Military and Domestic Disaster Response: Lead Role Revealed Through the Eye of Hurricane Katrina?   [open pdf - 918KB]

"The traditional role of the active-duty military force at home is one of support to a civilian Lead Federal Agency (LFA) that primarily falls under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). During emergencies, military domestic assistance is historically provided when local, state, and federal resources have been overwhelmed. During and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, however, the slow and perceived inept response to the massive disaster prompted a national debate on the appropriate role of the military in response to major domestic disasters. Many concerned with the federal response to Katrina believed that America's homeland security system could not aptly respond to a large-scale natural or man-made catastrophe without the military in a lead role. Defining the roles and understanding the responsibilities outlined for the Department of Defense (DOD) within the National Response Plan (NRP) is an important first step toward an effectively coordinated Federal domestic incident response. The purpose of this research is to explore the role of the active-duty military in domestic disaster response, using Hurricane Katrina, to determine if DOD and DHS response to the disaster was implemented according to the NRP. This research will help to explain the role that the military plays in supporting the civilian LFA in disaster response."

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