EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — August 10, 2005

Defense Support of Civil Authorities
Incident Response & Specialized Capabilities

Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Garza
Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Northern Command
Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado

Avagene Moore
EIIP Moderator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Amy Sebring, my partner/associate, and I are pleased you could join us today! Today's topic is "Defense Support of Civil Authorities - Incident Response and Specialized Capabilities." If you have not read the background materials, including our speaker's bio, please do so after today's session.

It is a pleasure to welcome Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Garza to the EIIP Virtual Forum. Lt. Col. Garza was commissioned through the United States Air Force Academy in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in military history. He is currently a Public Affairs Officer for U.S. Northern Command, Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. Please read Lt. Col. Garza's bio for a sketch of his distinguished military career.

Please help me welcome Lt. Col. Garza to today's EIIP Virtual Forum - we are delighted you are here and I now turn the floor to you.


Lt Col Roberto Garza: It is a pleasure to be here today to discuss Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA). To start our discussion, let’s consider the following question. What are US NORTHERN COMMAND’S (USNORTHCOM) missions?

USNORTHCOM was established in 2002 to provide command and control of Department of Defense (DoD) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support to civil authorities. USNORTHCOM reached full operational capability on 11 September 2003. USNORTHCOM’s specific mission is to:

• Conduct operations to deter, prevent, defeat and mitigate threats and aggression aimed at the U.S., its territories and interests within the assigned area of responsibility (AOR); and

• As directed by the President or Secretary of Defense, provide defense support to civil authorities (DSCA) during disasters or emergencies, including consequence management operations.

The DSCA Mission

USNORTHCOM’s civil support mission includes counterdrug operations, managing the consequences of a terrorist event employing a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) and domestic disaster relief operations that occur during natural disasters such as fires, hurricanes, ice storms, floods and earthquakes. The command provides assistance to a primary federal agency (PFA) when tasked by DoD.

In providing DSCA, USNORTHCOM generally operates through established Joint Task Forces (JTFs) which are subordinate to the command. Currently, the following units are subordinate to USNORTHCOM:

• Standing Joint Force Headquarters-North (SJFHQ-N)

• Joint Task Force-Civil Support (JTF-CS)

• Joint Task Force-Alaska (JTF-AK)

• Joint Task Force-North (JTF-N)

• Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR)

When Does USNORTHCOM Get Involved?

An emergency must exceed the capabilities of local, state and federal agencies before USNORTHCOM becomes involved. The command provides assistance to a PFA when tasked by DoD. In most cases, support will be limited, localized and specific. When the scope of the disaster is reduced to the point that the PFA no longer requires USNORTHCOM assistance, USNORTHCOM will exit, leaving the on-scene experts to finish the job.

The Request Process

USNORTHCOM has as part of its mission, providing DSCA when tasked by the President or Secretary of Defense -- most likely in response to an emergency, in helping deal with its management consequence or clean-up. USNORTHCOM only provides assistance after the PFA asks DoD for it and after DoD tasks USNORTHCOM to provide it. A PFA might be any of the federal agencies with which USNORTHCOM works, including FEMA, EPA, USCG, USDA, DOE, DHS, DOT, DOJ, DOC, etc.

When a disaster happens, the first responders are the local agencies -- police, fire fighters, EMS. If the emergency exceeds their ability to contain or manage it, they usually seek state-level assistance. If the emergency is large enough, the state may seek federal assistance. If the emergency pushes the limits of the PFA’s ability to manage it, they may contact the President or DoD and ask for assistance. If it looks like the military does indeed have those skills or equipment, DoD validates the request and may task USNORTHCOM with providing that support to the PFA.

Considerable coordination and synchronization is required to make all of this work. USNORTHCOM synchronizes activities with multiple national, international agencies and departments, National Guard Bureau, and U.S. Reserve Commands to ensure mutual understanding and unity of effort across the full spectrum of operations.....

Only Respond When Requested

USNORTHCOM will not jump into every emergency. In fact, USNORTHCOM will probably assist civil authorities during comparatively few emergencies. When USNORTHCOM does get involved, we assist instead of control -- the primary federal agency continues to control to ensure continuity. "Assistance" does not mean that we overwhelmingly deploy troops or scramble fighter jets. In most cases, assistance will be limited, localized, and specific. Also, the assistance provided will come as a last resort and when the volatility of the disaster is reduced to the point that the primary federal agency no longer requires military assistance, we will exit leaving the on-scene experts to finish the job.

Posse Comitatus Act

USNORTHCOM will operate within the confines of the law. It will not engage in law enforcement activities but when requested by civil authorities and approved by the civilian leadership of the DoD it will support civil authorities in their public safety missions. Basically, whoever uses any part of the military to participate in a search and seizure, arrest, or similar activities to enforce laws will be in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act and shall be fined or imprisoned.

USNORTHCOM is a federal or national level resource. Local military bases or installations across the country work with State and local level governments. However, the local base can be a great resource for local jurisdictions. I highly recommend establishing working relationships with local base or installation commanders.

This concludes my formal remarks. I am available for questions and now turn the floor back to our Moderator.

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Lt. Col. Garza. I am sure there are several questions for you from our audience

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Rick Pinzon: Thanks. How does Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) fit into the picture as a force provider?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: Rick, I don't want to speak for JFCOM, you need to ask them that question.

Larry Porter: Lt Col, When will DoD and/or NORTHCOM update the DoD Directives on MACA (3025 series) to reflect NORTHCOM and DSCA, etc.?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: Planners are probably working on them as we speak.

Mike Barney: Thank you Lt. Col Garza for taking the time for this webinar. Do you see that the help from Northcom / DoD would then be more likely related to providing a very specific capability, such as providing a specific signal intelligence (SIGINT) capability to locate trapped persons, or integrated comms support, as a support team to an Incident Command, as opposed to sending a company or brigade in as general help?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: It depends on situation or incident. Some requests will require specialize capabilities. Other requests do not. If the Federal agency in the lead of incident has the capabilities, specialized or general in nature, then no need for us to get involved.

Ed PearceCBCP: Does Northcom's role change the mission of the National Guard as the primary military resource for disasters within a State under the control of the Governor and state Adjutant General?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: No, the State will call on its resources, to include the Guard to respond to emergencies or disasters, and they will be under State control. It is only when the State exhausts all resources and federal resources are exhausted as well that the Guard members may be federalized if they ask Northcom to get involved.

Vijaya Tripathi: Sir, you mentioned that in the request consideration process, a deciding factor is whether the military has the skills or equipment. What skills/equipment does USNORTHCOM generally find itself called upon to provide to support first responders/EMS personnel in emergency situations?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: Again, it depends on the situation. Most of the time, the local, state or federal authorities can handle the situation and NC will not get called in to help. But in the event, the disaster overwhelms all then we'll get tasked to support.

Vivien Sazon: Sir, what kinds of needs do you expect to have for in-motion broadband communications to support domestic disaster operations?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: Do not know; that type of specific question would have to be staffed with our comms directorate. They would be able to tell you.

Ray Pena: Sir, you indicate that the DSCA mission includes "managing the consequences of a terrorist event employing a WMD." Recent newspaper articles and an editorial in today's Washington Times make it clear that civilians are in charge if we are ever attacked by terrorists using WMD. What does "managing the consequences of a terrorist event employing WMD" mean in the DSCA mission statement?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: As an example, let’s say it is a chemical attack, and the local, state, or federal authorities are not equipped with chemical gear to perform clean-up, they can turn to our military capabilities to dispatch a team to clean it up.

Terry Storer: What role does your Command have in relation to the Immediate Response Authority under the NRP?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: With respect to NRP, a supporting role.

Joe Sukaskas: Col. Garza, does USNORTHCOM regularly test/exercise its Defense Support to Civil Authorities role together with State / local governments and with the private sector, that is responsible for much of the nation’s critical infrastructure, and are reports/summaries of such exercises publicly available?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: Yes we do conduct exercises with all levels of government a number of times. Don't know if the reports of exercises are publicly available, they should be.

Lois McCoy: Col Garza, sir: At what level will NORTHCOM enter an event under the DHS Catastrophic Interim Incident Response Plan?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: Not sure of the levels. I would guess at the federal level. We get called in after federal resources of that particular agency are exhausted or they are in need of our specialized capabilities.

Rick Pinzon: When can we expect to see an updated version of the DOD HLD and Civil Support Joint Operating Concept? I understand your J5 has this for action.

Lt Col Roberto Garza: I do not have specific date or timeline. It needs to go through coordination process once updated.

Amy Sebring: Are VA (Veterans Affairs) resources, such as medical resources, subject to the same request process if you know? Or is there a different process in coordination with DHHS (Dept. of Health and Human Services) in support of the National Response Plan health and medical Emergency Support Function?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: I do not know.

Michaela Kekedy: Sir, can you give any examples of how NORTHCOM has responded to an approved request?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: We are currently flying C-130's equipped with fire fighting equipment in support of fire fighting efforts in the Northwest.


Lois McCoy: Thank you Col Garza and we appreciate the fine work that NORTHCOM has done in this new risky domestic area.

Isabel McCurdy: Lt. Col. Garza is your response only done on domestic American soil or will you assist internationally?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: In response to assisting on international level, only at the request of sovereign nation, and approval from our government.

Avagene Moore: Lt Col Garza, do you wish to give your email address before we go to our next question?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: Yes, [email protected]

Terry Storer: Recently CNN visited the NORTHCOM/NORAD Operations Center. I noted a number of individuals in civilian attire. Do you use a "blended" group of both military & civilian operations personnel?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: Yes, we do.

Isabel McCurdy: Lt Col Garza, are you familiar with Canada’s Dod- Disaster Assistance Response Team known as DART?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: I am familiar only because they were at a Disaster Management Conference with us and I had a chance to chat with them, but that is my extent of familiarity.

Amy Sebring: Without getting into any sensitive areas, can you give a few more examples of specialized skills or resources that have not been previously mentioned here?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: Deep sea divers, aviation assets, comm equipment.

There are other areas as well but a long laundry list is not at my disposal.


John Anderson: I must say I was impressed with the Priz rescue off Kamchatka. I think the whole world was impressed. Kudos to the USN etc. for responding to that one.

Lt Col Roberto Garza: Yes, a great job by all.

Terry Storer: Are costs covered by DOD?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: If we respond to request from federal agency that particular federal agency bears the cost.

Amy Sebring: Are there any current planning efforts underway that you can mention?

Lt Col Roberto Garza: We have plans for many contingencies and continue to create new plans as our missions evolve or expand. We continue to update plans as well.


Avagene Moore: That is all the time we have for today's session. Thank you, Lt. Col. Garza! We greatly appreciate your effort and time on our behalf.

Please stand by a moment while we make some quick announcements. If you are not currently on our mailing list, and would like to get program announcements and notices of transcript availability, please see the Subscribe link on our home page.

If you are interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please see the "Partnership for You" link on the EIIP Virtual Forum homepage http://www.emforum.org .

Again, the transcript of today's session will be posted later today and you will be able to access it from our home page. An announcement will also be sent to our Mail Lists when the transcript is available.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. We appreciate you, the audience!

Before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Lt. Col. Garza for a fine job. The EIIP Virtual Forum is adjourned!