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MİLİTARY ACTİVATES NEVER-BEFORE-USED FEDERAL RESPONSE TO COMBAT CORONAVİRUS

The Pentagon established a "rumor control" website to beat down three myths: that the U.S. military has federalized the National Guard, that it was instituting a mandatory national lockdown, and that it was implementing martial law.

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Tarih: 28-03-2020 19:31

MİLİTARY ACTİVATES NEVER-BEFORE-USED FEDERAL RESPONSE TO COMBAT CORONAVİRUS

 While being hit with coronavirus at rates equivalent to the civilian population, the U.S. military has activated its "defense support of civil authorities" apparatus, establishing liaisons in all 50 states, activating units and command posts, and moving forces to provide medical, transportation, logistics, and communications support in New York and Washington states.

Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, the command of Army North (ARNORTH), has requested and received approval for the deployment of ground units in response to the now declared national emergency. The moves begin to implement two existing contingency plans—CONPLAN 3400 for "homeland defense" and CONPLAN 3500 for "defense support of civil authorities"—as well as numerous new orders specifically relating to coronavirus. Eighteen states have also moved to appoint "dual-status commanders," specially appointed National Guard officers who serve in both state and federal chains of command. The dual-status commanders will report to Gen. Richardson as well as the governors of each state.

The federal military response, never before activated on a nationwide scale, is a patchwork of complex organizational schemes. While Gen. Richardson is the commander of the Joint Forces Land Component Command for all federal ground troops in the continental United States and Alaska, another command—U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC)—is responsible for Hawaii and the Pacific territories, reporting not to U.S> Northern Command in Colorado but to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii. As "maritime" assets, the two hospital ships—the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy—are also under a separate command, the Navy's Fleet Forces Command, which also serves as Naval Forces North (NAVNORTH) and the Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander for North America. Still another command, Marine Forces North (MARFORNORTH) operates side-by-side with ARNORTH, in charge of Marine Corps troops.

In total, approximately Army North has deployed 1,100 servicemembers assigned to specific units, and they have started moving to New York and Washington states. The active duty units deployed include:

Joint Task Force-Civil Support Headquarters, Fort Eustis, Virginia
3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
4th Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado
63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, Fort Stewart, Georgia
Joint Task Force-Civil Support was initially established in 1999 as the domestic response authority in case involving weapons of mass destruction—chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN). According to its website, "when directed, JTF-CS will deploy to an incident site, establish command and control of Department of Defense forces, and provide military assistance and support to civil authorities by saving lives, preventing further injury and providing temporary critical support to enable community recovery."

"Although primarily charged with a CBRN response mission," the Joint Task Force says, it "could be directed to respond to a natural or man-made disaster if asked to do so by U.S Northern Command."

To align with the ten FEMA regions responsible for emergency management, Army North has activated its ten Defense Coordinating. These are a specialized planning cells, led by a senior Army colonel, that serve as military liaison to coordinate federal assistance. Another 100 Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers are also augmenting the Defense Coordination cells.

The Pentagon announced Thursday that dual-status commanders had already been appointed in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington. Ten other states are awaiting governor and White House approval.

"The role of the dual-status commander is that he works for two different principals through two different chains of command," says Army Maj. Gen. Giselle Wilz, head of the National Guard Bureau's strategic plans and policy directorate.

As of Thursday, close to 11,400 Guard members were activated and working in all 54 states, territories and the District of Columbia.

In announcing the activation and movement of forces on Thursday, Army North was careful to specific, "They will not directly participate in civilian law enforcement activities."

Similarly, Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday: "I'm hearing unfounded rumors about National Guard troops supporting a nationwide quarantine. Let me be clear: There has been no such discussion."

Because of so many rumors flying in social media, the Pentagon said Thursday it was going to limit details of both the specific numbers of coronavirus cases and operational details.

"Unit level readiness data for key military forces is information that is classified as a risk to operational security and could jeopardize operations and/or deterrence," Alyssa Farah, the Pentagon's press secretary, told Military Times. "If at some point in the future, a commander believes that the coronavirus could affect the readiness of our strategic deterrent or strategic response forces we would understandably protect that information from public release and falling into the hands of our adversaries―as we expect they would do the same."

As of Thursday, the Defense Department reported 574 confirmed cases of coronavirus throughout its community: 280 servicemembers, 134 civilians working for the military, 98 family members and 62 contractors.

newsweek




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