Military involvement in disasters

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A paper detailing the need to involve the military in disaster management situations. A review of existing legislation and current practice in the United States.

A paper detailing the need to involve the military in disaster management situations. A review of existing legislation and current practice in the United States.

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  • 1. United States Military Response to Domestic Natural Disasters: Active and Reserve Forces a Last Resort or an Inescapable Trend Timothy Makori Tim.makori@gmail.com www.timtrends.wordpress.com
  • 2. 1 Contents Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................2 Legal and National Frameworks....................................................................................................................3 Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 ........................................................................................................................4 Disaster Management Acts...........................................................................................................................5 Military’s Role in Disasters and Disaster Management Plans.......................................................................6 Conclusion.....................................................................................................................................................6
  • 3. 2 Introduction Authors and scholars have defined disasters as happenings, such as earthquakes or floods, which lead to significant loss of life, disruption, or destruction of property. Acknowledging the risk that serving soldiers of the United States Military could present to innocuous civilians and the sovereignty reserved by the myriad states, but also conscious of the need to avert against damage and provide rescue to disaster-struck communities, the developers of the American Constitution integrated a checks and balances system to demarcate the control of the army between the Congress and the President and to share the share the governance of the paramilitaries with the states.1 Disaster prevention and management is a quintessential function of the administration of a state or a country.2 Nonetheless, the United States military has been recurrently involved in technological and natural disasters and Complex Human Emergency (CHE) relief efforts. The United States Agency for International Development Office of disaster assistance office (USAID/OFDA) often requests the U.S. military, through the U.S. Department of Defense, to participate in international disasters.3 The same office, OFDA, calls upon the assistance of the military in local eventualities that are beyond their handling capacities.4 Scenes from recent disasters such as the Hurricane Katrina depicted New Orleans citizens grappling because of 1 (Kapucu, 2011) 2 (Kapucu, 2011) 3 (Coppola, 2010) 4 (2006 Operational Law Handbook, n.d.)
  • 4. 3 their insufficiency. Since that event, many legislators, plus the President, have requested for superior military envelopment in disaster management roles.5 The United States has gone through devastating and debilitating disasters that have reduced houses, roads, and other costly assets to mere debris. Weather related disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, have, at one time, caused the President to present a record 99 declaration for disaster. Places such as the Indiana, Midwest, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Kansas have all suffered devastation being reduced to wreckage. The costs in damages suffered by the country reached record high in 2011 when over a third of trillion in dollars succumbed to damages. During all these disasters and many others in international scenes, the U.S. aircraft carriers loaded with supplies, equipment, and troops showed up early, and assisted in rescuing survivors. Disaster relief appeared to be one of the key aims of the United States military and thousands of citizens witnessed the softer side of the soldiers.6 Legal and National Frameworks It is vital to comprehend the past evolution of the roles of the soldiers with stress on the present laws, documents, and national plans to appreciate the significance and central role of the military in natural and manmade disasters. 5 Ronald J. Daniels, Donald F. Kettl, and Howard Kunreuther, On Risk and Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011). 6 (Travis et al., 2013)
  • 5. 4 Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 The process of involvement and the overall statutory inhibition of the army in the domestic application of law enforcement and civilian activities are included in the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, 18 U.S.C § 1385. This particular act proscribes and limits the application of the military (including any of its subunits) or the Air Force for purposes of law enforcement. Nonetheless, there exist some few limitations and exceptions to the Posse Comitatus Act that give troops the permission to serve in particular cases such as The National Guard labeled with Title 32 and under state authority; capturing of aerial visual photographs, surveillance and visual search; and participation in special investigations; inspections of the Department of Defense; and Air and Navy Force offering assistance to the Federal Bureau of Investigations in investigating the kidnapping, assassination, or assault of the United States President .7 The United States military may take part in law enforcement when the Act of Congress or Constitution authorizes it to, which parallels the federalization of active and direct involvement of the military within the enforcement of civilian law.8 The complexity, limitations, and restrictions of the use of the Posse Comitatus Act, nonetheless, conjure ambiguity in explaining the transparent and lucid boundaries of the involvement of the military procedures. The Insurrection Act, which is doubled by the Posse Comitatus Act and presents as an exception to the regulation, developed in 10 U.S.C. §§ 331-335 Sectors, permits the President, by the appeal of the state governor in decentralization, to call and deploy the military for domestic 7 (BARAK, 2007) 8 Brake Jeffrey, CRS Report to Congress,“ (Washington DC, 2008).
  • 6. 5 assistance and use in reinstatement of public order, averting disorder, domestic unrest, looting, and other activities of law enforcement.9 Disaster Management Acts The Federal Disaster Relief Act set much of the methodology through which the United States carried out disaster management. The Act offered an orderly, continuing means of the government to assist states as well as localities that suffered various eventualities because of major disasters. Later, the framers of the constitution decided that the Disaster Relief Act of 1950 did not serve the country well in terms of addressing catastrophic disasters. For this reason, they developed another Act in 1974 that required the federal government to provide three quarters of the funding for programs administered by states following major disasters. Today, America is guided by the Stafford Act as well as the Emergency Assistance Act, which state that states, some non-profit organizations, and localities may use disaster management funds to offer mass care, restore destroyed or damaged facilities, aid victims, help families, clear debris, and mitigate the possibilities of future disasters.10 The military may respond to disasters under the provisions of this act by the appeal of DHS through the Department of Defense. Additionally, the president has Constitutional powers to decide and issue a disaster red-alert authorizing the best support to oversee and conduct rescue operations.11 9 Kerry B. Fosher, Under Construction: Making Homeland Security at the Local Level (University of Chicago Press, 2010). 10 Bruce R. Lindsay and Justin Murray, Disaster Relief Funding and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations (DIANE Publishing, 2011). 11 Kapucu, “The Role of the Military in Disaster Response in the US.”
  • 7. 6 Military’s Role in Disasters and Disaster Management Plans The public administration matters associated with the relevant and heightening role of the military in disasters cannot be overelaborated. The difficulties of coordinating and managing disasters pose a substantial risk to public order, civilian life, and national security. Response strategies and activities after a disaster require robust coordination among the key organizations or agencies because of the multitude of bureaus, civil servants, divisions, and chosen officials who deliberate on issues affecting other stakeholders, requires high level of coordination.12 The National response Plan stands as the most recent product in an evolving planning sequence for managing disasters. Through this response plan, the secretary of defense can provide military resources to help other agencies and departments. The use of these resources occurs only with the authorization of either the president or the secretary of defense. Further, military personnel deployed to emergency areas remain under the command of the Department of Defense.13 The role of the military has been defined further by the Hazardous Material Response Annex and the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Act.14 Conclusion Disaster management and response has gained importance over the years in the United States as well as elsewhere. This research paper offers backdrop information about the vital 12 Jack Pinkowski, Disaster Management Handbook (CRC Press, 2008). 13 Richard Beebe and Myers, Professional Paramedic, Volume III: Trauma Care & EMS Operations (Cengage Learning, 2011). 14 Lindsay and Murray, Disaster Relief Funding and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations.
  • 8. 7 and increasing role of the military forces in disasters. The paper has shown the initiation of military involvement during the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 and the evolving role through various disaster management acts. Stafford Act as well as the Emergency Assistance Act gave clear guidelines by citing that the military can be involved in disasters through the Department of Defense (DOD). It is notable that the military’s involvement lies on the fact that they can manage robust coordination and sufficient equipment. The National Response Plan offers further guidelines on the involvement of the military. While the military involvement is important, it should only occur when necessary, and even so, the military maintains independence.
  • 9. 8 Bibliography 2006 Operational Law Handbook. DIANE Publishing, n.d. BARAK, GREGG. Battleground: Criminal Justice. ABC-CLIO, 2007. Beebe, Richard, and Myers. Professional Paramedic, Volume III: Trauma Care & EMS Operations. Cengage Learning, 2011. Coppola, Damon P. Introduction to International Disaster Management. Elsevier, 2010. Daniels, Ronald J., Donald F. Kettl, and Howard Kunreuther. On Risk and Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011. Fosher, Kerry B. Under Construction: Making Homeland Security at the Local Level. University of Chicago Press, 2010. Jeffrey, Brake. CRS Report to Congress,“. Washington DC, 2008. Kapucu, Naim. “The Role of the Military in Disaster Response in the US.” European Journal of Economic & Political … 4, no. 2 (2011): 7–33. Lindsay, Bruce R., and Justin Murray. Disaster Relief Funding and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations. DIANE Publishing, 2011. Pinkowski, Jack. Disaster Management Handbook. CRC Press, 2008. Sadiq, Abdul-Akeem Ademola. Mitigating and Preparing for Disasters: A Survey of Memphis Organizations. ProQuest, 2009. Travis, William D, Elisabeth Brambilla, Masayuki Noguchi, Andrew G Nicholson, Kim Geisinger, Yasushi Yatabe, Yuichi Ishikawa, et al. “Diagnosis of Lung Cancer in Small Biopsies and Cytology: Implications of the 2011 International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer/American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society Classification.”
  • 10. 9 Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 137, no. 5 (May 2013): 668–84. doi:10.5858/arpa.2012-0263-RA.
  • 11. 10 Appendix Soldiers in Lothar storm in 1999 Soldiers in Haiti Disaster Relief
  • 12. 11 Soldiers aid the Matte district of Bern’s flood in 2005 Troops assist in disaster relief