JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) commanding general, led a group of Army and Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, panelists in a discussion on homeland security at the Association of the United States Army, or AUSA, annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Oct. 5.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson provided opening remarks, highlighting the importance of unity of effort between DHS and the Army and praising the character of Soldiers with whom he had worked.
After Johnson’s opening remarks, Buchanan was joined by senior leaders from Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard to engage in a dialogue on the partnership amongst the Army and DHS in defending and securing the homeland.
Buchanan echoed Johnson’s emphasis on unity of effort, stating that the best way to achieve unity of effort is for everyone to keep their eyes focused on the purpose.
“Rather than focusing on a list of tasks, if we all keep our focus on what we are trying to achieve and in support of whom, there will be fewer friction points,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan said he is trying to mirror the DHS Secretary’s vision for attaining unity of effort at ARNORTH by pursuing efficiency and effectiveness.
“The homeland is DOD’s number one priority,” Buchanan said. “When the nation calls, the Total Army and Department of Defense are prepared and ready to support.”
Army North provides 10 defense coordinating officers, all Regular Army colonels, supported by qualified staffs. They are co-located in the 10 FEMA regional headquarters and engage daily with interagency partners, building relationships that enable close coordination, communication and collaboration.
Buchanan emphasized that DOD will always be in a supporting role in the homeland.
“We measure our success based on how well we contribute to the success of others,” he said, highlighting the importance of established partnerships and relationships to influencing that success.
Other panelists continued the theme of partnership and unity of effort.
Kevin McAleenan, deputy commissioner for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said, “Our partnership with the Army is huge and productive, and it goes on every day. We greatly value that partnership.” Joseph Nimmich, FEMA deputy administrator, spoke about the positive growth of the relationship between FEMA and DOD since Hurricane Katrina.
Robert Salesses, deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Integration and Defense Support of Civil Authorities, or DSCA, praised the efforts of all DOD and DHS organizations toward accomplishing unity of effort.
“The Department of Defense is better prepared to execute its homeland defense and DSCA missions than at any time in the DOD’s history,” Salesses said.