Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Discuss: New type of commander to coordinate domestic disaster response

The AP reports that "the Defense Department is grooming a new type of commander to coordinate the military response to domestic disasters, hoping to save lives by avoiding some of the chaos that plagued the Hurricane Katrina rescue effort."

Read the full article

A National Guard Soldier from the 148th Medical
Company helps a stranded man to the roof of a
New Orleans school building Sept. 6, 2005, during
Hurricane Katrina flooding. Photo Credit: Brien Aho
According to the article:
  • A dual-status commander would get temporary authority to command active-duty and Guard troops and would report up both chains of command, to the president and the state's governor. 
  • The goal is to have at least one officer in each of the 50 states and in four U.S. territories qualified and ready to be a dual-status commander on a moment's notice.
Question: Do you think this will significantly improve disaster response operations? Do you think the states and the federal government can move beyond historical disagreement on who should command federal forces responding to a disaster in a state?


Anonymous said...

According to the article, this is an idea born from failures suffered during the response to Hurricane Katrina. While few would argue that communications break-downs abounded, and greatly hampered the response effort, I personally believe those break-downs represented a systemic failure within the federal interagency not extended to DoD. National Guard Commanders preformed admirably during the response and should not have their chain of command disrupted as a result of other institutional culture clashes in the civilian sector.

Anonymous said...

The RC is too often considered the "little brother" of the AC. I fear concepts like this will only perpetuate that impression within the services. Being perceived as a little brother of the AC isn't just an issue of vanity, it affects continuity and ultimately hinders the interoperability of the unique capabilities available only within the RC, which are essential to augmenting the total force for response both foreign and domestic.

justdave said...

bottom line is the 'failures' were primarily caused by/exacerbated by the governor's politics

w/o a formal request for assistance signed by the governor no fed agency can spend a dime except for 'immediate response' which is very narrowly defined by law

LA's (dem) waited days to sign while MS's (rep) did immediately

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see if this has an affect as intended. Lots of obvious consequences for career/promotion of the new dual status officers but will it enhance disaster response? Better question, if this is effective how might the role and use of such dual status officers be expanded.

Anonymous said...

Command. Control. Communicate. Twenty years ago at 2d Army we tried to at least clarify the commo part by creating an Information Mission Area Reference Manual. Legally each CONUS Army would C&C actions in support of civilian authorities in their regional area. Ours was the SE mainland, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands. Because the only commo to the USVI was through the Forestry Service on the heels of hurricane Hugo in 1989 we thought we'd be ready when Andrew blew through in 1992. We weren't because the reference manuals hadn't been updated per request when changes occurred. Who will be in charge if the New Madras breaks loose?I'm retired now..y'all figure it out.

Sean said...

Ummm are we missing something here: "Of the estimated 60,000 people that needed to be rescued from rooftops and flooded homes, Coast Guardsmen saved more than 33,500, including rescuing from peril 24,135 lives and evacuating 9,409 medical patients to safety. The rescue and the response efforts were some of the largest in Coast Guard history, involving units from every district. Over 5,600 Coast Guardsmen participated in the Coast Guard's response efforts"

The smallest service we have (not DOD in this instance) absolutely dominated...both active and reserve on rescues and are considered the saving grace for the federal response during Katrina. The rest of the DOD needs to take notice of how they (the Coast Guard) performs so rapidly with the budget of a new aircraft carrier. They already handle domestic disaster response. Lets beef up their budget and quit jerking around.

Civil Affairs Vet said...

I strongly suggest that a Dual Status Command be stood up prior to any disaster. Do not wait until the disaster strikes. A Coast Guard, NG or USAR or USAFR flag grade should have the billet and a combination full time and drilling reserve staff. The staff could be augmented by IMAs. This DISASTER COMMAND would move to the site of the disaster and command all AC and RC units and individual personnel.