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Defense coordinating element (DCE)

Definition The Defense Coordinating Element (DCE) is a military-operating body responsible for managing requests for Department of Defense (DoD) support during domestic emergencies. The DCE is the primary point of contact for federal and state agencies, and its tasks include validating, planning and coordinating the execution of DoD support activities. It operates under the direction […]

Definition

The Defense Coordinating Element (DCE) is a military-operating body responsible for managing requests for Department of Defense (DoD) support during domestic emergencies. The DCE is the primary point of contact for federal and state agencies, and its tasks include validating, planning and coordinating the execution of DoD support activities. It operates under the direction of the Defense Coordinating Officer.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Defense Coordinating Element (DCE) represents the Department of Defense (DoD) in disaster-stricken areas, working in collaboration with Federal, state, and local authorities tasked with disaster response and recovery.
  2. DCE primarily assists in processing requirements for military support, facilitating requests from the primary Federal Agency to the appropriate military services, and assessing the suitability of military units to fulfill requested support.
  3. The DCE consists of a Defense Coordinating Officer, Defense Coordinating Officer’s staff and an Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer, who play crucial roles in coordinating and supporting emergency operations, assisting in the identification of DoD resources, and informing Federal and State partners about DoD capabilities.

Importance

The Defense Coordinating Element (DCE) holds significant importance in military operations due to its role in managing and coordinating Department of Defense (DoD) and other national security resources in response to domestic incidents.

The DCE acts as the crucial link between federal military forces and civil authorities, ensuring that resources are efficiently allocated in situations such as disaster response or civil disturbances.

They aid in the process of planning, coordinating, and integrating defense support in case of emergencies.

Keeping communication clear and preventing misunderstandings, the DCE ensures a smooth and effective operational response, bolstering the efficacy of military aid in domestic incidents.

Explanation

The Defense Coordinating Element’s (DCE) primary function is to streamline coordination and support between the Department of Defense (DoD) and civil authorities during domestic emergencies or incidents. The DCE serves as the DoD’s first response element, representing the Defense Department at a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional level during any incident that may necessitate DoD assistance.

Thus, the DCE acts as a bridge, ensuring seamless and efficient coordination between different entities. There are ten DCEs strategically positioned throughout various regions in the U.S., each with a dedicated Defense Coordinating Officer and staff.

These nominated personnel work closely with local, state, tribal, territorial, and federal partners to plan for and respond to a wide range of incidents. The DCE is typically activated in situations where they can provide unique capabilities and resources, such as disaster response or recovery, special security events, and National Special Security Events (NSSE). Their end goal is to promptly avail resources, expertise, and aid where needed, in a coordinated and efficient manner.

Examples of Defense coordinating element (DCE)

Hurricane Katrina Response: One of the most significant examples of DCE was during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the United States in

The Defense Coordinating Element was the primary Department of Defense (DoD) point of contact for federal agencies in the response effort. They coordinated resources and were responsible for processing, coordinating, and overseeing the assignment of all DOD support requested by FEMA.

Defense Support in the Covid-19 Pandemic: In this pandemic, DoD activated a Defense Coordinating Element to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in coordinating federal assistance and response operations. The DCE coordinated with FEMA and other agencies to provide medical facilities, logistical aid, and other necessary resources.

Earthquake Relief Operation in Haiti 2010: When an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, the U.S. Department of Defense established a Defense Coordinating Element to assist with coordinating relief operations. In this situation, the DCE handled the task of working with the United Nations, the Haitian government, and numerous non-governmental organizations, ensuring that relief efforts were synchronized effectively.

FAQs: Defense Coordinating Element (DCE)

What is a Defense Coordinating Element (DCE)?

A Defense Coordinating Element (DCE) is a team from the Department of Defense (DoD) that supports federal emergency preparation, response, and recovery operations in the United States. It serves as the DoD’s primary interface with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

What is the role of a DCE?

The role of a DCE is to liaise with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in coordinating the use of federal military personnel and resources for domestic emergencies. The DCE provides professional military advice to FEMA and carries out military tasks that are within the scope of the incident management mission.

Where is the DCE located?

The Defense Coordinating Element is located at each FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) and their respective Regional Administrators. They can also be activated to other locations based on the need and type of incident.

How is the DCE activated?

The DCE is activated when the president or Secretary of Defense, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), determines that a situation requires support from the Department of Defense (DoD). The DCE then coordinates with all local, state, federal, tribal and territorial agencies involved in the incident.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Military Department Emergency Support Teams (MDESTs): They cooperate with the DCE in providing necessary support during emergencies.
  • Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA): DCE plays a prominent role in this, assisting during domestic incidents.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): The DCE communicates with FEMA to mobilize resources during emergencies.
  • Joint Field Office (JFO): The site where DCE and other agencies coordinate during major incidents.
  • Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO): the lead for DCE, providing defense coordination with federal agencies and state departments.

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