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Defense Support of Civil Authorities: DOD Mission or Additional Duty

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Technical Report

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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The Special Congressional Committee report on Hurricane Katrina stated, Katrina was the most destructive natural disaster in American history, laying waste to 90,000 square miles of land, an area the size of the United Kingdom 1 More than 72,000 uniformed military members deployed in support of the Katrina response to save lives, mitigate human suffering, and prevent property damage.2 A Katrina lessons learned report highlighted DOD as one of the only Federal organizations able to rapidly put effective forces on the ground.3 However, despite having the most capability, DOD response during Katrina was significantly delayed and at times ineffective due to the limitations of both Federal Law and DOD policy.4 Hurricane Katrina might appear an isolated event, but natural disasters such as annual hurricanes, wild fires, earthquakes, and pandemic disease will are likely future occurrences requiring massive responses. This paper will illustrate how Defense Support of Civil Authorities DSCA is a DOD mission and while DOD routinely executes DSCA, it does not organize, train, or equip for this mission as it does for war fighting missions.

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