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In Katrina’s Wake: Rethinking the Military’s Role in Domestics Emergencies
Laws and Regulations
SFC Patrick O. Jones
Master Leader Course 002-19
09 November 2018


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In August of 2005 New Orleans, Louisiana was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina was ranked a category 5 hurricane that struck the Gulf Coast causing catastrophic damage from central Florida to eastern Texas. New Orleans was flooded due to fatal engineering flaws in the flood protection system. The damage was consider catastrophic covering 93,000 square miles, destroying or rendered 300, 000 homes uninhabitable, displacing about 770,000 residents. The total fatalities for Hurricane Katrina was 1,836 people, 600,000 were killed or homeless. The true total cost of hurricane Katrina was 250 billion. () Failing to utilize the Laws and Regulations set in place for unfortunate natural disaster could have saved lives. Laws like the Posse Comitatus Act, The Stafford Act, Title 10, Title 14, and Title 32 should have put in place immediately upon warning that the hurricane was approaching.

The definition of Posse Comitatus is the power of a county. The entire body of inhabitants who may be summoned by the sheriff to assist in preserving the public peace (as in a riot) or in executing a legal precept that is forcibly opposed including under the common law every male inhabitant who is about 15 years of age and not infirm, a body of persons so summoned. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 to enacted in an effort in effort to reaffirm the deeply held American principle that civilian and military worlds be completely separate. Congress put this law in to effect to stop the federal government from using Military troops for domestic affairs. Such as any typical law enforcement actions, including arrests, searching of the public or handle any evidence. Congress permits the Military to be used at the request of states authorities is the exception to the Posse Comitatus Act.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (The Stafford Act) authorizes the president to give aide in times of a disaster or emergency in response to catastrophes or major disasters in the United States when the state is overwhelmed. The Stafford act authorizes the delivery of federal technical, financial, logistical, and other assistance to states and localities during declared major disasters or emergencies. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers aid in three categories under the Stafford Act offers are individuals and household, tribal and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations, and state governments.
The John Warner National Defense Authorization Act provides new authority

for the calling up and assignment of duties to national guard troops. Members of the

Armed Forces reserves who are members of the National Guard and in full-duty statues are authorized to perform duties, as assigned, due to the intentional or unintentional release of toxic or poisonous material that does or might result in catastrophic losses. The new provision authorizes the President to use the National Guard to restore public order if a “natural disaster,
epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident” prevents state authorities from maintaining public order. In addition, the act authorizes the President to direct the Secretary of Defense to provide specified supplies and equipment, under limitations, to those affected by such situations. Other laws were put in place for states in time of need such as Title 10, Tile 14, and Title 32 pertaining to the National Guard the govern when and how these laws can be activated.

Title 32 was put into play, stating that the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard is an essential and integral part of the first line of defense of the United States of America. Title 32 is federally funded and Army National Guard soldiers can be put on these orders during a time of emergency. Title 10 can be put into play during times of civil unrest, a few examples are riots, state emergencies such as the oil spill that happened in 2010 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Soldiers were put on Title 10 orders to help with putting up barriers to stop the oil from reaching the shore. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary can be under activate under Title 14 to enforce the laws of the high seas and waters with its jurisdiction.

In conclusion knowing what we know now about the devestation of a hurricane like Katrina, the laws and regulations should be used in a better manner. Foreseeing the worst case scenario and having a plan of action, utilize all of the resources you have available to act in a timely manner during times of emergencies.


Longley, Robert. (2018, June 14). Posse Comitatus Act and the US Military on the Border. Retrieved from

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq. “States” include U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

Public Law, Statute, and Regulations
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988. Pub. L. No. 100-707. Codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207.

Federal Emergency Management Policy Changes
After Hurricane Katrina: A Summary of Statutory Provisions P.L. 109-63, 119 Stat. 1993-1996.

(As Amended Through January 7, 2011)
Vol. III—Subtitles B–E (§§ 3001–end)

“Title 32 of the United States Code, entitled ‘National Guard’, is revised, codified, and enacted into law, and may be cited as ‘Title 32, United States Code

positive law by act Aug. 4, 1949, ch. 393, § 1, 63 Stat. 495, which provided in part that: ”Title 14 of the United States Code, entitled ‘Coast Guard’,

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