The nation's governors applaud the historic work of the Council of Governors (CoG) in addressing long-standing concerns regarding disaster response across the country and encouraged Congress in a letter to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to include legislation in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.
During the recent CoG meeting, CoG co-chairs Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire expressed governors' unanimous support for a model Memorandum of Agreement, which would expedite the appointment of a dual status commander during complex emergencies involving federal and state military forces. They also expressed governors' strong support for legislation that would codify the dual status commander arrangement and authorize the call-up of federal reserve forces to assist in a disaster response at the request of a governor. The CoG co-chairs also sent a letter today to the committees.
"Avoiding duplication of effort when responding to a disaster is critical to ensuring a rapid and effective disaster response," said Gov. Branstad. "Dual Status Command ensures that when state and federal military forces are deployed for a domestic emergency they know who is in charge. I am pleased that we were able to join together with our federal partners and determine the best plan for our states and the nation."
"Protecting our citizens and responding to their needs during a disaster is a top priority to the nation's governors," said Gov. Gregoire. "We have worked closely with federal officials to ensure that in times of need, governors can respond quickly, effectively and in coordination to ensure immediate response. We look forward to continued discussions and coordination with our federal counterparts."
Dual Status Command allows a National Guard officer or a commissioned federal military officer to simultaneously direct both state and federal military forces. The Dual Status Command appointment requires presidential authorization and approval by the affected governor. State and federal forces remain separate and distinct, but the appointment authorizes the Dual Status Commander to direct the operations of all forces, ensuring unity of effort during complex emergency responses.
NGA Chair Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman and NGA Vice Chair Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said in their letter that this proposal represents an "historic agreement between states and the federal government." They noted that the appointment of a dual status commander will "ensure a coordinated response to domestic emergencies" and "addresses a long-standing concern of governors regarding joint operations involving the National Guard and federal military forces."
Governors look forward to working with Congress to ensure that legislation to codify this agreement is included in the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012.
CoG consists of 10 governors appointed by the President to focus on matters of national security, homeland defense, synchronization and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States and matters of mutual interest pertaining to the National Guard. In addition to Gov. Branstad and Gov. Gregoire, COG governors include: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer; Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie; Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley; Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon; North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue; Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño; Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.
In addition to the 10 council members, charter federal participants include the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, presidential homeland security and counterterrorism advisors, the commander of U.S. Northern Command, the commandant of the Coast Guard and the chief of the National Guard Bureau.