Military Civil relations and Domestic Crisis Management!

Eric Holderman was nice enough to post an extract from the document below on his DISASTER ZONE blog yesterday with some personal reflections. Here is the entire document for this blog readers and researchers:

[This technical note is not copyrighted and may be used for any purpose]

VLG Technical Note

Updated January 1, 2010


[Editor’s Note-The technical note series is designed to stimulate thinking about subjects for academic research and improvements in doctrine otherwise impacting current policy discussions and issue analysis. The principal intent is to highlight subjects for further study.]


Whether further militarization of domestic civil crisis management jeopardizes the governmental system and heritage of the United States?


Astoundingly, in the years of the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush only active or retired military officers, some of flag rank officer served as National Security Advisers but only one supported strengthening of civil agency capability and plans as opposed to preemptively trying to take over domestic civil response. Name of that General—Colin Powell. Before General Powell two officers one a retired field grade officer Marine Infantry and one a Vice Admiral in the Navy had served Reagan as NSC adviser- “Bud” Robert C.McFarlane and John Poindexter. Colin Powell was followed by General Brent Scowcroft as head of the NSC staff under George H. W. Bush. The NSC staff in the last three decades has been largely staffed by serving military officers on detail from DoD. The exact staffing of the NSC since its establishment in 1947 would be of interest as far as giving insight in military civil relationships. President Obama’s first NSC Adviser was retired Marine 4-star James Jones. I view that staffing pattern as eroding civilian control of the military.


1988 National Security Emergency Plan

Domestic Crisis Management and Response—

On the Road to All-Hazards Plans and Preparedness

One of the interesting areas for research is the development and background of the National Response Framework [NRF] issued in final January 2008 [now again under active revision]. The NRF also includes a biological incident annex published September 2008. The NRF supersedes the National Response Plan [NRP] that was mandated by the Homeland Security Strategy of 2002, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Reorganization Plan submitted on November 25, 2002, and HSPD-5 [February 28, 2003] and was thus a major Goal for DHS to accomplish. With its constant revisions and failure to integrate other strategies and plans it can now be concluded that that Goal was NOT met. Somewhat ironically, or perhaps even with elements of tragedy as experienced by NOLA, just as the Federal Response Plans issuance in May 1992 was soon calibrated by the reality of events of Hurricane Andrew in August 1992, the National Response Plan [widely reported to have been effective December 2004] made effective officially in April 2005 was shortly to be calibrated by the events of Hurricane Katrina. Homeland Security Presidential Directives HSPD 5 and 8 [issued fall 2003] reinforced the GOAL but again did not achieve the Goal of implementing these mandates. Implementation would of course have had to include extensive training and exercising in order for the NRP to achieve its purposes. FEMA has now contracted out a project to develop its “doctrines” with respect to its disaster operations. That efforts deliverables are due shortly. That effort is dominated by retired military officers. No known participation of STATE and LOCAL officials is part of the process.

In reality the foundation for an all-hazard civil response plan with military support had been in evolution since the administration of President Ronald Reagan. One key element of the evolution of the all-hazards planning concept had been FEMA’s National Security staff insisting on providing a separate National Security Emergency Plan throughout the early Reagan Administration. This backgrounder explains why that effort was eventually directed to incorporating into the Federal Response Plan issued in May 1992 all civil response elements for National Security Emergencies. The 1992 FRP contains a single paragraph concerning its application to National Security Emergencies. That term first appeared in EO 12472 and was defined in EO 12656 both of which are still extant. As always given the size of DOD resources the challenge to the civil agencies has been to effectively incorporate DOD support for civil agency programs, functions, and activities and not be overwhelmed or preempted by DOD at the same time.

The concept of a National Security Emergency Plan for large scale domestic catastrophic incidents/events was developed by National Security Council staff as early as 1983 and was derivative of early planning efforts mandated by the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950, Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress (hereinafter the “ FCDA”). That statute, which somewhat crudely tried to reconcile defense of the population from active warfare, both nuclear and conventional, mandated not only plans but a civil defense system that was to be implemented by those plans. Because the so-called Plan D and Plan Other than D was the end product, one to deal with nuclear warfare conducted at a strategic level and one to deal with conventional warfare, both classified and seldom shared with the State and Local governments, it was seen that some largely unclassified effort was needed to leverage state and local assets. President Eisenhower, when the Deputy Army Chief of Staff for Plans and in charge of war planning, had been attributed with saying “Planning is everything but the plan is nothing.”  A relatively recent comprehensive  discussion of civil emergency planning appears in “Facing the Unexpected-Disaster Preparedness and Response in the United States,” Kathleen J. Tierney, Michael L. Lindell, and Ronald W. Perry, Joseph Henry Press, Washington, D.C. (2001).  It is certain that planning, and the coordination, collaboration, and cooperation needed to produce any plan has been identified as a key element of preparedness. It is significant that planning alone is not equivalent to preparedness, which also includes the verification of capability of the elements of logistics, personnel, equipment, training and exercises.

A very brief background discussion of federal planning efforts for both mobilization of resources and response to domestic disasters and emergencies as well as preparedness for may be helpful. A draft chart of federal civil response efforts is available from the author of this technical bulletin upon request.

On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman in E.O. 10346 mandated that each federal department or agency should cooperate with the Federal Civil Defense Administration to prepare plans for providing its personnel, materials, facilities, and services during the existence of a Civil Defense Emergency (a term used in the FCDA).  It should be noted that authority for declaration of a Civil Defense Emergency lapsed in 1974. The plans were to be designed to include continuity of department and agency operations and coordination of such arrangements with other national, state, and local civil defense plans. No consolidated emergency response plan appeared until 1958, the initial National Civil Defense Plan (really a preparedness plan and not a response plan), and then with final issuance of a document signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 under the auspices of the Office of Emergency Preparedness (originally, the Office of Emergency Management in WWII, and then the Office of Emergency Planning (1958-61), and the Office of Emergency Preparedness (1962-73).  The 1964 OEP Plan [reviewed and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and available at assigned responsibilities to all the Federal departments and agencies without indicating what budget or resources were to be applied (a defect that still plagues the National Response Plan today.)

It should be noted that so-called Continuity of Government (COG) and resource mobilization plans were segregated by both funding and legal authority for their conduct as early as 1953. [No specific law or Executive Order mandates these functions although Section 404 of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended comes close and in addition the implications of such planning underlie the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended. That statute was recently extended for five years by the enactment of Public Law 111-67.]  For a discussion of civil and military COG planning see Paul Bracken, Command and Control (Yale University Press, 1983).  It should be noted that the bifurcated Constitutional role of the President, both as Commander-In-Chief and Chief Executive, have different requirements and nuances for development of COG systems and their implementation and operations. Additional civil government mobilization, including standby legislation (primarily the titles of the FCDA that lapsed in 1953 and the Defense Production Act of 1950) were incorporated in classified “Plan D” and “Other than D” to address nuclear attack related emergencies and conventional warfare.  These plans were never signed off by the President or officially approved by the Attorney General or subordinate units of the Department of Justice and formally reviewed for legality.  Telecommunications planning was also separately addressed as early as 1962. For a list of planning assignments as of 1962 see E.O. 11051 of September 27, 1962. That Executive Order was replaced by E.O. 11490 [1969].

Resource mobilization planning for a coordinated federal response to any national crisis was energized when on December 17, 1981, the President through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs signed a memorandum establishing the Emergency Preparedness Mobilization Board (hereinafter EMPB).  This action was taken in response to a Memorandum by Edwin Meese, III, then Counselor to the President and later Attorney General to Frank C. Carlucci, Secretary of Defense and Louis O. Guiffrida, Director of FEMA, dated May 26, 1981.

Two National Security Decisions (NSDD 30 “Managing Terrorist Incidents” April 10, 1982 and NSDD 47 “Emergency Mobilization Preparedness” July 22, 1982) were soon issued that established several fundamental principles.  All NSDD’s that are declassified in whole or in part can be found at the following URL:

First in the event of threatened or actual terrorist attacks lead agencies were designated by the Executive Order as responsible. Principally State Department was designated  for international terrorism incidents/events, Justice for domestic terrorism, and FEMA for response to consequences of actual domestic/events.  Second, the principal was established that even natural disasters could impact national security, and a single system was required for the national security community and its assets to respond. President Carter’s National Security Advisor when flying over the eruption of Mt. St. Helens with the President observed that a major earthquake impacting Silicon Valley could have vast national security impacts. President Carter order the NSC Advisor to prepare both a classified and unclassified analysis for him. The unclassified version was issued by FEMA as a FEMA document. Both were completed before January 1981 when Ronald Reagan became President. NSDD 47 in particular identified a large catastrophic earthquake (the placement of the principal research, development, and manufacturing capability of the nation for the technology sector in California was the specific catalyst) as potentially damaging national security.  It therefore concluded that a single response system was necessary and empowered the Emergency Preparedness Mobilization Board [EMPB] to design such as system. By 1985, in NSDD 188 the EMPB was disestablished having completed a plan of action.  It should be noted that the Los Angeles Olympics had energized the Department of Justice in the assigned lead role in domestic terrorism and DoJ was increasingly anxious to assert that role. The DoJ had created a concept called “Law Enforcement Emergencies” that was incorporated into the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1984 and is presently implanted in 28 CFR Part 65. Unfortunately, DoJ has not sought funding for implementation of that concept in annual appropriations requests.

In a memorandum dated September 15, 1987, signed by Frank C. Carlucci, Secretary of Defense, on behalf of the National Security Council, the President directed implementation of a national security emergency plan to replace obsolete plans and update standby documents, specifically draft Executive Orders, for various emergencies.

Because of differing coordination systems and mandates, on January 19, 1988, with Presidential approval, the Domestic Policy Council (after 15 months of effort) adopted a National System for Emergency Coordination (NSEC) to provide timely, effective, and coordinated assistance to States and local governments in extreme catastrophic technological, natural or other domestic disasters of national significance.

The NSEC created functional groups in (1) communications; (2) economic affairs; (3) energy; (4) human services; (5) transportation; and other functions as needed.  Confusingly, after establishing functional assignments, the system then adopted a lead Agency approach as follows:

(1)  Natural Disasters-FEMA;

(2)  Health or Medical-DHHS;

(3)  Terrorism (less Airborne Hijacking)-DOJ;

(4)  Accident at licensed nuclear power plant-NRC;

(5)  Nuclear Weapon, reactor facility accident-DOD or DOE (“owner”);

(6)  Environmental-EPA;

(7)  Transportation-DOT;

(8)  Economic disruption-Treasury;

(9)  Telecommunications-OSTP/NCS.

A system of appointment of a FCO (Federal Coordinating Officer) was also adopted with the FCO to be from the lead agency.

On April 27, 1988, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Colin l. Powell, assigned seven national security priorities to the civil agencies with the third highest priority the preparation of a National Security Emergency Plan to encompass both mobilization and response.  In a memorandum to the President on June 27, 1988, the Secretary of Defense committed to full DOD support to the civil emergency planning process, including mobilization, continuity of government (the role of the President as Chief Executive (civil authority) as juxtaposed with that of Commander-In-Chief (military), and when assigned DOD support to civil agency response planning.

On June 27, 1988, the same day that the Secretary of Defense was pledging renewed cooperation in NSEP (National Security Emergency Preparedness Planning) to the President, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Colin L. Powell, directed that an analogous system for responding to large-scale emergencies that could adversely affect national security be created.  The Powell memorandum directed that a National Security Emergency Plan be created with a functionally oriented structure as a companion approach to the Plan for a Federal Response to a Catastrophic Earthquake (adopted in 1987 and predecessor to the Federal Response Plan) that had been mandated in the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977.

Until the promulgation of E.O. 12656, “Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities” on November 18, 1988, [superseding EO 11490 (1969) efforts to create a National Security Emergency Plan continued. At that point the assignment of lead and support functions to the departments and agencies in the Order led to substantial fragmentation of various planning efforts and the hope of unified NSEP died.  Interestingly, when offered the lead role on “terrorism” in EO 12656, DoJ insisted instead on being in a support role to other agencies.

It should also be noted that on November 23, 1988, DOD was authorized by statute to act on behalf of the President for a period of up to 10 days when a disaster is imminent (prior to declaration) in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Pub.L.100-707. Of some interest is the DOD but not FEMA was mentioned in the original enactment of the Stafford Act [it should be noted that the Stafford Act modified and supplemented the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, with both codified at 42 U.S.C. Sections 5121 et seq.) Perhaps of some interest is that multiple efforts to amend the Stafford Act to specifically cover acts of terrorism have not succeeded.

It soon became evident that both for natural disasters and national security emergency events, a functional approach indicated substantial overlap in planning and plans.  A concept implied in NSDD 47 in 1982.  Because of progress in turning the Earthquake Plan into a Natural Hazards Response Plan (eventually the Federal Response Plan) the concept of a separate NSEP was dropped. (Separate COG and telecommunications plans remain, while Mobilization (resource preparedness) plans for the civil agencies with the exception of Defense Production Act authorities have ended (both Clinton and Bush administrations had no interest in mobilization of national resources for national needs. What is important to note is that NO governor ever considers that his/her needs at the STATE level will NOT be provided by the federal government when State and Local resources are exhausted or ineffective. For an example indicating the accuracy of this statement you can review Executive Order 12657 issued November 18. 1988. Executive Orders for each of the President’s may be found at the website of the National Archives and Records Administration, specifically

CONCLUSION:  To make sure that at least one basic principle of federal organization for emergency response is made clear to readers of this paper, an overarching principle of the federal executive branch organizations, including DOD and the Armed Forces, is that with very few exceptions each of these organizations is primary lead responsible for incidents/events on their own facilities even though such incidents and events may impact the civilian population of the United States in a catastrophic fashion. The NRF and its predecessors have a patent defect in the opinion of the author of this technical bulletin in that it does not make clear that it has NO application to these federal facilities and bases.  Thus, the thrust of civil emergency planning to date has been exclusive of issues arising from the immensely difficult issue of the disaster potential of federal facilities.


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One Response to Military Civil relations and Domestic Crisis Management!

  1. wastewater1 says:

    The clock is ticking and so many are indifferent or oblivious of the calamity awaiting us unless we embrace an expeditious response to the prerequisite planning requirements which most of us believed were in place. Whether detailed implementatioon planning for community or federal facilities, We should be outraged and alaarmed by the blatant failure to be prepared for the worst scenarios….We are so, so unprepared and there are far too many political appointees at DHS and FEMA and far too little federal funds supporting our esteemed first responders!

    Christopher Tingus
    PO Box 1612
    Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645

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