June 25, 2008 —
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Representatives from the U.S. Reserve Forces and National Guard joined personnel from NORAD and U.S. Northern Command to participate in the Reserve Component Advocacy Conference Jun 17-18.
The Reserve Component Advocacy Conference fosters dialogue aimed at developing effective strategies to improve the capabilities of U.S. Reserve Components to respond to Homeland Defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities missions.
The conference convened mid-level work groups to discuss the requirements of both active duty units and the Reserve Components, then forwarded recommendations to senior-level decision-makers to progress toward a common understanding with the intent to improve capabilities to defend the homeland and provide DOD Support of Civil Authorities.
“This is actually a good news story,” said Air Force General Gene Renuart, commander of USNORTHCOM during opening remarks to the assembled group. “We have begun to normalize the process of defining the advocacy for the Reserve forces.”
According to Renuart, the conference is a “collaborative effort to come up with a single set of recommendations to bring up to the Secretary (of Defense).”
Issues such as the Posse Comitatus Act, the sovereignty of states and local mutual aid compacts can interfere with request for assistance process in the event of a national emergency or disaster. As was discussed in the conference, ways to not only smooth the request process, but to also ensure that Reserve and National Guard units have the equipment and funding they need in order to carry out Homeland Defense or Defense Support of Civil Authority missions are part and parcel of the recommendations the conference will forward to the Secretary of Defense.
“We’re doing this because we need to resolve some of these problems, whether its process, funding or products [such as the proper equipment],” Renuart told the assemblage.
“It’s a good initiative,” said Maj. Gen. Chuck Rodriguez, Adjutant General for the State of Texas. “Northern Command is trying to come up with the shortcomings that can be satisfied with legislative or budgetary remedies.”
“This conference is really a continuing effort on the part of both Title 10 and Title 32 forces to figure out how to best defend this nation against the threats that we face whether it be man-made or natural threats,” Maj. Gen. Mike Edwards, Adjutant General for the State of Colorado said.
Title 10 forces refers to active duty military and their preclusion from conducting law enforcement activities on U.S. soil per the Posse Comitatus Act, Section 1385 of Title 18, United States Code. Title 32 forces are National Guard troops on State Active Duty, and can, at the direction of the governor, conduct law enforcement operations. The difference in the status of forces, whether active duty (Title 10) or State Active Duty (Title 32) status can create difficulties in how disaster response efforts are conducted, especially when the active duty military is called in to assist under the auspices of NORAD and USNORTHCOM.
“What this conference is all about is, ‘how best can we protect the United States or take care of our folks in the United States in a cooperative effort between State and Federal capabilities’,” said Edwards.
Understanding how local and state governments and National Guard or Reserve units can request active duty assistance, and how to ensure that assistance is in place in a timely manner, and then making sure that recommendations on that process are forwarded to the Secretary of Defense is an on-going job according to Renuart, but is a job that the cooperative efforts of the conference is improving.
“We’re getting closer to overcoming a lot of these challenges,” Rodriguez added.
NORAD is the bi-national command responsible for aerospace and maritime warning and defense along the borders of the United States and Canada. 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of the NORAD agreement between the U.S. and Canada.
U.S. Northern Command is responsible for Homeland Defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities. The command provides assistance in response to both man-made and national disasters once requested by the local and state responders and approved by the Secretary of Defense and the President.