Army University Public Affairs
The Command and General Staff College’s Cultural and Area Studies Office hosted its second panel briefing of the year entitled “The Changing Landscape of Homeland Security in Light of the Pandemic and Societal Unrest” July 24 in the Lewis and Clark Center’s Arnold Conference Room. Two panelists shared data and analysis of the situational environment.
Dr. Mahir Ibrahimov, CASO director, organized the event and served as the moderator. Only the panel members and technical staff were present for the first virtual panel sponsored by CASO.
The panelists were retired Col. Mark Kerry, chief of the Planning Division, Department of Homeland Security, Joint Incident Advisory Group, Washington, D.C., and Robert Garven, assistant professor in CGSC’s Department of Army Tactics. Kerry joined the panel via videoteleconference from his headquarters in Washington.
Col. Scott Green, director of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff School, CGSC, provided opening remarks. Green noted that CASO, in conjunction with its many partners, continues the discussion of many of the most important topics in support of U.S. national defense and national security objectives across the spectrum of conflict, including the possibility of large-scale combat operations.
Kerry summed up the current environment saying COVID-19, civil unrest, nation-state threats, disasters and great-power competition has exposed gaps in U.S. strategic planning. The solution, he said, requires a whole-of-government approach.
“This environment has certainly impacted DHS and DoD operations,” he said.
Since the events of 2017, which included the North Korean ballistic missile threat and massive storms and hurricanes, the pandemic and widespread civil unrest have added additional threats to the environment.
“How do we address all these things?” Kerry asked.
He suggested the establishment of a U.S. government agency with an enduring, dedicated, systemic, interagency planning cell. He also called for the creation of a mechanism and organizational architecture to support a whole-of-government response to national security events.
Garven explained CGSC’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities and Homeland Security Studies Programs including 15 electives offered within the Command and General Staff Officer Course. He touched on a number of natural disasters, epidemics, additional capabilities of major power states, and terrorism issues that have changed the security environment.
The military support civil authorities to save lives, restore essential services, maintain or restore law and order, protect infrastructure and property, support maintenance and restoration of local government, and shape the environment for intergovernmental success, Garven said. He noted that only happens by request from civilian authority and that when supporting civil action, civilians are always in charge.
Garven covered the four major legal considerations for use of Defense assets in support of civilian authorities — the Insurrection Act of 1807, Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, Economy Act of 1982, and Robert T. Stafford Act of 1988.
Following the presentations by the panelists, Ibrahimov led a question-and-answer discussion that touched on the details of their comments.
This panel is part of a series of seminars or panel discussions on issues of operational and strategic importance to the U.S., which CASO in coordination with CGSC, universities, think tanks, interagency and other partners conducts every two to three months, broadcasting them through videoteleconference and live on CGSC’s Facebook page. Videos of the sessions are available on the CGSC Facebook and YouTube sites.