader military industrial complex follow, for instance allowing drone vendors to squeeze out much more efficient (read: cheaper, faster and in many cases as capable) services similar to those provided by the Civil Air Patrol?

A great example of the possibilities, but also the pitfalls, can be found in the recently released Army Doctrinal Reference Publication 3-28 Defense Support of Civil Authorities. At 110 pages, it represents a significant effort (at least in comparison to its civilian counterparts) on the part of the Army. It is a fairly thorough overview of the Army’s expectations for DSCA. But it also has the mistakes that can be attributed to the motivated, but not yet initiated, that range occasionally from bad to worse.

For instance the bad –  mistaking “Federal accelerated assistance” as a separate authority for disaster response (it’s not, it’s just another way of delivering Federal disaster assistance under a Major Disaster or Emergency Declaration) – and the worse, alleging the National Emergencies Act is an authority to “institute martial law” (don’t worry it’s not). Or this well-meaning, motivating, but somewhat farcical, Air Force recruiting commercial from a few years ago.

It is crucial the Homeland Security Enterprise welcome these new sources of capabilities and possibilities. Recognition and acceptance must come from all levels of the Enterprise: the Federal bureaucrat looking to integrate military capabilities into national efforts, to the police officer who handles a traffic stop with a veteran still struggling to reintegrate, to local officials looking for new ways to add resilience to their communities.  It must be a holistic reception.

Let love and friendship on that day,
Hurrah, hurrah!
Their choicest pleasures then display,
Hurrah, hurrah!
And let each one perform some part,
To fill with joy the warrior’s heart,
And we’ll all feel gay
When Johnny comes marching home
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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 10, 2013 @ 12:42 am

Note Bene!

DoD not FEMA is given predeclaration authority to act in the Robert T. Stafford Act.

In my time and with specific assistance from DoJ all civil military regulations, guidance and instructions to the Armed Forces was given thorough opportunity to review and comment upon by the civil agencies including FEMA. Does this still happen or is DoD back to winging it?

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 10, 2013 @ 12:50 am

Section 403 c(1) of Stafford Act:
(c) Utilization of DOD Resources –
(1) General Rule – During the immediate aftermath of an incident which may ultimately qualify for assistance under this title or title V of this Act, the Governor of the State in which such incident occurred may request the President to direct the Secretary of Defense to utilize the resources of the Department of Defense for the purpose of performing on public and private lands any emergency work which is made necessary by such incident and which is essential for the preservation of life and property. If the President determines that such work is essential for the preservation of life and property, the President shall grant such request to the extent the President determines practicable. Such emergency work may only be carried out for a period not to exceed 10 days.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 10, 2013 @ 12:52 am

Largely trained for organized violence against an “enemy” how much training of the Armed Forces is applied to dealing with citizens and residents of the USA and what exactly is the Chain of Command for those efforts in DoD?

Comment by Quin

September 10, 2013 @ 8:06 am


That section was specifically added by Trent Lott in 1988 when he grew frustrated at the lack of timely DoD particpation in disaster response as a result of a specific experience in Mississippi after one of their hurricanes. While it is specific to DoD, the President has delegated the authority to carry out that section to FEMA via the Secretary of Homeland Security. It issued regulations on how to utilize this authority just after the Stafford Act was passed in 1988 at 44 CFR 206.34. DoD still must have a request from a governor and then a subsequent request from a FEMA Assistant Administrator before they can deploy under this authority.

Quite franky it’s probably redundant authority since if an event was so devastating as to require the committment of DoD resources, it’s very likely a Stafford Act declaration would be issued as quick or quicker than this authority could be utilized. And for those situations “right outside the front gate” of a DoD installation, installion commanders have immediate response authority as detailed in their DSCA regulations and DoD Directive 3025.18.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 10, 2013 @ 9:01 am

Since I have consistently argued since enactment of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 [Public Law 93-288} that FEMA even as Presidential delegate agency HAS NO ROLE IN RIOTS AND CIVIL DISORDERS AND NO DECLARATION EVER IN US HISTORY UNDER THE THEN EXISTING DISASTER LEGISLATION perhaps the DoD role in those events and the rest of DHS should be examined closely by OLC/DoJ!

The last effort on that type of analysis was Mary Lawton’s wonderful [IMO] 1980 monograph on military support in riots and civil disorders. Still not updated to my knowledge.

And also IMO law enforcement assistance generally precluded under the Robert T. Stafford Act as currently amended and it predecessor acts.

See for example 28 CFR Part 65! Unreferenced by DoD in any of their current writings on Posse Commitatus.

And to my latest info the DoD course on Civil Liaison still taught at Mt. Weather and no FEMA OCC or DHS OGC personnel have ever taken it.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 10, 2013 @ 9:03 am

As to 44 CFR Part 206.34 there is no official signoff on that regulation by DoD! Or by DoJ!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

September 10, 2013 @ 1:04 pm


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