Governors, Pentagon joust for command of domestic military forces

(RAW STORY)   The National Governors Association sent a letter Friday to the U.S. Department of Defense condemning an effort to usurp domestic control of National Guard and federal forces deployed in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

“Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R), chairman of the National Governors Association, and Vice Chairman Gov. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia penned [the] letter opposing the Pentagon proposal, which they said would hinder a state’s effort to respond to a disaster,” reported The Hill.

Douglas and Manchin wrote on behalf of the association: “We are concerned that the legislative proposal you discuss in your letter would invite confusion on critical command and control issues, complicate interagency planning, establish stove-piped response efforts, and interfere with governors’ constitutional responsibilities to ensure the safety and security of their citizens.”

“Without assigning a governor tactical control of [military] forces assisting in a response, and without the use of a dual-hatted National Guard commander to ensure coordination between [National Guard] and [federal] forces, strong potential exists for confusion in mission, execution and the dilution of governors’ control over situations with which they are more familiar and better capable of handing than a federal military commander,” the governors added, reported Congressional Quarterly.

The Hill noted that while the Pentagon’s proposal would provide additional Department of Defense personnel in the event of such an emergency, the governors say that current law already allows their deployment making the additional domestic powers unnecessary.

“A similar fix was removed from the Defense Department appropriation measure in conference committee for fiscal 2009,” the Washington, D.C. publication added.

The Pentagon had not respond to a request for comment at time of publication, CQ noted.

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