Source: Public Intelligence
For the last two years, the President’s Budget Submissions for the Department of Defense have included purchases of a significant amount of combat equipment, including armored vehicles, helicopters and even artillery, under an obscure section of the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the purposes of “homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and providing military support to civil authorities.” Items purchased under the section include combat vehicles, tanks, helicopters, artillery, mortar systems, missiles, small arms and communications equipment. Justifications for the budget items indicate that many of the purchases are part of routine resupply and maintenance, yet in each case the procurement is cited as being “necessary for use by the active and reserve components of the Armed Forces for homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and providing military support to civil authorities” under section 1815 of the FY2008 NDAA.
Section 1815 of the FY2008 NDAA requires that every five years the Secretary of Defense work with the Secretary of Homeland Security to determine “military-unique capabilities needed to be provided by the Department of Defense to support civil authorities in an incident of national significance or a catastrophic incident.” The section defines “military-unique capabilities” as those that “cannot be provided by other Federal, State, or local civilian agencies” and are “essential to provide support to civil authorities in an incident of national significance or a catastrophic incident.” Once these “military-unique capabilities” have been determined in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Defense must develop a plan for maintaining the capabilities as well as any “additional capabilities determined by the Secretary to be necessary to support the use of the active components and the reserve components of the Armed Forces for homeland defense missions, domestic emergency responses, and providing military support to civil authorities.” Once the plan is enacted the DoD must then “include in the materials accompanying the budget submitted for each fiscal year a request for funds necessary to carry out the plan . . . during the fiscal year covered by the budget.”
Subsection (e) of section 1815 of the FY2008 NDAA also modifies the official roles and responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense stated in 10 USC § 113 to indicate that “with the approval of the President and after consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” the Secretary is responsible for providing “written policy guidance for the preparation and review of contingency plans, including plans for providing support to civil authorities in an incident of national significance or a catastrophic incident, for homeland defense, and for military support to civil authorities.” This guidance will be provided “every two years or more frequently as needed and shall include guidance on the specific force levels and specific supporting resource levels projected to be available for the period of time for which such plans are to be effective.”
Origins of §1815 of the FY2008 NDAA
Section 1815 of the FY2008 NDAA is the result of recommendations made by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves (CNGR), a 13-member independent commission created by Congress in 2004. In their final report published in 2008, the CNGR describes section 1815 as a way of prioritizing domestic support missions within the military, allowing DoD to explicitly budget for resources needed in providing military support to civil authorities. The final report of the CNGR describes the Department of Homeland Security as “the federal agency with the most comprehensive national perspective on the response capabilities present in federal, state, and local government” placing it in the “best position to generate civil support requirements.”
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