WASHINGTON—The nation’s governors today applauded the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012. The legislation includes two top priorities for governors: codifying the role of a Dual Status Commander during an emergency response to a natural disaster and giving the National Guard a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Governors across the country have had long-standing concerns about coordination of military support activities during disaster responses and have been working closely with Congress through NGA and the Council of Governors to address these challenges. The Dual Status Commander legislation will help ensure unity of effort by state and federal military forces, thereby saving lives, protecting property and more effectively and efficiently drawing upon all appropriate resources.
“Nothing is more important to governors than protecting the people of our states," said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, co-chair of the Council of Governors (COG). “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. A Dual Status Commander is key to this effort."
Dual Status Command allows a National Guard officer or a commissioned federal military officer to simultaneously direct both state and federal military forces. This 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 is imperative to ensuring a rapid and effective disaster response,” said Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, co-chair of the COG. “Dual Status Command ensures that when state and federal military forces are deployed for a domestic emergency they know who is in charge. This helps ensure that all levels of government can operate seamlessly together to save lives and perform other critical missions.”
Additionally, this legislation provides the National Guard Chief a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, giving civilian leaders direct access to information on the Guard’s domestic-response capabilities and expertise.
“I applaud Congress on its decision to add the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This reflects the tremendous contributions of the National Guard over the last decade both at home and overseas,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, co-chair of the NGA Homeland Security and Public Safety (HSPS) Committee and a member of the COG. “Together with the passage of the Dual Status Commander provision, we can make certain that every governor has the resources needed to protect the people of their state in times of crisis.”
“The passage of the Defense Authorization Act, which includes two major priorities of the nation’s governors, is an example of the successes that can be attained when state and federal governments work together,” said Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, co-chair of the NGA HSPS Committee and a member of the COG. “Avoiding duplication of effort is key to emergency response and providing the National Guard Chief a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff will help ensure that the Guard’s critical homeland defense and emergency response mission is appropriately represented in critical defense policymaking and budgetary decisions.”
The 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 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.
The NGA Special Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety has jurisdiction over issues regarding homeland security, the National Guard and homeland defense, criminal justice and public safety, and veterans’ affairs.
Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington, D.C.’s, most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit www.nga.org.