US Army North (USARNORTH)
Fifth US Army
US Army North (USARNORTH), as the Joint Force Land Component Command (JFLCC) and Army Service Component Command (ASCC) to US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), conducts homeland defense, civil support operations, and theater security cooperation activities in order to protect the American people and their way of life. USARNORTH is based at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
USARNORTH had been conceived in 2004 as the dedicated Army Service Component Command to US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the unified command responsible for defending the US homeland and coordinating defense support of civil authorities. USARNORTH achieved initial operating capability in September 2005. USARNORTH achieved full operating capability in October 2006 and on 16 October 2006, Fifth US Army was formally reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters, United States Army North (USARNORTH), to consist of Main Command Post and Operational Elements. The redesignated unit switched from its previous role focused on training and mobilization of forces to one focused on homeland defense and security. After the redesignation, the Fifth US Army title remained associated with the unit, with Fifth US Army's heraldry being similarly being redesignated for USARNORTH without any modification.
Although homeland security was not a specific military mission, medical commanders had to plan for and be prepared to support a primary agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) event. Various federal statutory authorities and policies provided the basis for federal actions and activities in the context of domestic incident management. The National Response Framework (NRF) used the foundation provided by the Homeland Security Act, Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) -5, and the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) to provide a comprehensive, all-hazards approach to domestic incident management.
Under its theater security cooperation mission, USARNORTH worked with partner nations in the region to enhance North American homeland defense by engaging with US neighbors' armies to build partner capacity and to enhance interoperability. The USARNORTH theater security cooperation mission expanded after its formation. With the designation of USARNORTH as a standing Joint Force Land Component Command for USNORTHCOM, USARNORTH had greater responsibility for the land domain and the land approaches.
USARNORTH's engagements with Canada were through staff-level cooperation and coordination with Canada command and the Canada land staff. During 2008, USARNORTH hosted a conference with all 6 Canadian regional joint task force commanders at USARNORTH headquarters at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. USARNORTH and its operational counterparts for domestic operations in Canada conducted a table-top exercise to practice a coordinated response to a catastrophic event along our common border. A highlight of this conference was the signing by the commander, USNORTHCOM and the commander, Canada command of the bi-national CANUS Civil Assistance Plan (CAP). USARNORTH was interested in applying the plan to future combined exercises with Canada command and evaluating it for further enhancements to the homeland defense posture.
USARNORTH's theater security cooperation program included increased dialogue in developing interoperability between the US and Mexican military to counter drug trafficking cartels, detect and mitigate weapons of mass destruction, combat terrorism, and prepare for disasters, all contributing to an increase in homeland defense capabilities. USARNORTH hosted an annual Border Commanders Conference with Mexico's Secretary of National Defense in El Paso, Texas. Commanders from Mexico's 3 military region headquarters who were at the forefront of their war against organized criminal elements met with US border commanders to compare experiences and share information. As with Canada, the key Army border commanders in the land domain from Mexico and the US have an opportunity to meet regularly, discuss common border issues and enhance bi-national interoperability. Unlike the new conference with Canada, USARNORTH (previously designated Fifth US Army) had been conducting an annual BCC with Mexico since 1987.
These events were just a few of a myriad of theater security cooperation activities that USARNORTH conducted with its neighbors to enhance North American homeland defense in the land domain. From regular cross-border training activity with Canada to foreign military sales and formal schools with Mexico, USARNORTH continued in the mid- and late-2000s to enhance the program to meet the requirements laid out by the USNORTHCOM commander.
USARNORTH assumed responsibility for operational control of Joint Task Force – Civil Support (JTF-CS) and Joint Task Force – North (JTF-N) in October 2008.
US Army North worked to increase its ability to rapidly support federal, state and local first responders with the delivery of 24 emergency response vehicles. The equipment would provide critical communications from the scene of a disaster. The first Sentinel and MC-2 Emergency Response Vehicles were scheduled for delivery to USARNORTH Headquarters, and to regional Defense Coordinating Elements in Atlanta and Denton, Texas, in August 2009. The vehicles were designed to act as mobile emergency command centers and provide self-sustained, uninterrupted telephone, radio and internet service in any type of environment.
The MC-2 ERV was a mobile communications center mounted inside a Chevy Suburban. These vehicles were to be fielded to the Defense Coordinating Elements that were co-located with 10 regional Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters throughout the US. Additional vehicles were to also be used by USARNORTH's Operational Command Posts that could deploy in response to requests for Department of Defense supportduring a disaster. The MC-2 ERV allowed operators to send and receive messages across a wide spectrum of radio frequencies. Additionally, with the roof mounted satellite dish, operators were able to access both secure and non-secure communications and radio frequencies.
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