DOD recently finalized a revision to Part 185 of Title 32 of the CFR. There are troubling aspects to this final regulation for civil/military relationships. Entitled Military Support to Civil Authorities it reflects a long continuum of the military industrial complex to adjust to life in a technologically advanced and complicated democracy–the oldest and richest in the world.
A revision is under way to the PERI-Public Entity Risk Institute’s wonderful book, edited by Claire B. Rubin, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: The American Experience 1900-2005! The technical complex arena of military/civilian interface was NOT fully addressed in this volume and hoping the update may do so. Those who have read the misnamed RISING TIDE–by John Barry about the 1927 riverine/inland flooding of the Mississippi River understand that effort did involve the military but had a leadership role for the federal government under the auspices of Herbert Hoover who then became President in 1929. The ARC-American Red Cross also had a major role.
The truth is that few could understand the current involvement and depth of interest in domestic crisis management of DOD and the US Armed Forces unless one took the time and effort to do so. I have encouraged a number of persons to create a history of military civil relationships in the US but so far no takers. The intervention of the Brazial military in the recent landslides is again an example of the fact that 95% of all nations utilize their military as “last” responders or even “first” responders. Comparative studies of other nations emergency management, crisis management, and homeland security is relatively rare. And while many countries did adopt the US version of a Civil Defense organization, noe in reality adopted the FEMA version of the same. Perhaps analysis of why or why not could be helpful in understand other questions.
For example, I always have argued that the FEMA in or out of DHS issue is the wrong question. First and always understand that neither FEMA nor DHS is an all-hazards organization however all-hazards is defined. FEMA without a disaster or emergency declaration is largely out of the picture. Witness Haiti and the BP catastrophe. DHS is largely out of the picture when a health or bioterrorism issue is the problem at hand. These are just several of scores of examples. Neither FEMA nor DHS has ever fulfilled statutory mandates to document staff and equipment and supplies available to the STATES and their local governments for crisis management and disasters. And no one in the various civil agencies has the slightest idea of what DOD could bring to the table should the “big one” occur.
Well plenty of raw meat to feed those interested in finding out what the current crisis management system is in the US and how that is documented. What continues to fascinate me is how willing all administrations are to believe in non-existent systems to protect American lives, property, aqnd civil rights and liberties in a crisis and certainly none wish to admit that there is NO system. And as readers of my blogs and comments on other blogs know that is my experience.
So perhaps PERI should have a book written called AD HOCKERY–The American System of Crisis Management.