Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reserve PSYOP and Homeland Defense

Today’s Washington Post reported that SecDef Gates has asked the military to review their roles, responsibilities and capabilities to cope with Homeland Defense in addition to the current Warfighter missions. (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/24/AR2008112402456.html)

PSYOP is likely to be in the forefront of any military mission associated with Homeland Defense because it is the only practical means a military commander would have to inform the population of actions they need to take (e.g. store extra food and water), actions to avoid (e.g. curfew enforcement) and information (where to gather or obtain medical help, etc.)

PSYOP will undoubtedly be integrated into the Emergency Support Functions (ESF) supporting FEMA efforts that will be activated to deal with the situation. The various ESF are:

ESF#1 - Transportation

ESF#2 - Communications

ESF#3 - Public Works and Engineering

ESF#4 - Firefighting

ESF#5 - Emergency Management

ESF#6 - Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing and Human Services

ESF#7 - Logistics Management and Resource Support

ESF#8 - Public Health and Medical Services

ESF#9 - Search and Rescue

ESF #10 - Oil and Hazardous Materials Response

ESF#11 -Agriculture and Natural Resources

ESF#12 Energy

ESF#13 - Public Safety and Security

ESF#14 - Long Term Community Recovery

ESF#15 External Affairs

Homeland Defense missions may be actually fraught with more tension thancombat missions because the activity is taking place in the soldier’s homeland and perhaps even his or her neighborhood and because USAR PSYOP forces in are not trained in Homeland Defense or domestic activities, and have no on-going interaction with DHS or other domestic agencies that would likely be involved with domestic incidents.

As a minimum PSYOP units should consider developing contingency plans and on-call rosters. Homeland defense missions will likely occur without significant warning and require rapid response. Commanders would do well to integrate homeland contingency deployments with their home station training and to exercise teams with short, no-notice exercises. In addition selected personnel should be encouraged to become familiar with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and to complete a pre-determined minimum number of courses. This can be done on-line at http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/nims_training.shtm. Furthermore, RSTs and other resources should be employed to pay soldiers for their time and encourage participation.

The National Planning Scenarios (see http://www.dhs.gov/xprepresp/publications/gc_1189788256647.shtm) can form the basis of ODP and NCODP sessions and provide great CPX materials. Creative trainers can transplant and adjust the various NPS to suit their particular needs and geographic areas of emphasis.

September 11 taught us the lesson of being unprepared and the critical need for organizational interoperability, let’s hope we have learned it.

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