Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA)

Military Reference: Multi-Service & Specialty

Military Reference: Joint & Service-level

Homeland Defense, DSCA, & Disaster Response

Joint Strategic, Interagency, & National Security

Threat, OPFOR, Regional & Cultural

Books in Development

SMARTsets

Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) is support provided by federal military forces, DOD civilians, DOD contract personnel, DOD component assets, and NG forces (when the Secretary of Defense [SecDef], in coordination with the governors of the affected states, elects and requests to use those forces in Title 32, USC, status or when federalized) in response to a request for assistance (RFA) from civil authorities for domestic emergencies, law enforcement support, and other domestic activities, or from qualifying entities for special events. DSCA includes support to prepare, prevent, protect, respond, and recover from domestic incidents including terrorist attacks, major disasters, both natural and man-made, and planned domestic special events. DSCA is provided in response to requests from civil authorities and upon approval from appropriate authorities. By definition, DSCA operations are conducted only in the US homeland. The US homeland is the physical region that includes the continental United States (CONUS), Alaska, Hawaii, United States territories, and surrounding territorial waters and airspace.

The Armed Forces of the United States and Department of Defense (DOD) agencies may be called upon for defense support of civil authorities (DSCA) to support a whole-of-government response in support of civil authorities, although not specifically organized, trained, or equipped for the support of civil authorities. The US Armed Forces have a historic precedent and enduring role in supporting civil authorities during times of emergency, and this role is codified in national defense strategy as a primary mission of DOD.

The nature of DSCA in the US presents a unique challenge based on the history of the country and the interaction of the federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments and private and nonprofit organizations. These relationships establish the multiple layers and mutually reinforcing structures throughout the state and territorial governments for interaction based on the US Constitution, as well as common law and traditional relationships.

Federal law, as codified in Title 10 and Title 32, United States Code (USC), creates distinct mechanisms for both local and state authorities to call upon National Guard (NG) forces or resources. Federal forces, both active and reserve, may also be requested if necessary under Title 10, USC, authority. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is a unique force that carries out an array of civil and military responsibilities touching almost every facet of the US maritime domain. The USCG functions as a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Title 14, USC, which includes law enforcement roles and missions. The USCG may be transferred, in part or whole, to the Department of the Navy when war is declared by Congress or as directed by the President. The NG of the United States is administered by the National Guard Bureau (NGB), which is a joint activity under DOD and provides a communication channel for NG to DOD in order to support unified action. This framework establishes the mechanisms for seamless coordination among federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local governments to prevent, protect against, and respond to threats and natural disasters. NG forces operate under state active duty, Title 32, USC, or federal active duty, Title 10, USC, depending on activation status.

Relationships between Homeland Security, Homeland Defense (HD), and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA)

Homeland Defense (HD), DSCA, and homeland security (HS) operations or events may occur simultaneously. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges for a military staff is operating in or near the homeland and being subject to the inherent legal and jurisdictional responsibilities that accompany such operations. This challenge is set against the evolving range of threats to the homeland–to countering transnational organizations and individual actors of concern internal and external to the US. HD and DSCA missions missions can be conducted in a simultaneous, near-simultaneous, or sequential fashion, across the threat spectrum, within or near the homeland. A full range of threats and hazards confronts the homeland. Many threats may not require a DOD-led response, and may not require a response from more than one civilian department or agency. The characterization of a particular threat, and the designated response agencies and modes, ultimately rests with the President. To prepare for wide-ranging contingencies, the USG has developed specific protocols and response options that address the coordination, integration, and responsibilities of the federal agencies to respond to the full spectrum of threats and hazards. Codification of these strategies, processes, and procedures is found in documents such as the National Strategy for Maritime Security and US Aviation Security Policy, and their respective supporting plans. These types of processes aid both the military and civil authorities to identify which agency or agencies are best suited to achieve the USG’s desired outcome given the unique circumstances of the event.

Homeland Defense, Homeland Security, and Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA)

Homeland Security is a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the US; reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, major disasters, and other emergencies; and minimize the damage and recover from attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies that occur. Homeland Defense is the protection of US sovereignty, territory, domestic population, and critical infrastructure against external threats and aggression, or other threats as directed by the President. Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) is support provided in response to requests for assistance from civil authorities for domestic emergencies, law enforcement support, and other domestic activities, or from qualifying entities for special events.

Homeland Security (HS)

HS is a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the US; reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, major disasters, and other emergencies; and minimize the damage and recover from attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies that occur. DOD is a key part of HS, conducting HD and DSCA. DHS will usually be the federal agency with lead responsibility, and will be supported by other USG departments and agencies when requested. DOJ has lead responsibility for criminal investigations of terrorist acts or terrorist threats by individuals or groups inside the United State, or directed at US citizens or institutions abroad, where such acts are within federal criminal jurisdiction of the US, as well as for the related intelligence collection activities within the US, subject to the National Security Act of 1947 and other applicable law. The National Strategy for HS addresses the terrorist threat and provides a comprehensive framework for organizing the efforts of federal, state, local, tribal, and private organizations whose primary functions are often unrelated to national security. HD efforts often complement HS efforts and the reverse is also true.

Homeland Defense (HD) and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA)

DOD protects the homeland through two distinct but interrelated missions, HD and DSCA. DOD is the federal agency with lead responsibility for HD, which may be executed by DOD alone (e.g., BMD) or include support from other USG departments and agencies. DOD’s role in the DSCA mission consists of support to US civil authorities (DHS or other department or agency) for domestic emergencies and for designated LE and other activities. While these missions are distinct, some department roles and responsibilities overlap and operations require extensive coordination between lead and supporting agencies. Figure A-1 illustrates a notional relationship between HD, DSCA, and HS lead and supporting relationships and provides examples of the types of operations that can take place for each mission. HD and DSCA operations may occur in parallel and require extensive integration and synchronization. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of AC and RC forces and how they are used and the various duty statuses used to employ NG forces (Title 10 and Title 32, USC, and state active duty), is critical to achieve integration and synchronization.


HDS1: The Homeland Defense & DSCA SMARTbookRead more about Homeland Defense (HD), Homeland Security (HS), and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) in “HDS1: The Homeland Defense & DSCA SMARTbook (Protecting the Homeland / Defense Support to Civil Authority)” by The Lightning Press. Download a free PDF sample and learn more at:HDS1: The Homeland Defense & DSCA SMARTbook (Protecting the Homeland / Defense Support to Civil Authority)“.

Browse additional military doctrine articles in our SMARTnews Blog & Resource Center.

About The Lightning Press SMARTbooks. Recognized as a “whole of government” doctrinal reference standard by military, national security and government professionals around the world, SMARTbooks comprise a comprehensive professional library. SMARTbooks can be used as quick reference guides during operations, as study guides at education and professional development courses, and as lesson plans and checklists in support of training. Browse our collection of Military Reference SMARTbooks to learn more.

Subscribe to the SMARTnews mailing list!

* indicates required