Colonel Jonathan Dodson, USA (Ret.), stopped by the DomesticPreparedness offices again to provide an updated briefing on the structure and workings of the National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters – State (JFHQ – State).  Following are excerpts from his remarks in response to questions from Managing Editor John F. Morton.

DomPrep:  Colonel, you have been studying the implementation of the National Guard’s Transformation Campaign Plan and what it means in terms of the military support the Guard provides to civil authorities and the individual states.  Please give our readers a little background here, if you would.

Colonel Dodson:  Sure, John.  When General Blum [Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, ARNG] became Chief of the National Guard Bureau [NGB] in April 2003, he initiated a comprehensive National Guard Bureau Transformation Campaign Plan.  The intent of this new NGB plan was, and is, to strengthen the Guard’s homeland-defense and domestic-operations – HD/DO – capabilities through initiatives focused on creating a truly Department of Defense Joint staff within the NGB that also could provide better support to the individual states and territories.

DomPrep:  What specifically did this mean for the states and territories?

Dodson: Well, the key was transforming the National Guard headquarters – the old State Area Commands, or STARCs – within each of the states and territories.  The STARCs were the 54 NGB headquarters throughout the nation responsible for coordination and integrated communications with all federal, state, local, and civil authorities, including the entire first-responder community.  The old STARC headquarters were based on Cold War doctrine – where the National Guard traditionally was viewed as a strategic reserve.  General Blum has made the point that the STARC headquarters were designed to mobilize units for what you might think of as the “scheduled away” game.  In other words, we were never directly concerned with the “unscheduled home game” – but now we are, of course.

DomPrep:  As the result of 9/11 … 

Dodson:  Exactly.  Now, these same headquarters must still provide trained and equipped forces for the Guard’s overseas, warfighting, expeditionary missions, but at the same time they now provide timely response assets to federal, state, and local officials.  For a state governor – or, as the case may be, for the District of Columbia – the JFHQ-State [Joint Force Headquarters – State] provides command-and-control links for all National Guard forces in a particular state or territory.  In that context, the JFHQ-State serves as a joint command-and-control structure in each state and territory that also is integrated into the national consequence-management and contingency-planning structures. The JFHQ-States provide a common operating picture to national-level headquarters before and during any contingency operation and joint reception, staging, and onward movements, and integration for all inbound military forces.

DomPrep:  Jon, please drill a little deeper into the Domestic Operations aspects of the NGB’s new mission portfolio.

Dodson:  For Domestic Operations, capitalizing on this relationship – and employed in a “State Active Duty” status – the National Guard can provide the interface needed between the law-enforcement and intelligence communities.  Operating through the State Emergency Operations Centers, the JFHQ-State can provide an information fusion capability for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the local level.  This same capability can be leveraged, though, to support NORTHCOM/PACOM [the DOD Northern and Pacific Commands] and the National Command Authority when coordinated through the National Guard Bureau Joint Operations Center either for Domestic Operations or for Homeland Defense.

DomPrep:  But the JFHQ-State configuration doesn’t compromise preparedness for the “away game,” does it?

Dodson:  No.  General Blum has made it very clear that the Guard fights jointly (with all the other services) and therefore needs to train and operate on a daily basis in a joint environment so that it can make that transition very quickly.  After all, its [the NGB’s] symbol is the Minuteman.  This “Initiatives” chart illustrates how the NGB 2003 Transformation Campaign plan established, across the nation, the various entities needed to meet the National Guard’s responsibilities to the states.  Along with the Joint Force Headquarters State (JFHQ-State), as you can see, you have the Critical Infrastructure Program-Mission Assurance Assessment [CIP-MAA] Teams – formerly FSIVA – the Civil Support Teams or CSTs, the National Guard CBRNE Enhanced-Response Force Package (CERFP), Expeditionary Medical Support [EMEDS] units, the National Guard Reaction Forces [NGRF], and the Joint CONUS Communications Support Environment [JCCSE].


DomPrep:  For the record, Jon, what does the official brief say about the JFHQ-State mission and its marching orders?

Dodson:  JFHQ-State is a C2 [command-and-control] headquarters for military forces.  It provides command and control of all National Guard forces in the state or territory for the governor – or, in the case of the District of Columbia, for the Secretary of the Army.  It also can act as a joint-services headquarters for the national-level response efforts carried out during contingency operations.  In short, it responds to an incident and provides command and control of deployed National Guard and any other military forces.  This capability gives the incident commander a “one-stop shopping” point for support.

DomPrep:  What about communications and situational awareness – two topics that General Blum himself has twice stressed in our interviews with him?

Dodson:  Well, each JFHQ-State has a Joint CONUS Communications Support Environment – which I just mentioned – that provides a National Homeland Security Communications capability that includes the equipment needed to establish basic communications services in extreme conditions – for example, when communications capabilities are damaged or destroyed.  As for situational awareness, it assists in the development of a common operating picture and helps coordinate multi-state activities.  JFHQ-State also will provide a single point of contact for NORTHCOM, PACOM, and other inter-agency stakeholders to receive current and accurate information from any of the 54 states and territories.

DomPrep:  What other relationships are involved besides NORTHCOM, PACOM, and so forth?

Dodson:  JFHQ-State maintains relationships with OASD-HD (DPO-MA) [the Defense Program Office for Mission Assurance in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense], SOUTHCOM, the Joint Staff, DTRA [the Defense Threat Reduction Agency], DCMA (Sector lead for DIB) [Defense Management Contract Agency Sector Lead for the Defense Industrial Base], DHS, and a broad spectrum of state and local agencies.  In short, the Joint Force Headquarters-State allows for a coordinated response that cuts across local, state, federal, and joint military lines.  In that context, I should add that the National Guard has almost completed the process of transforming the National Guard headquarters within all of the states and territories.

DomPrep:  JFHQ-State also would have tactical control of military units, right?

Dodson:  Yes.  Federal legislation gives governors the authority and ability to field a joint task force.  Working under that authority, JTF-State can assume tactical control of all military units, whether state National Guard units, other National Guard forces, and/or both Active and Reserve forces. The JTF-State commander can be a dual-hatted commander of both Title 32 USC and Title 10 USC forces.  This is exactly what happened in 2004 at the “G8” Economic Summit and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  So, JFHQ-State is a joint command and control structure in each state and territory.  It also is integrated into the national consequence-management and contingency-planning structures.  And the JFHQs also provide a common operating picture to national-level headquarters before and during any contingency operation as well as joint reception, staging, and onward movements, plus integration for all inbound military forces.     

DomPrep:  Jon, what can you tell us about a closely related subject – the Joint Task Force-State.

Dodson:  That’s a deployable unit of JFHQ-State.  The National Guard Joint Task Force-State [JTF-State] provides command and control for all state military assets deployed in support of civil authorities and/or in response to a specific incident.  It also facilitates the flow of information between JFHQ-State and deployed units.  When National Guard forces are deployed to support requests from civil authorities, a JTF-State may be created – under the JFHQ-State – to maintain command and control of those forces.  Frequently, for small operations, the task-force functions are carried out under jurisdiction of the adjutant general by the everyday JFHQ-State staff and only relatively small elements – such as a transportation unit, an aviation unit, or a CST – are deployed to support the request for assistance.  For larger-scale responses, the adjutant general usually will appoint one or more task-force commanders to JFT-States.

DomPrep:  What is the operational interface between the JTF-State commander and the incident commander?

Dodson:  They work closely with regard to situational awareness, response, and military support.  As the senior military commander at the site of an incident, the JTF-State commander also is responsible for all assigned military forces on the scene. If additional forces are required, the JTF-State commander can request that the JFHQ-State activate and deploy additional units.  Now, for response to a major incident, the JTF-State commander may have a variety of forces deployed – including but not necessarily limited to a WMD-CST [Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team], a CERFP [Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package], a reaction force, medical units, and various aviation and ground transportation units.

DomPrep:  Would a JTF-State commander ever be federalized?

Dodson:  Yes.  With the consent of the President of the United States, they [the JTF-State commanders] can also be called into federal service and at the same time continue service under state regulations so that they may command both regular (active component – “AC”) and National Guard or Reserve forces, thus facilitating a unity of effort for all military forces at the incident site.  Whatever the situation, though, I want to emphasize that the task force commander always works closely with and in support of the incident commander.

DomPrep:  That’s a lot to process all at the same time, Jon. Can you briefly summarize what the military support capabilities are that JFHQ-State and JTF-State provide to local and state first responders?

Dodson:  Yes. They provide command and control for all state military assets deployed in support of civil authorities and/or at the scene of an incident.  They facilitate the information flow between deployed units and the JFHQ-State.  They can activate and deploy additional forces, or deploy with a CST, a CERFP, a quick reaction force, and with medical, aviation, and ground transportation units.  In general, they work closely with the incident commander to ensure that the resources provided are effectively, safely, and legally employed.  The JTF commander is the senior commander on the scene and appointed by the TAG [The Adjutant General]. 

DomPrep:  Is there a formalized training program for the JFHQ-State implementation?

Dodson:  The National Guard Bureau has developed a methodology that fully addresses its Joint Training Program. The NGB will assist in the training and assessing of Joint Force Headquarters in each of the 54 states and territories by helping to build the Joint Mission-Essential Tasks, or JMETS, and Joint Training Plans that lead to and facilitate participation in joint exercises.     

DomPrep: I think our time is just about up, Jon. Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Dodson: Well, to summarize: The Joint Force Headquarters-State allows for a coordinated response that not only cuts across local, state, federal, and joint military lines but also focuses on both Domestic Operations and Homeland Defense – making up what we describe as the “dual missioned” National Guard at work for America. In General Blum’s words, the Joint Task Force-State “can, with state-federal concurrence, assume tactical control of all military units ordered to respond to a contingency operation or disaster.”

Jonathan Dodson

Jonathan Dodson, United States Army Retired, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy.  He has a Bachelor of Science from West Point, a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Ohio State University and a Master of Military Art and Science Degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.  He also graduated from the National War College. Jon Dodson served with the 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Vietnam and was an Assistant Professor on the academic faculty at West Point.  He finished out his more than 30 year Army career working in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army. He has worked on successive Quadrennial Defense Review’s; the National Defense Panel; and various WMD Domestic Preparedness/Consequence Management studies.  His experiences and work in Homeland Security plans and strategy involving the Department of Defense is one of his expertises.

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