Air Guard Strengthens Stance for Homeland Defense, Civil Support

The 2010 Domestic Operations Equipment Requirements (DOERs) conference prompted the Air National Guard (ANG) to position itself to provide an even stronger stance for its future homeland-defense and civil-support missions. The ANG bases its equipment requirements on the National Guard’s (NG) “Essential 10,” which for operational purposes is a list of the 10 essential missions – joint-force headquarters command & control, civil support teams, maintenance, aviation, engineer, medical, communications, transportation, security, and logistics – that the NG is responsible for during and in the aftermath of a domestic emergency event.

Following in-depth discussions with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), what is referred to as the “Essential 10” Equipment Requirements – i.e., the equipment items that every state needs when it has to respond to a natural disaster – has morphed into a unified National Response Framework plan and emergency support functions construct. This process helps ensure that all responders are “on the same page.”

The finished product of the DOERs conference was what is called the 2011 “DOERs book” – which, among other things, is used to inform the Air Force’s senior leadership about the ANG’s homeland-defense and civil-support requirements. In the words of Air Force Colonel Jon Mott, the DOERs book provides “a fiscally unconstrained look at whatever our requirements are. It’s not an unfunded requirements request. It’s not a budget document. … It documents what our requirements are from the field perspective.”

“A Unique and Much-Needed Partner”

The DOERs process, including an annual conference and publication of an associated requirements book, is the cornerstone of a vision that will help equip and posture the ANG as a unique and much needed partner to civil agencies in times of domestic distress. In 2010, the second annual DOERs Conference hosted more than 460 military and civilian attendees representing all 54 states and territories and the District of Columbia as well as representatives from both FEMA and DHS.

The conference goal, as spelled out in the DOERs book, was to define and document ANG capability shortfalls in the field of domestic operations. ANG field experts identified critical capabilities, based specifically on the NRF eight-key scenario sets, by drawing on their own vast pool of experience and an understanding of the domestic mission at the local, state, and regional levels. The end result (again, in Mott’s words) “allows for an easier discussion of ANG capabilities and needs in the context of the [DHS]/FEMA construct. … Posturing of National Guard resources across FEMA regions facilitates rapid access to critical consequence-management capabilities, and fits perfectly with FEMA’s new ‘Whole of Nation’ framework for catastrophic planning and response.”

A “State/FEMA matrix” included in the book specifically identifies the individual states and FEMA regions projected to receive critical capability resources, and further distinguishes how some capabilities are required in each state – while others are needed within each FEMA region to support a region-only and/or national response. The remaining sections of the book focus primarily on the specific emergency-support functions tabs, which include information related to each required capability classified as “critical” – meaning that it must be in place in less than three years.

The “Earthquake Workshop” and Validated Capabilities

Complementing and supporting the preceding effort was the first-ever “New Madrid Seismic Zone Resource Allocation Workshop” – hosted by FEMA and the National Emergency Management Association in Nashville, Tennessee. The key shortfalls identified by state emergency-management authorities at the workshop, which ran from 30 November through 3 December 2010, almost mirror the capability needs identified at the last two DOERs conferences. The fact that “the DOERs process is producing … a validated capabilities process that supports our nation’s communities in times of greatest need … is great news,” Mott said, “and allows for an easier discussion of ANG capabilities and needs in the context of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA construct.”

The DOERs book also addresses how ongoing overseas commitments and expanding domestic responsibilities for the ANG, in conjunction with increased awareness from political leaders, make it essential to maintain focus on the strategy developed to improve the ANG’s support to civil authorities. A related Department of Defense directive includes significant provisions for increasing the influence of the National Guard in matters of support to civil authorities. That directive, together with the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, forms the foundation for a robust ANG strategy for the National Guard.

“While the 2009 Domestic Operations Equipment Requirements Conference produced a book categorized under eight emergency support functions, the inclusion of incident awareness and assessment for the 2010 [DOERs] conference has expanded the list to 10,” said Air Force Lieutenant General Harry M. Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard. “Another conference improvement this year was the appointment of emergency support functions chairs and vice-chairs … [who] provided an in-depth ANG enterprise-wide out-brief, identifying over 50 critical material capability gaps and over 40 critical non-material issues.”

Identifying Future as Well as Current Needs

In 2009, according to Mott, this field-driven process identified almost $600 million in equipment requirements, of which $30 million had already been earmarked to support domestic operations. At the 2010 conference, it was determined that an estimated $672 million still would be needed to respond to the increased homeland-defense and civil-support missions. Warfighters have affirmed that that is the amount they need to respond to a manmade or natural disaster in the local communities, states, or FEMA regions. The funds needed will be requested through the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Appropriations (NGREA) legislative process.

The NGREA appropriations received a significant increase following Hurricane Katrina, when the Air Guard realized that it had to replace and modernize much of its major equipment items. Prior to 2006, the NGREA was used primarily for keeping the Guard’s major weapons systems both modernized and relevant. After 2006, emergency appropriations ($200 million) were allocated to replace the specific equipment items needed at that time. Then the National Defense Authorization Act language was changed to allow NGREA funding to be used. To date, a total of $740 million in NGREA appropriations – i.e., the initial $200 million plus an additional $540 million allocated over the past five years – have been used for modernization missions, homeland defense, and civil support, providing much improved capabilities for the Guard’s warfighting and disaster-response missions.

The 2011 approach will be focused on expanding efforts in: (a) outlining the ANG strategy for domestic operations; (b) widening the audience to include more joint participation; and (c) strengthening linkages to the civil support team through use of the emergency support functions framework. As a fully integrated member of the NG team, the ANG’s responsibility to civil authorities will be to save lives, prevent human suffering, and mitigate property damage to the greatest extent possible. The dual role of the ANG in defending U.S. interests abroad, as well as ensuring safety and security at home, has become more visible to the American people as a result of the many one-time as well as recurring natural and manmade disasters that have occurred in the past several years.

As General Wyatt affirmed in the book, this is an important document related to and supporting the ANG’s homeland response mission, “Our emergency support functions’ chairs and vice-chairs, and the Air National Guard functional area managers, have come together and taken passionate ownership of this field-driven process, producing a document that they all can truly be proud of. … It has been said that being lucky is really where preparation meets opportunity and this … will provide the Air National Guard a proactive way to discover many opportunities to serve the citizens of this great country, through a deliberate and methodical approach to determine field-driven requirements.”

For additional information on: (a) The “Essential 10 Equipment Requirements,” click on:

(b) The 2011 DOERs book, click on:

John Orrell

Technical Sergeant John Orrell is a staff writer and photojournalist at the National Guard Bureau whose duties are focused principally on the missions of the National Guard both domestically and worldwide. He enlisted in the Air Force in November 2001, and in 2004 enlisted with the Air National Guard (ANG), serving with the Air National Guard’s 126th Air Refueling Wing (ARW), Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. In 2008, he cross-trained into the public affairs career field to be a journalist and served with the 126th ARW until August 2010, when he moved to the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia. He now works for the National Guard Bureau Public Affairs’ Command Information Division. The preceding article by Sergeant Orrell has been adapted, with permission, from the National Guard’s 13 December 2010 web posting on



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