Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper has modified and accelerated the process for how the Department of Defense authorizes the use of National Guard forces under Title 32 Section 502(f).
The modification creates a conditional pre-authorization in response to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requests that ensures quicker federal funding for State National Guard forces mobilizing to aid in whole-of-government COVID-19 response efforts.
“This authorization enables your timely use of the National Guard to save lives and protect public health and safety,” Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper said in a letter to each Governor sent Friday night. “The men and women of the National Guard are Citizen-Soldiers who stand ready to serve their communities as we fight COVID-19.”
The authorization is subject to several conditions:
1. The States and territories or FEMA must identify specific requirements for COVID-19 support in accordance with the Stafford Act.
2. For requirements originating from the States and territories, these requests must be submitted to FEMA
3. FEMA then provides the Department of Defense with a fully reimbursable mission assignment.
Noting that FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center is the single point of entry for all requests for assistance, Secretary Esper told the governors that DOD will immediately approve requests meeting these conditions.
This action is one more measure the Department of Defense is taking to assist our interagency partners in the effort to check the advance of COVID-19.
By Jonathan Hoffman, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs