Dsca Mission Assignment Processing

Defining Your Country’s Requirements

Your government determines its security objectives based on its own unique situation and priorities. This typically involves conducting an assessment of your strategic and operational needs and capabilities, and then identifying specific items or training your country must acquire to close or narrow the gap between your defense needs and your existing capabilities.

If you would like the U.S. to assist in the conduct of an assessment - or any part of an assessment - you can contact the SCO in your country, the appropriate MILDEP Country Manager, or the DSCA Country Program Director. Any one of them can arrange for you to meet with U.S. experts to discuss requirements, constraints, timelines, and potential options. If needed, we can also arrange more extensive and specialized assistance such as survey teams. These activities can help inform the request your government ultimately submits to the USG. They can save you considerable time; they help ensure your staff and leadership fully understand all of the technical and programmatic issues involved with the proposed acquisition; and they make sure your country gets the best solution (weapons, services, training, construction, etc.) to match your operational requirement and budget. If your country requires extensive assistance, the USG may request that you open an FMS case to cover the cost.

The Letter of Request (LOR)

Although we recommend opening a dialogue with the U.S. DoD as soon as you identify a need for a particular capability, the action that formally begins the FMS process is your LOR.

If you are sending the LOR from your home country and have questions about how to prepare it, your first contact should be with the SCO for your country. SCO personnel understand the FMS process and can be a valuable source of information and advice. If you do not know whether you have a SCO in your country, you can easily find out by contacting the U.S. Embassy.

You may also refer questions to your DSCA Country Program Director or to the appropriate Implementing Agency, especially if you work from your embassy in Washington D.C., or from a liaison office located in the United States.

There is no set format for an LOR. It can be a formal letter, an e-mail, or even a verbal request from a recognized official representative of your government. There are three general types of LORs:

  1. LOR for Price and Availability (P&A). These LORs are used by foreign customers to obtain basic information for further planning. In the LOR for P&A, you describe your requirement in as much detail as you have, and the USG replies with a rough estimate of the cost of the items and/or services you are interested in and an estimate of how long it would take the USG to deliver the item and/or service. It normally takes a MILDEP or other Implementing Agency about 45 days to respond to an LOR for P&A. It is important to keep in mind that P&A responses are Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) estimates only. They do not constitute a commitment by the USG, and the data is used only for estimating P&A. If you decide to move to the next step and request an official government-to-government agreement, the MILDEP or other Implementing Agency will conduct a much more refined analysis resulting in a more accurate estimate for that agreement.

  2. LOR for a government-to-government Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA). The submission of this type of LOR is viewed by the USG as an official expression of interest by your country, prompting the appropriate MILDEP or other Implementing Agency to develop the government-to-government LOA detailing the defense equipment and/or services the USG will provide and a “best-estimate” cost to you, the customer. Very often, a country will submit an LOR for P&A, and then, once the general cost and delivery schedule is understood, follow with an LOR for LOA.

  3. LOR for a change to an already existing LOA. LORs are also used when you wish to request an Amendment or Modification to an existing LOA for which an FMS case has already been implemented. We will discuss Amendments and Modifications in more detail later in this guide.

LOR Guidance

Although there is no set format for an LOR, it needs to provide sufficient detail to allow a prompt and accurate response from the USG. SAMM Section C5.1.2. lists the minimum information that needs to be included in an LOR and SAMM Table C5.T3. describes the evaluation criteria the USG uses when determining whether or not a LOR contains all of the needed information. Appendix 1 of this guide provides additional information your government should consider when drafting an LOR.

While formal action must wait for receipt of a LOR, we encourage you to discuss complex LORs with the intended Implementing Agency prior to actually submitting the LOR to the USG. The Implementing Agency can assist you in developing or clarifying requirements. This helps ensure the LOR will request the equipment and services that will best meet your needs. Even if your country is very familiar with the FMS system, and has a clear understanding of your own equipment or training requirements, it would still be beneficial to contact the appropriate Implementing Agency prior to submitting your LOR since there could be any number of events on the U.S. side that might impact your FMS purchase, such as projected U.S. lot buys of the same item, planned upgrades, changes in contractors or subcontractors, or upcoming production line closures.

Requests that originate from within your country must be transmitted to the U.S. either by an authorized representative of your government or by the U.S. military representative at the U.S. Embassy in your country. LORs should be sent to the appropriate U.S. Implementing Agency and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) Operations Directorate. A list of all Implementing Agencies that process LORs, to include mailing addresses, is in SAMM Table C5.T2.

A more detailed guide to preparing LORs is available at Appendix 1 of this guide.

Each LOR is reviewed and validated by the MILDEP or other Implementing Agency and by DSCA to ensure that the prospective FMS purchaser is eligible, that the defense articles/services may be sold, that the request originated from a recognized official representative of your government, and that the LOR is clear and complete.

The Implementing Agency is responsible for taking action on your LOR. Based on your request the Implementing Agency will normally prepare one of the following:

  1. A Price and Availability (P&A) response

  2. A government-to-government Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA)

  3. An amendment to an LOA (if you’ve requested a change or addition to an existing LOA)

  4. A lease

For the purposes of this guide, we will assume that a new LOA is the most appropriate response to your request - therefore, the following USG actions would be taken:

  1. We will acknowledge receipt: Within five days of receipt of a valid LOR, the U.S. Implementing Agency will acknowledge receipt.

  2. We may request more information: If information is unclear or is missing from your LOR, the Implementing Agency will contact you to obtain the missing information so that the LOR will be “complete”, meaning it contains enough information for the Implementing Agency to provide a response. While it may be possible to continue limited processing of some portions of the request, a response from the USG may be delayed until the information is provided or the request amended.

  3. We will assign an FMS case identifier: An FMS case identifier is assigned to each LOR. A case identifier consists of a Country Code, the code of the Implementing Agency developing your FMS case, and a unique three-position FMS case designator. For example, “BN-B-UXP” is an FMS case for Bandaria (“BN”-an imaginary country) being prepared by the U.S. Army (“B” is the Implementing Agency code for the U.S. Army). The “UXP” is a unique code assigned to your FMS case for the defense item, service, or training you have requested.

  4. We will assign an FMS Case Manager: An FMS Case Manager is assigned to every FMS case and is responsible for ensuring that the FMS case meets your requirements as identified in your LOR. The FMS Case Manager acts as the coordinator for both development of the FMS case and the subsequent “execution,” or performance of the FMS case. If you have questions about the progress of your FMS case, they should be directed to the appropriate FMS Case Manager. DSCA has assigned a Country Program Director (CPD) for each country and the Implementing Agency may also assign a Country Program Director for your programs. You may also contact these Program Directors if you have questions concerning the progress of your FMS case.

  5. We will review the request to determine if there are any releasability issues: Part of the USG review process involves determining if the technology involved is releasable for export. The releasability review takes place for both government-to-government FMS and for DCS that are directly negotiated between your country and a specific U.S. manufacturer. If the sale involves a system with technology that has not been previously approved for export to your country, this process will generally take longer than if the system has previously been reviewed and approved for export to your country. The DoD reviews each proposed sale or transfer of defense items or services and then provides a recommendation to the DOS. But only the DOS - not the DoD - has authority under U.S. law to approve the sale or transfer to a foreign country. Because there can be so many variables involved, it is often difficult to estimate with accuracy the amount of time a technology release review will take but, generally speaking, if sensitive technologies are involved, the sooner you can begin a dialogue with the Implementing Agency, the better.

  6. We will notify the U.S. Congress, if necessary: If a potential sale exceeds certain dollar thresholds, U.S. law requires that the sale be approved by the U.S. Congress prior to the USG offering an LOA to the requesting country. A complete list of Congressional Notification requirements can be found at SAMM Section C5.T13. In general, the thresholds are:

     NATO (+5)*All Other Countries

    Major Defense Equipment (MDE)

    $25 million

    $14 million


    $100 million

    $50 million


    $300 million

    $200 million

    * “+5” = Australia, Israel, Japan, South Korea & New Zealand

MDE means any item in the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) on the U.S. Munitions List (USML) that:

  1. Warrants special export controls (we call these items Significant Military Equipment (SME)) and mark them with an asterisk in the USML; and

  2. That have a nonrecurring Research and Development cost of $50 million or more or a total production cost of $200 million or more.

A list of MDE is contained in Appendix 1 of the SAMM. This notification process must be completed before the LOA can be formally offered to your country for consideration. When the official notification of a sale has been made to the U.S. Congress, this information is posted to the “Major Arms Sales” page of the DSCA Web Site.

The formal Congressional Notification period is 30 days (15 days for NATO (+5)), meaning that if no Congressional objection is raised prior to expiration of the 30-day period the sale may go forward. This does not include the 10-20 days the Implementing Agency and DSCA take to prepare the notification and coordinate it with the DOS. Lastly, in order for formal notification to occur, Congress (both the House and the Senate) must be in session for at least one day during the formal notification period.  The SAMM provides a more thorough discussion of Congressional notification requirements and process at SAMM Section C5.5.


This lesson provides emergency managers with an overview of the incident response process from the local response to a Presidential declaration and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) response. The lesson also covers the types of military response available, with a focus on military forces disaster response. Understanding these concepts will assist emergency managers as they proceed through the rest of the course.

Objective: At the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Describe the command relationships of local, tribal, state, and Federal incident response assets, including state and Federal military resources supporting civilian authorities.
  • Describe the types of military response available to states.
  • Describe the representatives, authorities, and assignments involved in a Federal military forces disaster response.

This lesson should take approximately 45 minutes to complete.

Note: Before taking this lesson, it is recommended that participants complete the following FEMA courses: IS-100, IS-200, IS-700, and IS-800.

Incident Response Process: Overview

The typical incident response begins with first responders at the local level. Occasionally, local emergency managers must request assistance from regional and/or state response organizations, including the National Guard. If the response is escalated to the Federal level, including a Presidential-declared major disaster or emergency declaration, DoD forces may be sent to the site to support civilian efforts.

Note: Remember, the DoD's primary mission is homeland security and homeland defense. Civil support is secondary.

To fully understand the operational environment presented by an incident, civilian emergency managers at the local, tribal, and state jurisdictional levels should understand roles and authorities pertaining to Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) and build relationships with military resources within their communities. At the same time, military leaders should understand the civilian incident management process. These preparations result in a smoother integration of military support and resources in support of civilian response and recovery efforts, should they be needed.

Note: In some states, the state emergency management office is part of the state's Military Department.

Incident Response Process: Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA)

By definition, DSCA is support provided in response to requests for assistance from civil authorities for special events, domestic emergencies, designated law enforcement support, and other domestic activities. These categories, in many cases, can overlap or be in effect simultaneously, depending on the particular circumstances of the incident. DSCA may be provided by U.S. Federal military forces, National Guard forces performing duty under Title 32, DoD civilians, DoD contract personnel, and/or DoD units.

All requests from civil authorities and qualifying entities for assistance shall be evaluated for:

  • Legality (compliance with laws)
  • Lethality (potential use of lethal force by or against DoD Forces)
  • Risk (safety of DoD Forces)
  • Cost (including the source of funding and the effect on the DoD budget)
  • Appropriateness (whether providing the requested support is in the interest of the Department)
  • Readiness (impact on the DoD's ability to perform its primary mission)

Ref: Department of Defense Directive (DoDD) 3025.18, December 29th, 2010

Incident Response Process: Levels of Response

The typical incident response begins with first responders at the local level since all incidents are local. Levels of response may include the following:

  • Local/Tribal
    Local response is the first tier in the incident management process, and it is local responders who will make the determination for expanding response. First responders are local emergency and related public safety discipline personnel (e.g., public works) who respond to an incident. From this group, generally the most experienced responder will take command as the Incident Commander (IC). He or she will remain the IC until voluntarily giving up command or being replaced by a more qualified individual.

    DoD can provide significant response at this level through immediate response authority or through mutual aid agreements. Immediate response authority is discussed later in this lesson.

    The United States recognizes the right of Native American tribes to self-govern. Tribal governments are responsible for coordinating resources to address actual or potential incidents. When local resources are not adequate, tribal leaders seek assistance from the state or Federal government. The tribe can elect to deal directly with the Federal government. Although a state governor must request a Presidential declaration under the Stafford Act on behalf of a tribe, Federal departments or agencies can work directly with the tribe within the existing authorities and resources.

    The Stafford Act is discussed later in this lesson.

  • Regional
    If first responders are unable to contain an incident at the scene, they may ask for assistance from the emergency managers located at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC, if activated, maintains a current operating picture and communications capability with internal and external resources. Thus, the EOC is able to take advantage of assets from throughout the jurisdiction to respond to the incident.

  • State
    Every state maintains an EOC that is activated as needed to support local EOCs and provide multi-agency coordination. When local jurisdictions cannot contain an incident, the governor can declare a state of emergency and invoke the state's emergency plan to increase individual and public resources as required. Under the Stafford Act, states are also responsible for requesting Federal emergency assistance for community governments within their jurisdiction.

    The State Coordinating Officer (SCO) plays a critical role in managing state response and recovery operations. As an incident escalates and a Stafford Act Presidential Disaster Declaration is provided, the SCO will work with the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) to create a plan for state requirements, including those that are beyond state capability.

    Should requirements exceed state response capabilities, the governor can request resources from other states through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).

  • Federal
    If requested resources are unavailable or requirements exceed capabilities, the governor may request Federal assistance. When an event causes damage, or is of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant Federal disaster assistance and such assistance is requested, the President may issue a major disaster or emergency declaration. If either declaration is issued, assistance is then made available under the Stafford Act.

A Presidential Major Disaster Declaration triggers long-term Federal recovery programs and response assets, some of which are matched by state programs and designed to help disaster survivors, businesses, and public entities. An Emergency Declaration is more limited in how it can help and does not include long-term Federal recovery programs of a Major Disaster Declaration.

Knowledge Check

While there are four levels of incident response, all incident response begins at the ___ level.

Feedback: The typical incident response begins with first responders at the local level, given that all incidents are local.

Knowledge Check

All requests from civil authorities and qualifying entities for assistance shall be evaluated based on a number of criteria, including:

Feedback: All requests from civil authorities and qualifying entities for assistance shall be evaluated for legality, lethality, risk, cost, appropriateness, and readiness. Ref: DoDD 3025.18, December 29th, 2010

Types of Military Response

Four main types of military response are available to states:

    1. Mutual Aid Assistance Agreements - Mutual aid assistance agreements exist between emergency responders to provide assistance across jurisdictional boundaries. Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) establish and arrange mutual aid assistance agreements.

      Examples of these agreements include:

      • Regional firefighting mutual aid agreements
        There are a multitude of local, tribal, regional, and state firefighting mutual aid agreements in place across the nation. The basic objective found within mutual aid agreements is to identify firefighting capabilities and organizations that may be brought in to a mutual agreement to provide firefighting services during incidents in which the agreeing parties' firefighting resources (or other emergency services) are overwhelmed (e.g., wildland fire, earthquake, major structural fire).

      • DoD Instruction 6055.06
        Mutual aid agreements authorized under DoD Instruction (DoDI) 6055.06-DoD Fire and Emergency Services (F&ES) Program-are limited to emergency fire, medical, hazardous materials, and rescue services. These emergency services are often provided on a reimbursable basis by F&ES personnel and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel. In the absence of an agreement, the same four types of assistance may be provided when the commander decides that such assistance is in the best interest of the United States and is under immediate response authority.

      • EMAC
        The Emergency Management Assistance Compact evolved in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and is administered by the National Emergency Management Association located in Lexington, Kentucky. It is a non-binding, collaborative arrangement among its members that provides a legal framework for states to assist one another in managing a disaster or an emergency that has been declared by the governor of the impacted state. All states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands are members of EMAC.

        During actual or potential widespread disasters that affect multiple states, EMACs may become exhausted more quickly, requiring a more urgent request for Federal response.

        EMAC does not allow the use of armed National Guard forces from one state to perform civil disturbance or other law enforcement operations in another state. If this type of support is required, it must be approved between states in a separate mutual aid agreement which includes: command relationship, immunity, carrying and loading of weapons, law enforcement authority, and training on state Rules on the Use of Force (RUF) requirements.

      • MOA/MOU
        When there is a Memorandum of Agreement or Memorandum of Understanding, its specific nature will be affected by the situation at that given location. The capabilities possessed by the parties to the MOA/MOU and their proximity to each other and to the location requiring response are among the factors that would be considered. Consideration for fiscal issues and the budget of a department may also be involved, especially when an organization would find itself adversely impacted if they are not the primary agency responding to an emergency in their jurisdiction, even if the military resource is closer. Additionally, the military must maintain its capabilities protecting its mission as well. An example of how a military fire department has shaped its MOAs around these factors can be found in the agreement by Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in providing mutual aid to the surrounding communities. The Tinker AFB Fire Department will roll their water tanker on the average of twenty times a year to assist local responders using their own equipment. This support peaks in the late summer when the vegetation is dry and grass fires are common, and peaks again in winter when numerous house fires break out due to faulty heating systems in residences in the city. Tinker AFB's role is for the most part limited to the tanker capability so that the local fire departments are the primary responders at the emergency.

    2. Immediate Response Authority (IRA) - DoD response at the municipal, county, or tribal level is provided under IRA. When time does not permit prior approval from higher headquarters, then local military commanders or responsible officials of other DoD components may, in imminently serious conditions and upon request from local authorities, provide support to:

      • Save lives
      • Prevent human suffering
      • Mitigate great property damage

      When considering IRA requests, emergency managers should keep in mind that local DoD responses depend on the availability of resources and current circumstances. For example, a requested DoD unit may not be able to respond under IRA if the unit has a conflicting defense mission. Emergency managers are encouraged to build relationships with the military commanders and staff of the DoD units within their respective jurisdictions. Through these relationships, emergency managers can increase their awareness of the capabilities, limitations, and supporting relationships of the DoD units.

      Example:Active Duty Response Immediate Response Authority

      A storm that includes tornadoes, hail, and over seven inches of rain within three hours hits a town located near an Air Force Base. Airmen assist in pulling people who are trapped in their cars out of floodwaters.

      Typical IRA Missions

      Typical missions include:

      • Search and rescue
      • Evacuation, decontamination, firefighting, medical treatment, restoration of medical capabilities and public services
      • Removal of debris, rubble, or hazards to permit rescue or movement
      • Detecting, assessing, and containing a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incident
      • Collecting, safeguarding, and distributing essential food items and supplies
      • Damage assessment
      • Communications
      • Explosive ordnance disposal

      Source: U.S. NORTHCOM GTA 90-01-020 DSCA Handbook for Commanders and Staffs and Field Manual 3-27 Civil Support Operations


      Immediate response could be provided to civil agencies on a cost-reimbursable basis. Requests for immediate response, however, should not be delayed or denied because of the inability or unwillingness of the requester to make a commitment to reimburse the DoD. Thus, funding for IRA may become the unit's responsibility. Commanders, or responsible DoD officials, will report all actions and support provided through the appropriate chain of command to the National Military Command Center and provide a copy to the Geographic Combatant Commander.

      Source: U.S. NORTHCOM GTA 90-01-020 DSCA Handbook for Commanders and Staffs

      Request for Assistance (RFA)

      To initiate the IRA, a Request for Assistance (RFA) must come from some civil authority, such as the mayor, chief of police, fire chief, sheriff, chief of emergency management, or tribal authority. This request may initially be made verbally; however, for Mission Assignment (MA) tracking and funding purposes, a follow-up in writing is desired. A rule-of-thumb time limit of 72 hours exists for immediate response operations. The 72 hours corresponds with the time limit for the response phase (focus is on life-sustaining functions) of a DSCA operation. After 72 hours, the response is generally no longer considered immediate and falls into the category of restoration/recovery, although the Secretary of Defense (SecDef) or President may authorize a response for up to ten days.

      It is important to note that no law enforcement activities are authorized under IRA.

      An emergency manager does not need a mutual aid agreement to conduct an IRA DSCA operation.


      In October 2007, in response to wildland fires in Southern California, Task Force Bulldozer from Amphibious Construction Batallion (ACB) 1 deployed in support of a verbal request for assistance from civil authorities.

      Task Force Bulldozer, including four bulldozers, two water trucks, and various support vehicles, provided support to Cal Fire and supplemented over-taxed equipment and resources. The mission focus was on constructing fire breaks and supplying water to Cal Fire trucks returing from the frontlines. ACB 1's heavy equipment and Seabee crews were ideally suited for this mission.

      Knowledge Check

      From whom must a Request for Assistance come?

      Feedback: To initiate the IRA, a Request for Assistance (RFA) must come from some civil authority, such as the mayor, chief of police, fire chief, sheriff, chief of emergency management, or tribal authority.

    3. Deployment of state military resources (National Guard) - The National Guard is the first line of military response to most incidents. When the governor of a state mobilizes the National Guard, the forces are typically in State Active Duty (SAD) status under command and control of the governor. SAD forces conduct all missions in accordance with the needs of the state and within the guidelines of state laws and statutes.

      Example:National Guard Response

      The Delaware National Guard works in coordination with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) to assist local and state agencies in protecting citizens and property. In February 2010, the Delaware National Guard responded to the winter storm by providing 82 HMMWVs, 22 MTVs, 4 wrecker vehicles, and 289 personnel working in shifts around the clock. These soldiers and airmen were put on State Active Duty at the direction of the governor of Delaware.

      The Guard's efforts were concentrated in Sussex County, where some people went more than 48 hours without power.

      The Director of Military Support (DOMS) was engaged with state and regional emergency management agencies to determine the scope of the Guard's response.

      The Delaware National Guard stood up its Joint Operations Center at its headquarters, where it maintained constant communication with the Emergency Operation Centers, its three task forces, DEMA, and other agencies.

      For this event, the Guard moved or assisted 1,200 people and completed 403 assigned missions, including:

      • Emergency Medical Services Calls
      • Fire Calls
      • Law Enforcement Calls
      • Dialysis Patient Transport
      • Civilian Transport To Warming Stations

      The Guard also provided assistance in removing debris to re-open critical transportation routes and providing potable water.

      National Guard commanders may provide immediate response to a local community, but under state laws. The local emergency managers may have contingency agreements in place with local armories and nearby National Guard training installations. Alert for the National Guard begins with the activation of the alert roster - usually initiated by full time Guard personnel. This alerting message is the notification the Guard members receive to report to their home station. The National Guard local commander is not normally a permanent full-time member and is alerted by his or her alert roster.

      The supporting commander assesses the situation within the larger context of the likely state response. Soldiers committed locally in an immediate response may be needed for a larger call-up of National Guard forces by the governor. The local commander may limit the immediate assistance in order to support higher priority missions. Frequently, National Guardsmen gather at their units even before an official alert order since their experience enables them to anticipate when they will be needed. Before completing any tasks though, they must be officially activated by Joint Force headquarters.

      The National Guard response timeframe depends on multiple factors, such as size of state, location of unit, and transportation requirements and assets. Typically, the National Guard responds within 12 to 24 hours, and Civil Support Teams respond within four to eight hours.

      Example:Complementary Nature of Active Duty and National Guard Roles

      On August 24, 1992, South Florida suffered the ravages of Hurricane Andrew and in the aftermath the Governor of Florida dispatched over 5,000 National Guardsmen, who responded with humanitarian aid and provided law enforcement. Even with that number of Guardsmen, they were overwhelmed by the extensive damage wrought by the hurricane. By August 27, 1992, the President directed greater DoD involvement because only that federal department had the personnel, materiel, and transportation capabilities to provide sufficient disaster assistance. In this disaster the DoD was essentially assigned responsibilities established by the Federal Response Plan that belonged to many other federal agencies. Once Active Duty forces began deploying into the disaster area about four days later, the assistance provided for the survivors became more consistent. The military responders established a division of labor, with the Active Duty taking over responsibility for humanitarian assistance and the National Guard, not being bound by Posse Comitatus, assuming sole responsibility for law enforcement. The Active Duty had to work hand-in-hand with the National Guard since the delivery of assistance had a constant security element in it.

      If the response requires military capabilities above those available to the National Guard within the affected state, additional resources can be requested from other supporting states. While these National Guard forces remain in SAD status (Title 32), they are under control of the supported governor.

      Example:Regional National Guard Hurricane Response

      In the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina's landfall, the Mississippi Adjutant General put Military Police, Aviation, and Engineer on standby. These were three specialties he knew would be of greatest use in the wake of the hurricane. He also sought assistance from the Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida National Guards. The units from these other states were employed according to Mississippi's hurricane plan, and because of excellent pre-planning and organization Mississippi relied heavily on National Guard assets.

      When any municipality or county activates an EOC, it typically notifies the state emergency manager. The state emergency manager then passes a situation report to the Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ)-State staff and then to the National Guard watch desk when National Guard units may be or are actually required to assist civilian responders. The Adjutant General or a designated representative may deploy a liaison team from the JFHQ-State to assess and monitor the situation. A National Guard liaison team is likely to deploy if the situation is unclear and has the potential to require additional resources. If the Adjutant General anticipates local authorities needing additional assistance, the joint force deploys additional teams.

      Source: U.S. NORTHCOM GTA 90-01-020 DSCA Handbook for Commanders and Staffs

      Deployment of Military Resources - State Defense Forces

      In addition to the National Guard, twenty-four states authorize a state defense force as allowed by Section 109, Title 32. These forces may be used to augment the state National Guard and other civil authorities in an emergency. State defense forces are strictly state entities and are not part of DoD. These voluntary forces are typically trained in specialized fields, such as law, administration, military police, communication, aviation support, search and rescue, logistics, medicine, or transportation. State defense force members are authorized to wear the military uniform assigned by the Adjutant General of the state. They are subject to the state's military code and during an emergency, receive pay according to state law.

      The final type of military response, Federal military forces disaster response, is discussed in the next section.

      Knowledge Check

      Feedback: When the governor of a state mobilizes the National Guard, the forces are typically in State Active Duty (SAD) status under command and control of the governor.

      If the response requires military capabilities above those available to the National Guard within the affected state, additional resources can be requested from other supporting states. While these National Guard forces remain in SAD status (Title 32), they are under control of the supported governor.

    4. Federal military forces disaster response - Usually, the commitment of Federal military forces for civil support operations follows a Presidential disaster declaration under the Stafford Act. Federal military support may range from installation support up to commitment of major portions of the military's Active Duty commands.

      After the disaster declaration, FEMA, through the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO), coordinates with the Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO) to prepare a request for DSCA and submit it to the DoD executive secretary. A Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO), however, may initiate the request, or another Federal agency could request Federal military support. In addition, the President may bypass the usual request process and order the military to provide support.

      Concurrently with the DSCA request, the appropriate combatant commander, either United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) or United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), develops the concept of operations and support and submits a request for forces to the Joint Staff. The SecDef designates the supported combatant commander and any supporting combatant commands. When validated, the request for forces becomes an order to the supporting combatant commanders to provide the forces.

Representatives in a Federal Response

Several individuals play critical roles in a Federal response. In particular, the SCO coordinates directly with the FCO who then, as necessary, coordinates with the DCO. Keep in mind, the FCO works with all Federal agencies, not just the DoD.

  • SCO - State Coordinating Officer
    The SCO is appointed by the governor to coordinate state response and recovery operations with the Federal government. As an incident escalates, the SCO will work with the FCO to formulate state requirements, including those that are beyond state capability.

  • FCO - Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO)
    The FCO is appointed to manage Federal response support activities for Stafford Act disasters and emergencies. The FCO also plays a significant role in managing the financial aspects of DSCA.

  • DCO - Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO)
    The DCO, a Title 10 Active Duty officer, is assigned to each FEMA region and may work at the Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC), at the FEMA regional office, or may pre-deploy to an incident command site. A DCO will generally be involved in DoD's response to DSCA. If Federal military forces deploy, the DCO will normally deploy to the Joint Field Office (JFO) location. The DCO coordinates DoD support to the Primary Agency (PA).

    Specific responsibilities of the DCO (subject to modification based on the situation) include:

    • Providing subject matter expertise for all state and Federal emergency response plans
    • Coordinating with FEMA staff, state emergency responders, TAGs, and JFHQ-State staff
    • Coordinating with the FCO and PAs for Emergency Support Functions (ESFs)
    • Assigning military liaisons as appropriate
    • Coordinating with all military installations regarding Base Support Installation (BSI) operations

  • DCE - Defense Coordinating Element (DCE)
    The DCO has a DCE of core staff and military Liaison Officers to facilitate coordination and support to activated ESFs.

    DCO/DCE responsibilities include:

    • Representing DoD in the disaster area
    • Providing liaison to state, local, and other Federal agencies
    • Reviewing/recommending validation of RFAs/MAs
    • Recommending the best military resource for the mission
    • Providing support of deployed DoD forces

  • EPLO - Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (EPLO)
    EPLOs are Service Reservists performing duties to help coordinate DoD emergency resources and support the DCO.

    Responsibilities of EPLOs include the following:

    • Establishing initial communication and coordination links between DoD and civil authorities at the regional, state, and local levels
    • Assisting DoD forces in establishing connections with appropriate local civil authorities
    • Conducting pre-emergency coordination with military and civilian leaders within their region or state
    • Maintaining effective communication between the DoD components and other state and/or Federal governmental agencies
    • Promoting mutual understanding among various organizations tasked with providing support in civil emergency situations
    • Coordinating and establishing relationships between the National Guard and DoD Federal forces
    • Representing DoD Federal forces in coordinating with civil authorities at the state and regional level

  • REPLO - Regional EPLO (REPLOs)
    REPLOs are Title 10 Service Reserve personnel assigned to the FEMA regions.

  • SEPLO - State EPLO (SEPLOs)
    SEPLOs are Title 10 Reserve personnel who perform duties in the state EOC. As subject matter experts in their states, they serve as DoD liaisons for DSCA to state and Federal agencies and maintain situational awareness within the state. On a daily basis, they build relationships to facilitate mission accomplishment.

Tribal Governments in Emergency Response

Tribal governments are responsible for coordinating resources to address actual or potential incidents, and often have offices established with responsibility for emergency management within their governments. Just as in the case of local governments, tribal leaders will seek additional assistance when local resources are not adequate. Unlike local governments, however, tribal governments can elect to go to the State for assistance or deal directly with the Federal government since federally recognized Tribes have a unique and direct relationship with the Federal government.

Example:National Guard Response during a Snowstorm

In January 2010, a severe snowstorm hit northern Arizona, an area that includes several Native American reservations. County sheriff offices and county emergency managers alerted tribal emergency managers and tribal chapter houses of the impending severe weather and ensured that communications procedures were in place to provide situational information and to request assistance. Once the storm hit, Arizona's Governor requested, and received, assistance per a Stafford Act emergency declaration, which allowed agencies to use Federal moneys for the response to and the recovery from the event. The Arizona National Guard delivered essential supplies such as MREs, water, and blankets to isolated regions including the Pinon, Kayenta, and Kykotsmovi Regions.

Although a State governor must request a Presidential declaration under the Stafford Act on behalf of a tribe when requesting Federal assistance, Federal departments or agencies can work directly with the tribe within the existing authorities and resources. The Tribal governments have direct contact with the Federal government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is part of the Department of Interior. Being sovereign entities, the tribes may also have contact with other government agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Authorities for Federal Response

While several authorities control a Federal response, emergency managers need to be most familiar with the Stafford Act, the Economy Act, the Posse Comitatus Act, and the Insurrection Act.

Stafford Act

The Stafford Act is a law that is set up to provide an orderly means of federal disaster assistance for state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to aid citizens. The limits are set by state law and by the authority of the governor.

Following an incident, the President may sign a Stafford Act declaration directing Federal resources (funding, agencies, and personnel) to provide assistance to a state. The declaration may be requested prior to predicted incidents such as a hurricane, or after acute incidents such as an earthquake.

The steps for a Stafford Act Presidential disaster declaration are as follows:

Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA)
Step 1: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)/Federal and state representatives complete a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA). The PDA:

  • Documents the impact of the event and estimates initial damage
  • Establishes a foundation for the governor to request assistance
  • Provides background for FEMA’s analysis of the request

Formal Governor's Request for Assistance
Step 2: The governor requests assistance. The governor’s request, by law, must:

  • State that the governor has taken appropriate action and directed execution of the State Emergency Operations Plan
  • Certify that the incident is of such severity and magnitude that state and local resources are inadequate
  • Include a damage estimate

FEMA Recommendation
Step 3: FEMA reviews the request and makes a recommendation

  • Governor’s request addressed to the President through FEMA Regional Administrator
  • FEMA Regional Office completes analysis of request and recommendation
  • FEMA Headquarters reviews request to ensure compliance with Stafford Act requirements
  • FEMA Administrator recommends a course of action to the President

Presidential declaration
Step 4: The President makes a Major Disaster or Emergency Declaration, if warranted.

  • President decides whether to declare that major disaster or emergency exists
  • If declaration is issued, assistance is made available under the Stafford Act
  • FCO's role is to oversee disaster operations

Economy Act

Once approved by the Secretary of Defense, Federal military forces may perform civil support on a reimbursable basis. The Economy Act of 1932 (Section 1525, Title 31) is the fiscal authority for a Federal agency to reimburse DoD for goods and services that agency ordered and DoD rendered (when a more specific statutory authority does not exist). Under the Economy Act, reimbursement may be provided for DoD's total costs.

Example:Economy Act Operation

The Minnesota bridge collapse in 2007 was an example of an Economy Act operation where FEMA was not involved. The U.S. Department of Transportation was the primary Federal agency. Who was in charge of the incident response? The local sheriff was the incident commander, and all requests for assistance originated from the sheriff through the City of Minneapolis Office of Emergency Preparedness. The DCO was sent when the Department of Transportation (DOT) requested support. U.S. Navy salvage divers were supplied by the DoD for the incident. The DCO was the DoD point of contact for all things DoD. DoD was reimbursed by DOT after the response under Economy Act authority.

A Difference between the Stafford and Economy Acts

Stafford Act funding becomes available only when there is a Presidential major disaster or emergency declaration, generally as the result of a governor's request for Federal assistance. Stafford Act funding is not available for a state declaration of emergency. The DCO may be able to assist in obtaining reimbursement for support provided by local and state officials, as well as reimbursement under the Stafford Act and/or Economy Act.

Posse Comitatus Act

Although Federal military forces are seldom first responders, they can support local authorities in an emergency, under immediate response authority. This response must be consistent with the Posse Comitatus Act which prohibits Title 10 forces from conducting law enforcement activities. These activities include interdirecting vehicles, conducting searches and seizures, making arrests or apprehensions, surveillance, investigation, or undercover work.

Insurrection Act

The Insurrection Act of 1807 governs the deployment by the President within the United States of Federal military personnel to quell lawlessness, insurrection, and rebellion. The law is intended to circumscribe the President's ability to use military force in enforcing civil law to narrowly defined conditions. Actions taken under the Insurrection Act are exempt from the provisions of the Posse Comitatus Act. The implementation of the Insurrection Act is allowed when a condition exists that hinders the execution of state and Federal laws within a state.

Example:Insurrection Act Exception for Posse Comitatus for Military Response to Rioting in California

During the 1992 Los Angeles, California riots soldiers and airmen from the California Army and Air National Guard were activated for state duty to quell the riots, and help the police restore order. Guardsmen were quickly committed into areas where they had to contend with considerable shooting, fires, and looting. The riots were declared a national emergency by President George H.W. Bush, and under the provisions of the Insurrection Act he deployed Title 10 military assets to assist in quelling the riots. The declaration insurrection was critical because it rendered Posse Comitatus moot for the purposes of allowing Title 10 forces to secure the streets, suppress looting and rioting, and in general enforce the law in Los Angeles. As a part of his declaration, the President also federalized the National Guard forces involved, in order to bring them under a unified command system.

Knowledge Check

  1. Stafford Act
  2. Economy Act
  3. Posse Comitatus Act
  4. Insurrection Act

Feedback: (3) The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits Title 10 forces from conducting law enforcement activities. These activities include interdirecting vehicles, conducting searches and seizures, making arrests or apprehensions, surveillance, investigation, or undercover work.
(2) The Economy Act of 1932 (Section 1525, Title 31) is the fiscal authority for a Federal agency to reimburse DoD for goods and services that agency ordered and DoD rendered (when a more specific statutory authority does not exist).
(1) Stafford Act funding becomes available only when there is a Presidential major disaster or emergency declaration, generally as the result of a governor's request for Federal assistance.
(4) The Insurrection Act of 1807 governs the deployment by the Preseident within the United States of Federal military personnel to quell lawlessness, insurrection, and rebellion.

Request for Assistance (RFA)/Mission Assignment (MA) Process

FEMA, which coordinates the Federal response to a disaster, uses Mission Assignments (MAs) to request assistance from the DoD to task other Federal agencies, and to provide reimbursement for direct assistance during emergencies and disasters. RFAs/MAs can also be initiated by states and/or agencies through the Executive Directorate at the Pentagon.

The RFA normally enters the process through the Joint Field Office (JFO). The DCO determines if the requirement can be fulfilled by military assets.

Pre-scripted Mission Assignments (PSMA)

In recent years, FEMA has expanded the MA process to include Pre-Scripted Mission Assignments (PSMAs), which, in coordination with FEMA, are developed by Federal agencies subject to supporting a Federal response. PSMAs standardize the process of developing MAs to facilitate a more rapid coordination process. They specify what type of assistance is required (personnel and equipment), identify a statement of work, and provide projected cost. Some representative DoD PSMAs related to the corresponding ESFs include:

A PMSA is not an approved MA and use of PSMA language does not preclude the use of the FEMA Action Request Form (ARF) (FEMA Form 90-126.) in the normal MA process. In response to a disaster, all requests for DoD assistance are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and are subject to the approval of the Secretary of Defense. Annex F of the DSCA Handbook Tactical Level Commander and Staff Toolkit (GTA 90-01-021) lists a summary of the DoD's 24 PSMAs as approved on 11 September 2009.

Incident Response Scenario

To tie all the concepts presented in this lesson together, let's take a look at a sample scenario. In this scenario, a hurricane will strike a state on the Gulf of Mexico. For simplicity, the projected hurricane strike will occur in Alabama. The process depicted below involves the same Stafford Act major disaster declaration described earlier. This allows for rapid action by the President with regard to emergency and disaster declarations.

This basic process is essentially the same for any emergency, whether it is a hurricane or a wildfire.

  1. Hurricane Strike
    • A hurricane strikes Alabama. The first assistance on the scene is provided by local citizens and local first responders, including local police, fire, and emergency medical services.
    • If the emergency exceeds the local capability or capacity, they will request assistance from other local and/or regional response agencies through mutual aid, and/or from the state.
  2. Alabama
    • The state's EOC will coordinate with the governor to employ forces at his or her disposal. This can include the state police and/or the National Guard on State Active Duty and/or Title 32 status.
    • The governor also has access to other states' resources via the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).
    • If the state determines they need additional capability or capacity, the governor can request help from the Federal government directly from the President.
  3. President
    • If the President agrees with the state request, a Presidential declaration is made and a lead Federal agency is assigned to coordinate and oversee the Federal response. In the example hurricane case provided, this would be DHS/FEMA.
  4. Emergency Officials
    • A Joint Field Office is established.
  5. DoD
    • If Federal resources in the area, with the exception of the military, are in short supply and/or the DoD has a unique capability needed by civilian authorities, a Request for Assistance (RFA) is made to the SecDef through the appropriate channels, as described earlier in this lesson. Note that the RFA is a capabilities-based request, which does not ask for specific units or equipment. Local responders describe the incident or emergency in the request. They are not responsible for matching resources to a specific incident.
    • If the SecDef agrees, the mission of supporting the request is assigned to NORTHCOM.
    • Per NORTHCOM mission statement, NORTHCOM is "anticipating" and preparing for when they are asked to respond to assist civil authorities. It should be recognized that the request process can be enacted very quickly, thus the reasoning for NORTHCOM maintaining situational awareness on a daily basis in order to anticipate a need for DSCA.

      During the 2006 hurricane season, NORTHCOM staged military resources and command and control elements to more effectively respond to possible needs of local and state emergency managers and emergency responders.


      • Step One: When directed by USNORTHCOM, the Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO) deploys to the Joint Field Office (JFO) to work with the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) and the State Coordinating Officer (SCO) to coordinate requests for DoD capabilities. The lead Federal agency funded requests (Mission Assignments) are processed through USNORTHCOM to Joint Directorate of Military Support (JDOMS) and to the SecDef for approval. When a disaster is determined to be of such magnitude (such as a hurricane) that it exceeds the DCO's ability to provide command and control over the requested forces needed to respond USNORTHCOM will direct USARMYNORTH to stand up a Joint Task Force (JTF). When multiple JTFs are activated the Joint Forces Land Component Command (JFLCC) will provide command and control out of USARMYNORTH.
      • Step Two: As the SecDef approves, the MA forces are flowed into the Joint Operations Area (JOA) and a Base Support Installation (BSI) is established to allow these forces to conduct Joint Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration (JRSOI) operations, and the BSI also provides that sustainment requirement to those forces. At this point the DCO is also the Joint Force Commander (JFC) within that JOA/incident area.
      • Step Three: A trigger will be established that clearly identifies when there are too many DoD forces within the JOA for the DCO to command (exceeding the DCO span of control); at which point all or a portion of a U.S. Army North (ARNORTH) Contingency Command Post (CCP) will deploy into the JOA and assume that command and control requirement from the DCO as the JTF.

      Note: This is all situation dependent - the disaster may be of such a magnitude that a Contingency Command Post is launched early on and will be established as close to the JFO as possible to effect a unified Federal response.

Summary: Lesson Summary

This lesson presented an overview of the incident response process from the local and first tier response to a Presidential declaration and Federal response. Three key points to remember, as highlighted in the scenario, are:

  • Military support must be requested by civilian authorities.
  • Title 10 military forces must be directed by the SecDef or the President.
  • It is most important to understand that the military forces' role is to support other organizations. The military and DoD are not arriving to take over incident command and control within DSCA operations.

The next lesson, Military Resources and Capabilities, will introduce you to the various military organizations and capabilities that may be involved in providing support to local emergency responders.


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