Domestic support operations are not new. They had their beginning with settlement of the new world and organization of the colonial militia. With the establishment of the United States and a federal military, the Army routinely provided support to state and territorial governors as the nation expanded westward. In some instances, it actually administered governmental affairs until the fledgling local government became a viable entity.
Congress has determined and the National Command Authorities have directed that the military should become more engaged in supporting domestic needs. In addition, the National Security Strategy "Domestic Imperative" affirmed that national security must be viewed in the context of the nation's well-being.
Acknowledging the inherent capabilities the Army possesses for supporting federal, state, and local governments, the Congress has passed numerous laws providing for domestic military support. These laws recognize that the National Guard, while in state status, has primary responsibility for providing initial support when military assistance is required. They also institutionalize interdepartmental and interagency coordination/planning, linking it to the national strategy.
Commanders should anticipate requirements to provide emergency assistance and use domestic support opportunities to enhance unit and individual wartime skills. The Army, particularly the National Guard and Army Reserve, with its extensive combat support and combat service support (CS/CSS) structure, is ideally equipped to assist civil authorities in a wide variety of missions that fall into four general categories: disaster assistance, environmental assistance, law enforcement support, and community assistance.
Although the frequency of domestic support operations may increase, they are not in lieu of wartime operational requirements. The Army's primary mission remains to defend the United States and its interests. It is the Army's combat readiness that enables it to accomplish domestic support operations.
This manual provides specific guidelines and operational principles in the conduct of domestic support operations. It emphasizes the utilization of the Army's core combat competencies and values to enhance combat readiness and the overall well-being of the nation.