Figure 5-A.



The American people have come to expect Army support during times of critical need. Combat readiness, combined with organizational mobility, permits the Army to respond rapidly to crisis situations. This chapter describes how the Army provides support to federal, state, and local civil authorities during disasters and domestic emergencies.


The National Guard has primary responsibility for providing military assistance to its state.

A fundamental principle for employing military resources is recognizing that civil authorities have the primary authority and responsibility for disaster assistance. The National Guard, in state active duty status, has primary responsibility for providing military disaster assistance in its state. The Army, as part of DOD, plays a supporting role to lead civil agencies during domestic emergencies.

As the DOD executive agent, the Secretary of the Army--through his Army Staff agent, the Director of Military Support--has both the responsibility and the authority to task the services, defense agencies, and the CINCs to support other federal, state, or local agencies. The SA will coordinate the commitment of unified and specified command forces with the CJCS. The chain of command is depicted at Figure 5-1.


A federal disaster is any event, either natural or man-made, whose severity or magnitude overwhelms the capabilities of local and state authorities to respond. Examples of natural disasters are hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and fires. Hazardous chemical spills, radiological accidents, and massive electrical power disruptions are typical man-made disasters.

Each state has a plan and an Office of Emergency Services, or similar agency, that is responsible to the governor for coordinating its disaster response efforts. Local emergency organizations will be the first to provide disaster relief assistance; next are state organizations, including the state NG.

Prior to or immediately following a disaster, the state will activate an Emergency Operations Center to gather information, assess damage, and advise the governor. The state OES, through its EOC, coordinates the local and state disaster response operations. The state's adjutant general and NG also play key roles in disaster assistance.


When the severity of a situation exceeds local and state capabilities, the governor can request that the President declare a disaster, leading to the commitment of federal resources. At that time, the FEMA takes the lead in coordinating federal assistance. The FEMA coordinates the federal government's response to state and local authorities for disasters and civil emergencies under the authority and provisions of The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. While the FEMA is the lead federal agency in most disasters, the DOE has the lead for civil radiological emergencies, and the EPA and the USCG share responsibility for chemical contaminations.

Regardless of the disaster scenario, DOD can expect to support the lead federal agency. The SA will issue an Execute Order, coordinated with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Joint Staff, through the DOMS to the appropriate CINCs, services, and agencies. The Execute Order will designate a supported CINC and specify the supporting CINCs, services, and agencies as well as the command relationships. The Army has designated CINCFOR as the DOD operating agent and the supported CINC for CONUS disaster assistance operations. CINCLANT and CINCPAC are operating agents and supported CINCs for US states, territories, and possessions within their respective areas of operations.

Figure 5-1. Chain of Command

The CINC will appoint a defense officer to coordinate all requests for military assistance.

After declaring an emergency or disaster, the President will appoint an FCO to manage the federal assistance efforts under provisions of the FRP. The FRP addresses disaster or emergency situations in which federal response assistance is needed under the authority of The Stafford Act. The plan describes basic mechanisms and structures by which the federal government mobilizes resources and conducts activities to augment state and local response efforts. The defense coordinating officer, appointed by the supported CINC, serves as the principal DOD point of contact for military support. The decision sequence for disaster support is illustrated at Figure 5-2.


Military commanders may act before a Presidential declaration when an immediate life-threatening situation develops. When a disaster or emergency is imminent and awaiting instructions from higher authority--military or civil--would preclude responding effectively, military commanders may act. They may do what is required to save lives, alleviate human suffering, and mitigate major property damage within the proximity of their installations.

Figure 5-2. Decision Sequence for Disaster Support

Military commanders may act before a Presidential declaration when an immediate life-threatening situation develops.

Commanders may use immediate response authority to assist in the rescue, evacuation, and emergency treatment of casualties; to restore emergency medical capabilities; and to safeguard public health. They may also provide essential public services and utilities. This list is not inclusive. Commanders use their assessment of mission requirements and the capabilities of their commands to judge the extent of immediate assistance they choose to provide.

Immediate response is a short-term emergency supplement to government authorities. It does not supplant established Army plans for supporting civil authorities, nor does it take precedence over a primary mission. Commanders notify their senior commanders and seek guidance for continuing assistance whenever Army resources are committed under immediate response circumstances. Immediate assistance is given with the understanding that its costs will be reimbursed; however, it should not be delayed or denied when the requestor is unable to make a commitment to reimburse.

When the President determines federal assistance will be provided in response to a natural or man-made disaster, the military commander will continue to provide immediate response assistance. He will adjust operations to conform with the tasks assigned by his higher headquarters, within the FRP.


Commanders can best prepare for disaster assistance operations by understanding the appropriate laws, policies, and directives that govern the military in these emergencies. The military's role is well-defined and by law is limited in scope and duration. Military resources temporarily support and augment--they do not replace--the local, state, and federal civilian agencies that have primary authority and responsibility for domestic disaster assistance.

The military does not stockpile resources solely for domestic disaster assistance. Disaster planning and coordination must occur between the appropriate agencies at the appropriate levels, for example, between DOMS and FEMA, between CINCs and CONUSA, between the federal, state, and regional agencies.

The Army's structure and training in command and control, deployability, and sustainment operations offer ready and robust capabilities for disaster assistance support. Those same skills that soldiers and leaders use day to day often translate to the types of tasks required during disasters.

Domestic disaster operations are normally conducted in stages: response, recovery, and restoration. The role of the military is most intense in the response stage, decreasing steadily as the operation moves into the recovery and restoration stages.

Response operations focus on those life-sustaining functions required by the population in the disaster area. Recovery operations begin the process of returning the community infrastructure and services (both municipal and commercial) to a status that satisfies the needs of the population. Restoration is a long-term process that returns the community to predisaster normalcy. While the military has an important role in the relief and recovery stages, restoration is primarily a civilian responsibility. Military forces will redeploy as operations transition from the response and recovery stage to the restoration stage. The overlap of military support and effort during the three stages is depicted in Figure 5-3.


Assessment is a fundamental task for providing effective disaster assistance. The assessment process requires the integration and analysis of information from many different sources. This process is not exclusively a DOD responsibility. It is first and foremost a local and state agency task. Federal agencies, including DOD, assist and cooperate in the informationgathering and assessment process.

Laws limit the types and ways military agencies can gather information in domestic situations. Commanders must ensure that all requests for information, both before and during a domestic emergency, comply with the applicable laws and are handled in the appropriate military channels.

Responsibility for assessments is shared by federal, state, local, and military agencies. When a disaster occurs the damage and the anticipated military support requirements must be assessed before resources are committed. This ensures that the committed resources and forces will be appropriate for the mission and that they will be used efficiently.

The earliest information needed for the assessment process is the impact on the population, available critical infrastructure facilities, and any serious environmental hazards. Because saving lives is an immediate priority within the first 72 hours, especially in US&R operations, collapsed or badly damaged buildings that may contain trapped people must be identified. Mobile home communities, if not evacuated prior to the disaster, are especially vulnerable and likely to contain injured people. The status of the road and rail systems, airports, and seaports must be determined. Identifying major fires, hazardous chemical spills, ruptured petroleum and natural gas pipelines, and downed electrical power lines--especially in populated areas--is a priority. Also essential is determining the status of local emergency services; police, firefighters, and health service providers.

As the federal relief effort escalates, including the deployment and employment of federal military resources in the disaster area, critical relief facilities must be made operational and accessible. These facilities include municipal offices, hospitals, water treatment plants, ice manufacturing and storage plants, electrical power stations or lines, and telecommunications nodes. Sites for the emergency shelter, feeding, and medical treatment of displaced civilians must be identified and prepared. These life support centers will be required within the first few days after a disaster. Sites for the reception, storage, and distribution of supplies in the affected area must be identified.

Figure 5-3. Military Stages and Levels of Effort

Terminating Support

The military's role in disaster assistance must end as soon as practical. The ultimate task of the federal disaster response effort is to assist the local community in returning to a normal, predisaster status. Consequently, the military should expect to be heavily committed during the response phase of the operation, and progressively less during the recovery phase. As a principle, the military does not compete with civilian commercial enterprises. As a commercial enterprise becomes more available in the community, the military's provision of support and services can diminish.

The military's role in disaster assistanceoperations must be transferred to civilian organizations as soon as practical.

Disaster assistance operations require that end states or conditions be established to mark the completion of disaster assistance missions. Conditions must be definable and attainable. End states must be developed from the highest (national) perspective to the lowest county and municipal levels. They must provide a road map that can be followed by all government and nongovernment agencies involved. The affected population must know when military operations will cease and local support organizations are to continue the mission. Mission success will be tied directly to the military's ability to accomplish specific end-state objectives.

In conjunction with federal, state, and local officials, commanders at all levels must understand the desired community objectives or goals. They will affect the termination standards for the military as well as other federal agencies. The return to normalcy requires a progressive downsizing of the military's role.

Termination standards, which are established in coordination with the FCO and state and local authorities, must be clearly stated and understood by all. They can usually be expressed in terms of percentage of predisaster capability by specific function, for example, 70 percent of electrical power restored. In an operation such as disaster assistance, redeployment of forces becomes a sensitive issue since it can create misperceptions and anxiety in the population with respect to sustained support needed and the ability of local government and contractors to handle the support as federal forces are withdrawn.

The criteria for mission success and completion must be defined, articulated, and disseminated as soon as possible. Civil authorities and Army personnel should know when the operation has reached completion or when Army assets will be withdrawn. It is important to understand that the mission may not be fully complete from the civilian authorities' perspective. Army support may have to be replaced by civilian assets and local support organizations, which will continue the restoration mission. Mission success should be directly proportional to the military's ability to accomplish specific milestones. Planners need to identify these milestones in their functional areas and use them, when accomplished, to reduce further military support requirements. These norms should be coordinated and validated for each of the possible missions, operations, and activities.


The Army and the DOD most often provide disaster assistance to other agencies in accordance with the FRP. This plan describes how the federal government responds to a declared disaster. When the plan is fully implemented, DOD and 26 other federal agencies provide support. The FRP groups disaster assistance into 12 functional areas called emergency support functions. During disaster response operations, some or all of these ESFs may be activated. The FRP assigns responsibility for each of the ESFs to a lead agency based on that agency's authority or capability. Each ESF will also have assigned supporting agencies. DOD has been designated the lead federal agency for ESF 3, Public Works and Engineering, and ESF 9, Urban Search and Rescue; a supporting agency in the remaining ten. Consequently, the Army may have resources committed in all 12 ESFs. The FRP emergency support assignment matrix is at Figure 5-4.

Figure 5-4. Emergency Support Assignment Matrix

Public Works and Engineering

Public works and engineering support includes technical advice and evaluations, engineering services, potable water, construction management and inspection, emergency contracting, emergency repair of waste water and solid waste facilities, and real estate support. Activities within the scope of this ESF include emergency clearance of debris, temporary construction of emergency access routes, emergency restoration of critical public services and facilities, emergency demolition or stabilization of damaged structures and facilities, technical assistance and damage assessment, and support to other ESFs. The USACE is DOD's operating agent for planning, preparedness, and response operations for this ESF.

Urban Search and Rescue

US&R activities include locating, extricating, and providing for the immediate medical treatment of victims trapped in collapsed structures. Designated operating agents for US&R in their respective areas of operation are the CINCFOR, the CINCLANT, and the CINCPAC. The DOMS will designate the appropriate operating agent as supported CINC.

The supported CINC will coordinate federal US&R operations and employ one or more task forces to conduct "light" (wood frame-type structures) US&R. The supported CINC will also manage military support for civilian US&R task forces. FEMA-sponsored teams provide the necessary expertise and equipment for "heavy" (masonry/concrete and steel, multistory structures) US&R. The USACE has structural specialists trained to assist in US&R. Transportation, medical, billeting, and maintenance are the types of support that civilian US&R teams may require.

Support to Other ESFs

DOD support to other ESFs may come from one of two sources. First, when the primary agency for an ESF determines that it requires support or resources from outside its own agency, that agency may coordinate its requirements with the FEMA through its regional and national headquarters. The FEMA will then determine how to provide the required support or resources from any nationwide source. DOD, a designated supporting agency, may be tasked. Second, an FCO may task DOD to provide the required support or resources from military assets already within the disaster area or available through DOD channels. The FCO gets this support through coordination with the defense coordinating officer.



An affected state or area will receive federal assistance through the management of FEMA and the overall coordination of an FCO, usually the FEMA regional director. The FCO is the on-scene commander for all federal resources supporting local and state authorities in the assistance effort.


In the field, the DCO, appointed by the supported CINC, is the central point of contact to the FCO and ESF managers for all requests for military support. At the discretion of the CINC, the DCO may assume control of all federal military units involved in a disaster. The DCO's expertise and constant liaison with the FCO, local officials, and other ESF managers are critical to the effective coordination and integration of the federal and state disaster assistance efforts. Traditionally, CINCFOR has tasked the CONUSAs to plan for disasters and domestic emergencies and to appoint DCOs following a disaster declaration. The DCO supervises the DCE, a staff that can support both the administrative and the ESF functional areas for all coordination and decisions.


As the governor's representative, the SCO is responsible for emergency management, disaster response, and recovery activities. The SCO is the primary point of contact for the FCO in facilitating disaster assistance. The STARC has developed disaster emergency plans in coordination with other state and local agencies. The STARC and the DCO will establish liaison so that local, state, and federal activities can be coordinated and managed effectively. The STARC can assist the federal forces with contracting support as well as logistical support from Guard resources not otherwise committed.


Military support to civil authorities in disasters and domestic emergencies is a DOD, not a service component responsibility. The supported CINC may decide that the severity and scope of a disaster require a joint response. In disaster assistance, as in operational level warfighting, the CINC uses the different and complementary capabilities of each service to accomplish the mission. Such use requires knowledge of both the capability and the availability of all service component assets, to include their agencies and installations.

The CINC may establish a joint task force to provide comprehensive military support.

Establishing a JTF may provide the best DOD response in a disaster. The DOD's response lo Hurricanes Andrew and Iniki in 1992 demonstrated that a JTF is effective in providing the comprehensive support needed in most catastrophic situations. A JTF is established to execute a specific mission limited in scope and duration. The JTF's objective in a disaster is to deploy forces to the disaster area rapidly, to assist immediately in saving lives and safeguarding property, and to continue providing assistance required by the FRP and the particular situation.

The CINC has the authority to determine the command relationship between the DCO and JTF commander. The DCO serves as the DOD's central point of contact for all requests from the FCO and ESF managers for military support. If the size of the JTF expands and the CINC decides to designate another, more senior officer as the JTF commander, the DCO becomes a special staff officer for the JTF commander.

The JTF is configured for each specific mission. In disasters, the JTF may require a greater proportion of combat service-support-type units and capabilities than in typical warfighting deployments. The JTF must be able to provide emergency assistance across all lines of support. All classes of supply and all types of services may be required. Because DOD has a supporting responsibility in all ESFs, close cooperation between the JTF and all other ESF agencies is required through the FCO, DCO, and state emergency structure. Command relationships between these authorities and organizations are illustrated at Figure 5-5.

When Typhoon Omar struck the American territory of Guam in August 1992, the CINCPAC appointed the Commander, Naval Forces Marianas (COMNAVMAR), as the DCO and the JTF commander. In response to Hawaii's Hurricane Iniki less than one month later, the CINCPAC appointed the Commander, US Army, Pacific (USARPAC), as Commander, JTF Hawaii and the DCO.

The military has been involved in such diverse disaster relief activities as the preparation and distribution of food, removal of debris and garbage, restoration of electrical power and water systems, management of donated goods and services, and establishment of life support centers that provide shelter, security, medical care, counseling, bath and laundry, and recreation activities. The JTF commander may establish joint cells to manage specific functional or technical areas, such as a joint movement center.



Civil defense emergencies result from the devastation following an enemy attack, although they may be proclaimed by appropriate authority in anticipation of an enemy attack. Specific plans and orders at the appropriate command levels provide general guidance for responding to an enemy attack. Local Army commanders are authorized to respond to civil defense emergencies under immediate response and to deal with immediate emergency conditions that would be created by such attacks or disasters.

In the event of an attack on the US, the scope of military support to the civil authorities in each affected area would depend on the requirements of military operations, the extent of damage sustained in the civilian community, and the status and reconstitution priorities of the active and reserve component forces. The Army National Guard STARC, when ordered to federal service, will become the DOD's focal point for providing military assistance at the state and local levels. CONUSA commanders must coordinate the response to these civil emergencies with the STARCs.


DOD may be called on to support other federal agencies during major environmental disasters. For example, the DOE has responsibility for civil radiological emergencies and the EPA and USCG share responsibility for chemical contamination accidents, such as major oil spills. The FEMA may also be involved in a complementary role, managing federal relief operations associated with a disaster. Regardless of the disaster scenario, the Army and DOD should expect to provide military support appropriate to the nature of the disaster and the needs of the people affected.

Figure 5-5. Command Relationships


The DOD may be called on to provide support to the DOJ and its INS. The DOJ is the lead federal agency; INS is its action agency. In the event of an immigration emergency, the SA is the DOD executive agent, DOMS the action agent. The DOD may be tasked to assist in the reception, processing, transportation, and detention of the immigrants. DOD installations and facilities may be required to house immigrants for extended periods of time. These installations may have to provide a full range of services, either by DOD or by contracted agencies. Even on DOD installations and facilities, however, the DOJ and INS have the primary responsibility for the legal processing, custody, and eventual deportation or resettlement of the immigrants.

During Operation Provide Refuge in February 1993, a task force from the 25th Infantry Division provided security and humanitarian assistance to 535 Chinese nationals who attempted to illegally enter the United States. The Chinese were fed, clothed, and housed in a US facility on Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, until the People's Republic of China agreed to their repatriation.


The DOD receives many diverse missions requiring military assistance to civil authorities. They include planning to use DOD personnel in the event of a large disruption to US mail service and air traffic control assistance in the event of a federal air traffic controller strike. The type and level of military support will be as diverse as the missions. The general concepts, principles, and guidelines for disasters, emergencies, and other assistance operations may be useful to Army commanders located OCONUS, but are subject to applicable CINC guidelines and host nation laws and agreements.

Guardsman in Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin were called up in Operation Hayliff to deliver relief to farmers throughout the southeast during the drought of 1987.


The Army and the Department of Defense provide military support to civil authorities, especially in disaster assistance operations. DOD is a supporting agency, providing military support to other lead federal agencies. The SA is DOD's executive agent, and the DOMS is the SA's agent for disaster assistance support. In most cases, the Army wil participate in disaster assistance operations as part of a DOD effort managed by the DOMS serving as a joint staff and commanded by a supported CINC. The Army is committed to providing timely and effective disaster assistance support to other federal agencies and the American people.