The Patriot Files Forums  

Go Back   The Patriot Files Forums > Branch Posts > National Guard/Reserves

Post New Thread  Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-23-2020, 08:36 AM
Boats's Avatar
Boats Boats is offline
Senior Member
 

Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 14,776
Arrow We Need a Unified Military Command for Disaster Response

We Need a Unified Military Command for Disaster Response
By: David Helvarg - The New York Times - 03-23-20
Re: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/o...-military.html

The pandemic is only one of many potential disasters that will require unity of action among the armed services.

President Trump has finally called in the military in the nation’s war against the coronavirus. But precious time was lost in the weeks since he was warned about the dangers the virus poses. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Creating a disaster response command within the military would provide unity of action among the services to respond to emergencies like the present one; improve strategic planning for an array of other threats, including future pandemics and climate-linked natural disasters; and position resources we will need before we need them — like ventilators and hospital beds that health care providers are scrambling to secure.

It should be activated immediately as the Pentagon’s 12th unified combatant command.

We can no longer afford Pentagon sideshows, like the establishment of the Space Force as a sixth military branch or deployment of army troops to the Mexican border just before the 2018 congressional elections. The Trump administration is now following the lead of Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, who called for the Army Corps of Engineers to be mobilized to quickly build out additional hospital facilities and make use of mobile military field hospitals.

Major disaster declarations were in process on Sunday for New York, California and Washington. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been activated. We should also consider mobilizing the defense transportation system to shore up any temporary breakdown in our food or other essential supply chain operations.

But until last week, much of the government remained largely untapped in this emergency. Hospital ships were at port, though they will soon be deployed, and the Department of Veterans Affairs was awaiting requests for help. The Army Corps of Engineers said that it had not received direction from the administration.

And while all 50 states have mobilized thousands of National Guardsmen and women, and while the Guard should play a vital role in disaster response, it still lacks the scale and logistical resources of the full-time armed services. In addition many Guard members will be needed in their civilian jobs as doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians or as employees of essential industries including trucking, ports, utilities, food and sanitation.

Under the system in place today, military coordination with civilian agencies in disaster response is done through the Pentagon’s Northern Command. Its main function is the military defense of our hemisphere, with increased emphasis on the Arctic.

Each of the Defense Department’s 11 combatant commands is made up of at least two military services working together on a common mission. Their missions are defined as regional (Africa, Europe), functional (special operations, transportation) or threat-specific (the U.S. Cyber Command was commissioned in 2017 because of the threat cyberwarfare presents to America’s security.)

At the moment, it is hard to look beyond the growing impacts of the coronavirus on public health and economy. Yet the effects of climate change — increased storminess, flooding, droughts and wildfires (which could soon see California looking like Australia) — also pose profound and long-term threats that could cost thousands of lives and $500 billion a year in lost property and production before the end of the century, according to the most recent U.S. National Climate Assessment, a report produced by 13 federal agencies including the Defense Department.

In 2015, the department directed its combatant commands to integrate the potential for climate impacts into their planning cycles. The results have been mixed at best.

Designed for war fighting, the Pentagon has always been challenged in its efforts at projecting “soft power.” I first witnessed military soft power when the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima docked at the New Orleans waterfront after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Its deck functioned as a mobile emergency airfield, while it also provided beds, storage, air-conditioning, showers and meals for thousands of National Guard personnel and relief workers. Unfortunately, the Defense Department was not organized or directed to deploy its resources until Day 4 of that disaster.

Years later, the Pentagon was again late in deploying a naval hospital ship, the 250-bed Comfort, to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and then admitted only six patients a day because of coordination lapses with civilian first responders.

The increasing challenges faced by civilian front-line organizations, not just in the public health and hospital sector but also by groups like Cal Fire, which can mobilize 10,000 firefighters in California and still be overwhelmed, suggests it’s time to at least partly redefine how we collect on our nation’s multitrillion-dollar, generations-long investment in national defense.

The Defense Department’s’ National Guard Bureau is well positioned to help staff and direct a natural disaster response command — as is the Army Corps of Engineers, with its long history of close collaboration with civilian agencies.

This combatant command could also tap into the capabilities of the only branch of the military outside the Defense Department, the Coast Guard, with its depth of experience in search and rescue, incident command and surge response to disasters. The smallest of the armed forces with just under 42,000 active duty members, it still managed to rescue 33,000 people during Hurricane Katrina and another 16,000 during the 2017 hurricane season.

This combatant command is needed now if we’re to have the best chance of responding to the coronavirus crisis, which we have already been too slow to respond to, and to future natural disasters that we know are coming.

About this writer: David Helvarg is executive director of Blue Frontier, an ocean conservation and policy group, and the author of “Rescue Warriors: The U.S. Coast Guard, America’s Forgotten Heroes.”

Note: The NY Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.
__________________
Boats

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
sendpm.gif Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 05:09 PM.


Powered by vBulletin, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.