CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) and I Marine Expeditionary Force conducted exercise Citadel Rumble from Aug. 8 to Aug. 10, 2017. The exercise built upon lessons in mutual aid learned during exercises Semper Durus 2017 and Citadel Rumble 2016.
“It’s important for the MEF to participate alongside us,” said Scott Sharp, Plans Officer, Marine Corps Installations-West G 3/5. “When we execute this for real, we’re going to be executing it along with them. Building those relationships with the I Marine Expeditionary Force is key to real-world operations we may be conducting.”
The two-day exercise focused on planning between civilian and Department of Defense operations and the laws that govern when DoD agencies are tasked with providing support to civilian operations.
“It’s generally in a situation where the civilians are overwhelmed and they’re waiting for additional resources to come from outside resources,” said Jerry Vanlancker, Emergency Manager, MCI-West G-3/5. “Depending on the type of incident it could include helicopters to help fight wildland fires. It could be Marines setting up a unit to make fresh water. It just depends on the incident and how desperate they are for DoD assistance.”
Citadel Rumble 2017 was run by Navy Region Southwest and revolved around testing DoD response to requests for assistance in the case of natural disasters.
“We didn’t put boots on the ground, the fire department didn’t roll to go simulate an accident or go provide assistance to one of the local communities, locally it was the benefit of our crisis action team which populates our emergency operations center,” said Vanlancker. “They gained familiarity with the processes of receiving requests from civilian agencies for immediate response, and also to work up feasibility support requests so they could possibly generate a very detailed work order for DoD resources to respond to a very specific activity out in town.”
DoD directive 3025.18 establishes the DSCA policy that authorizes immediate response authority for DSCA. Such requests must to be in writing and include an offer to reimburse the DoD with only the President of the United States having the ability to direct any Federal agency to provide support on a non-reimbursable basis.
“I think it’s key to point out that there are a number of regulations and laws that govern what we can and cannot do.” said Sharp.
Requests for aid are evaluated based on cost, appropriateness, readiness, risk, legality and lethality after all civilian resources have been exhausted. DoD resources are used only when the needed response is beyond the capabilities of civil authorities and on a cost reimbursable basis with the minimum essential resources. The DoD, with exception of the National Guard and Coast Guard, is not authorized to offer law enforcement support as established by the Posse Comitatus Act except in the enforcement of federal law at the discretion of the POTUS.