This report is part of chapter one of five chapters in the series: Threats at Our Threshold: Homeland Defense and Homeland Security in the New Century: A Compilation of the Proceedings of the First Annual Homeland Defense and Homeland Security Conference. The following is taken from the introduction of the report: "The notion that the Department of Defense (DoD) should serve as the lead federal agency for major disasters and catastrophic events is not new. In 1992, in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, discussions took place regarding this issue, and more recently, the topic resurfaced after Hurricane Katrina devastated areas of Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005. DoD is certainly capable of serving as the lead federal agency for catastrophic events and major disasters; but examining this issue from an operational rather than an academic point of view leads to the conclusion that a more useful and appropriate role for the department would be to enable and support other federal agencies--equally, or even better suited to lead the federal response efforts. In the event of a catastrophe, the DoD has three combatant commands which would be more than capable of anchoring the lead in a response to catastrophe: the United States Northern Command, the Pacific Command, and (perhaps less intuitively) the United States Southern Command. The experience and competence of the commands' leadership--coupled with the department's ability to conduct a wide variety of missions such as civil affairs, civil administration, reconstruction and restoration--lead many people to automatically default to the position that the DoD should serve as the lead agency in the event of a major disaster or catastrophe. The inherent capacities the department carries in the realms of communication, transportation, and a wide range of logistics capabilities only serve to reinforce this notion. Unfortunately, while this position is convenient from an operational point of view, this is not necessarily the best alternative."
Threats at Our Threshold: Homeland Defense and Homeland Security in the New Century: A Compilation of the Proceedings of the First Annual Homeland Defense and Homeland Security Conference