RC # 14 "Teams of Leaders" – Potential Disaster Operations Force Multiplier

Part 1 of a four part discussion of the Team of Leaders (TOL) concept presented in America’s Army: A Model for Interagency Effectiveness by Zeb Bradford and Frederic Brown.
   By Dag K.J.E. von Lubitz and James E. Beakley (adapted from an article in review for publication in an on-line peer review journal)

      Rapidly increasing complexity of its operational environment notwithstanding, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to be affected by the difficulties imposed by its own administrative structure, the need to interact with other federal/state/local bureaucracies, vertical chain of commands, and professional isolationism of the principal actors involved in all stages of preparation, response, and post disaster recovery, and mitigation effort.  Despite recent introduction by DHS of its “operational doctrine” (National Response Framework – NRF) that adds and expands upon the principles of the existing National Incident Management System (NIMS) the problems persist.  Similar issues of internal discord, unclear future, and inadequate force preparation for the rapidly expanding mission portfolio led the US Army (USA) to adapt entirely new approach to the solution of these critical issues. 

      Consequent to the introduced changes, the character of the “new” Army has been revolutionized: it is now fully aligned to serve the national needs not only in its traditional role of force projection, but also as an important tool in the development of international stability, nation-building assistance to the emerging democracies, humanitarian relief operations, etc.

      One of the critical concepts that emerged in the process of Army’s transformation into an unprecedentedly versatile instrument of national strategy is that of “Teams of Leaders” (ToL).  The authors propose adaptation of ToL by the DHS and other associated departments and Agencies as the principal “force multiplier” which will permit to enhance inter- and intra-agency collaboration and improve the efficiency of missions executed under the joint umbrella of Homeland Security and Defense. 


      When, two hundred years ago, a representative of the British Empire had to deal with a sudden crisis arising in his distant domain, he was expected to address it using “own initiative” and a set of sketchy, often irrelevant, and always out-of-date instructions from London.  The “man on the spot,” be it a military commander or a civil servant ruled supreme, deciding and living (or perishing) based on the decisions made.  The C3 of today’s world – Command, Control, and Communications was functionally limited to only one:  “Command.”  It was “independent” in every sense, demanding initiative, often vision, and always flexibility and adaptability.  “Control” consisted of the vague “intent” provided sporadically by the distant seat of power.  A frigate and the dispatches carried by her captain were the only means of “Communications.” (Willis, 2008)

      The age of information entered its neonatal stage with the question of “What hath God wrought?” transmitted via a copper wire strung between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore by Samuel Morse on the 24th of May 1844.  By 1861 the telegraph line connected the East and West coast of the US; telegraph stations blossomed throughout the globe, and twenty years later all major powers connected to each other and to their remote outposts by a vast network of overland and submarine cables.  The “C” of “Command” changed: gone was the independence of the “man on the spot” and the faith in his judgment as the best source of solutions to distant problems.  The C of “Communications” arrived with a vengeance, and together with it the final “C” of “Control.”  The central bureaucracies of Berlin, London, Moscow, Paris, and Washington were now disseminating their directives at will, demanded detailed reports, imposed conditions, and assumed control of even the most distant actions (Winston, 1998).  The world arrived at the modern meaning of C3 - Command, Control, and Communications.  The fusion of information and disaster “management” occurred almost exactly 60 years later. 


      On August 27, 1884 a tiny volcanic island of Krakatoa detonated: the resultant tsunami killed nearly 40.000 people, and devastated hundreds of Sumatra’s coastal villages.  For the first time in the history of the world all actors involved in “modern” disasters: the victims, politicians, rescuers, armed forces, police, healthcare services, media, well-wishers, thieves, and religious zealots entered the stage in concerted unison (Winchester, 2003.)  The sound of the detonation, loud and prophetic as it might have been, had not been heard clearly enough to warrant major changes in the way disasters were handled: it took nearly 100 years and several cataclysms before the world’s first agency specifically tasked with the disaster management has been created in 1979 by the Executive Order of President Carter (Rubin, 2007.)Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was a uniquely US organization. 


      While in several other countries (e.g., Germany, UK, Russia, Canada) the task of developing preparedness against major disasters and managing their consequences was (and is) under the purview of either ministries of interior or state/local authorities and their respective law enforcement, emergency response, search and rescue, and civil defense, FEMA emerged as a national organization charged with federal-level coordination of essentially all civilian functions related to managing and recovery from a wide range of disasters.  Its thrust was directed strictly at homeland defense.  The issues of national security were the purview of other agencies such as the Departments of Justice, Defense, Treasury, or CIA.  Hence, FEMA had neither the interest nor judicial mandate to be directly involved in issues other than those related to natural and both intentional and unintentional man-made disasters.  Homeland security was the exclusive domain of others.


      The widely disparate world of multiple and often redundant federal departments and agencies responsible for national security was not the one to develop consistent measures adequate to assure such security.  Lack of cooperation bordering on internecine warfare, virtually non-existent communication based on narrowly understood or even parochial “need-to-know” rules fractioned the effort, hampered coordination, and joint understanding of potential dangers (e.g., Marcella, 2004, Dahl 2007).  As a result, the indicators of clear presence of such dangers (e.g., 1983 bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut, car bombing of US military personnel in Saudi Arabia in 1995 followed by Khobal Towers attack in 1996, WTC attack in 1993, USS Cole in 2000, etc.), while not entirely dismissed, have not been recognized as the extreme threats to the nation’s well-being.  Too many of these events took place on the foreign soil too distant to be truly felt by the US public. 
      Consequently, while the nation might not have been fully asleep at dawn, it was not fully awake either.  The 11th September 2001 was the harshest possible introduction of the US (and the rest of the Western world) to the gravity of dangers it faced (e.g., National Commission: 9/11 Final Report).

















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