Oil Spill Disaster – July 5 – Restoration Support Plan and comments

Readers are encouraged to check out the comments connected with this post, since they provide a variety of perspectives on the role of military in disasters.

Yet another new element to the long-term recovery plans and processes for the oil spill outcome.  On June 30th, President issued a Memorandum from the President on the Long-Term Gulf Coast Restoration Support Plan.  As published in the Federal Register , July 6. Some key aspects of the plan include:

(a) Led by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus; (b) Aimed at helping the affected residents to recover from the BP oil spill and to ensure that a similar crisis does not occur again; (c) Result in ensuring economic recovery, community planning, science-based restoration of the ecosystem and environment, public health and safety efforts, and support to affected third parties; and(d) Include a comprehensive assessment of post spill needs, short and long-term objectives and support to individuals and businesses who suffered losses due to the oil spill. Also, the plan should  consider the resources currently available to respond to the disaster and to use them to complement the ongoing oil spill efforts. Finally, Secretary Mabus would have to coordinate state, federal and other agencies.

First time the Navy has been involved in major civilian oil spill or any other disaster recovery. Should be an interesting study in public administration to see how he coordinates state and other agencies, not to mention the private and non-profit sector organizations involved. Note to Researchers:  great material for a study!

See additional commentary on the blog exchange  www.hlswatch.com, dated July 3.

13 thoughts on “Oil Spill Disaster – July 5 – Restoration Support Plan and comments

  1. Mr. Cumming, Mr. Beakley, Mr. Barham,
    Now that you have discussed your mutual points of view in front of the rest of us, it is time for action: joinf forces, work together, and DO rather than DEBATE.

  2. Well I can readily see that the “expanding torrent” theory applies to blogs as well as Liddell Hart’s vision of armoured ops.

    As stated earlier let’s just see where we (US) is on GOM catastrophe by Labor Day. If I were at DOD would recommend that the procurement arm start looking for alternative sources of fuel after Labor Day as opposed to BP!

    And of course looking forwards to the JOINTNESS of Ray Mabus’ team and its reconstruction plan design. As an example, the GOM Governors have already asked for mental health services so hoping that Governor Mabus will give that priority. Since we now know that Big Oil did not do much research on drilling issues other than find the oil, hoping DARPA will lead the charge. And finally how does the Ray Mabus assignment fit with HSPD-5?

  3. Mr. Cumming,
    Beakley articulated it all very well, and expanding on his comments would merely belabor the point well made. Hence, allow me to add that jointness is not measured in budgets, but in operational efficiency.

    Budgets of individual services are determined using their projected, individual strategic and operational needs. These are, in turn, defined in terms of serving the national strategy developed by the elected legislative body of the nation (i.e., the US Congress), the latter, by defining the appropriate strategy, assuring for a stable, safe, and prosperous existence of the nation at peace. To elucidate these points at depth, I will direct you to a splendid book by a British general, Sir Rupert Smith, “The Utility of Force” (Vintage, 2008). Here, to paraphrase Sir Rupert, we are not debating mindless application of the military in non-combat, civilian operations, but are focused on the UTILITY of such implementation. Incidentally, Sir Rupert’s book will also provide you with an update on your slightly antiquated perception of the chain of command, the role of the commander, and of the principles of modern strategic and operational command executed in practice.

    Smith’s book, together with the previously cited Bradford and Brown, will also tell you that, today, all actions of the military are conducted in the world of a mature and modern democracy, i.e., under control of the civilian authority, and accordingly to the strategic mission requirements defined by that authority. In such world, and this happens to be the world chosen by the US, the military serves as the arm not the brain. However, when the brain falters, the arm withers as well.

    Under all normal and biologically valid circumstances the brain does not fear the arm, but uses it to execute many of the functions required to assure the brain’s survival. You not only fear the arm, but also represent a faltering institutional brain – a most unnatural combination that is not only short-sighted, but also dangerous in the context of the best interests of the organism, i.e., the nation. That such danger is real is seen in many operations directed by civilian agencies which studiously avoided utilizing from the outset the military capabilities readily at their disposal. What ensued in such absence were turf wars, redundancy of effort, lack of C2 (i.e., command and control), unclear functions and overlapping jurisdictions that produced an amazing loss of funds, stagnation of effort, and exposure of victims to easily avoidable privations and suffering. Therefore, if we choose NOT to employ our military whenever such employment is clearly advisable, we better learn from the military how they train their people in the required skills of fast, constructive, and “forward-leaning” thinking. Or, as suggested before, start reading Bradford and Brown with a furious vigor.

  4. Mr. Cumming
    It is becoming most apparent you desire only to play sarcastic word games, not address serious issues. But for the record –

    Unified command in a cross jurisdictional incident certainly requires collaboration and coordination. The action plan is carried out through very specific command control. And chain of command is most obvious should you ever observe incident command in action.

    The reality is, this series of comments spinning from the other site supposedly had to do with the selection of the SECNAV to lead a planning team. You sir, have “used” this to spin your Seven Days in May military conspiracy thinking. Thanks all the same but history doesn’t support.

  5. I am so happy to see these comments. An important dialogue and hopefully analysis of the DOD budget will mandate even more “jointness,” purple suits, and combined operations ONLY.
    Budget analysis would indicate that little real jointness, little really cooperation and collaboration, and oddly little real command and control although the pretension to the above are astounding. But hey it is good to have pride in your service, stick up for your career commitments and hopefully not look forwards to a second career to ease the physical and psychic pains of the first. And truthfully I am so happy that our system produces so many fine soldier, sailors, and air persons. Now to organize that whole effort into a national asset that contributes its weight in its costs. And I never ever overlook the high personal costs of military service. Remember that I served during a time when few woman served, few true volunteers, and many WWII and Korean WAR Vets still around on active service. I am really not sure anyone wins wars given the costs, including civil control of the military, but there are still tigers out there. Let’s see how this plays out. And NIMS to me is not about Command and Control but in fact and deed collaboration and cooperation. Willing to listen to arguments, however. If it was Command and Control would not it identify the Chain of Command? And the authority of the Commander?

  6. Mr. Cumming,
    Churchill was known for finishing debates with a cutting wit – and a point that made all points. Here, we neither have wit nor much logic, but intransigent insistence on a point of view that has more similarity with the religious dogma of the Middle Ages than presentation of legitimate arguments, and where support of the facetious is drawn by quoting Sir Basil completely out of the context of our present exchange. While I am full of appreciation for your knowledge of military classics, and expect quotations of von Clausewitz, Jomini, and even von Moltke, this is really neither the time nor place for impressing each other with mutual erudition.

    The point is simple: we have patently messed up the Gulf operation, because, contrary to what General Honore suggested, we did not conduct our activities there as war, but as a debate of the society of mutual adoration whose members carefully applied staged “press furies”, thunderous arguments, , and a lot of wrathful finger pointing that, in the end, formed a perfect circle. We are now in the game of musical chairs that could have been avoided had somebody, somewhere decided to follow notions presented, among others, by Beakley and myself several years ago, and now resurfacing with renewed vigor (e.g., http://jacksonville.com/business/2010-07-06/story/ju-expert-leadership-skewers-bp-obama-over-gulf-response). Ours are not newfangled concepts, but “evidence-based” notions funded in the events of the past. And, thus, had our authorities acted with sense rather than politics as the guiding light, it is possible that the need for mental services would be minimal, that the life of at least one Gulf captain would be preserved, that the incontestable anguish of many would be substituted by looking forward to possible a better future. Ironically, it is the people of the Gulf who showed more common sense, more aptitude, and more operational flexibility, than the entire official “outfit” involved in counteracting the spill.

    What you offer, Sir, is a cheap and largely unwanted sarcasm that beggars condemnation far more intense than that bestowed upon Mr. Hayward for his at times odd utterances. This, Mr. Cumming, is not the time to debate the role, significance, and intent of HSPD-5, but the time to act decisively, energetically, and with no fear of fully committed action. This is the time to call upon all resources, and this is your duty, Mr. Cumming, like the duty of the rest of us, to make sure that Secretary Mobus executes his task well. His is an ungrateful job, since he has been called to perform it extraordinarily late in this unfortunate game. How successful will he be, how prudently will he employ substantial resources that he commands, how effectively will he work with other Secretaries, time will show. He has little time, but he also has a large force at his disposal of most dedicated men and women for whom the mission, the shared purpose of stopping the ongoing disaster, is far more important than the debate of presently irrelevant nuances of politics, law, and process.

    Once the work is finished, once people return to their normal lives, we may return to the largely academic debate of rules that will in future guide the participation of our military forces in catastrophic events involving our country, and, if so requested by others, their countries as well. At the moment, we all have a job to do, and if you cannot contribute to this task in a manner other than untoward sarcasm and a slightly misplaced wit, desist, Sir, and be quiet.

  7. Cross posted on Homeland Security Watch and the Recover Diva site, Mr. Cumming writes in response to Barham’s original comment on this subject: “Well an interesting comment. The desire for control of chaos is strong in the human psyche. Unfortunately events are often not subject to human command and control. The view that cooperation and collaboration and inputs from multidisciplinary sources might even help those who are military leaders. Mary Parker Follette in the 20?s indicated that the modern business model should not be authoritarian management but rather team building for specific purposes and cooperation and collaboration. Why? The complexity of the modern world.”

    First, full disclosure: I have followed this dialogue over the weekend because of being informed by Barham. My thoughts follow: 1) Mr Cumming replies only “well an interesting comment.” Seriously that’s it? But wait for it -”events not subject to command control” Sir, if you wish to be taken seriously in your concern for militarization of supposedly civilian owned process it would seem important to recognize that “command control” is indeed exercise of power to include application of resources. I believe that’s what incident command and NIMS is all about. Control of chaos may be a high human “desire”???, but most importantly, it is required if communities are to survive on their own terms.

    2) As to complexity requiring collaboration – absolutely! We face in Erwan Lagadec’s terms “unconventional crisis” requiring unconventional leadership. The “team of leaders” construct was developed – believe it or not, Mr. Cumming by two Army Generals and is being implemented in EUCOM across multipleorganizational boundaries.

    3)Your points in this post concerning selection of a serving SECNAV to lead a planning effort and what the legal words imply would draw more serious consideration, if your comments were not so tinged with sarcasm, and contempt for the military and the Navy in particular. To the point you write: “Who in the civil agencies thinks a former STATE governor and current SECNAV knows a thing about large scale domestic civil crisis management and response. Well we are about to find out. Oh that’s right the US NAVY is not yet a nuclear navy and still runs largely on fossil fuels. Good luck RAY!”

    Well sir, who in this COUNTRY thinks the civilian side that you tout so highly for their planning and knowledge believes 70 plus days into Deepwater has even a clue about how to fix things?

    As a Navy guy, any event occurring in open ocean, at depth of 5000ft is on day one, minute one a most severe crisis. The issue required day-one response, not letting BP play out to see how well they did, or even giving decision making about “who pays” a primary consideration. This may not be a battlefield, but lack of thinking of it as one was pure and unnecessary folly. While you worry about Seven Days in May, a whole region is under unrelenting attack with no near term solution at hand.

    Who indeed might think and act appropriately?

  8. Has Mr. Cumming ever heard of the Teams of Leaders (ToL) concept? Barham quoted the book where it is all fully explained.

  9. Reading Bradford and Brown is not just recommended, it is mandatory. See also C. Northcote Parkinson’s “Parkinson’s Law” and John Boyd’s OODA Loop concept.At the end of such study “The view that cooperation and collaboration and inputs from multidisciplinary sources might even help those who are military leaders” might also help Mr. Cumming – a civilian authority of recognized standing – to accept the fact that cooperation and collaboration are, indeed, the only way out of the labyrinth created by those “who never saw.” This, incidentally, is not just my view, but that of many others “skilled in the art” including Ms. Parker Folette. In the end, arguments employed by Mr. Cumming stand as the foundation of the military concept of “jointness.” Q.E.D., should we then say?

  10. Well an interesting comment. The desire for control of chaos is strong in the human psyche. Unfortunately events are often not subject to human command and control. The view that cooperation and collaboration and inputs from multidisciplinary sources might even help those who are military leaders. Mary Parker Follette in the 20’s indicated that the modern business model should not be authoritarian management but rather team building for specific purposes and cooperation and collaboration. Why? The complexity of the modern world.

  11. I fear Mr. Cumming is wrong in his comments on both the US and the Royal Navy. A more contemporary analysis of their past and present functions might serve better than jaundiced, incorrect, and largely superficial assertions. More to the point is the fact that the habitual dislike of the armed forces on which comments of Mr. Cumming and many others in disaster management community appear to be founded will not help in the objective determination of the role military plays in providing assistance whenever crises or catastrophes take place for which there is no prior script, and whose nature or scope substantially exceed what the civilian authorities view as “utterly utter.”

    The essential difference in the civilian versus military approach to major catastrophic events rests not with the issue of the variety and range of specialized equipment available to the military, but the way in which the military trains its personnel and acts as a complex, multi-agency organization. Mr. Cumming fails to make this distinction: while complaining about the materiel richness of the Navy he misses the point of the military continuously training to deal with the unexpected, the life-threatening, and the continuously unpredictable. The military trains to develop both preparedness (i.e. ability to deal with the predictable) as well as readiness (i.e., the ability to deal with the unpredictable, sudden, and inconceivable.) Moreover, the military of today is is also trained to operate jointly and across commands and services, rather than to remain operationally locked within the vertical stovepipes as is the case with civilian agencies.

    Successful combat operations demand joint readiness and flexibility across commands and services. Not so in the civilian world of crises and disasters. Here, the “plan” provides the standard, immutable guiding rule whose breaking is tantamount to treason, while the “agency sphere of responsibility” (i.e., “turf”) is to be defended at any cost, no matter the consequences. As a counterpoint to these attitudes, it worth to recall (and stress) that an internationally recognized Australian disaster management expert called studiously scripted preparation schemes as “fantasy plans,” while a US gentleman, famous for a spectacular response operation conducted under his command on the US soil, stated recently that there is no effective disaster response without several rules being consciously either disregarded or broken. Events constantly prove that both the American and the Australian are correct.
    A hurricane, no matter how devastating, is an entirely predictable event: there is hardly any novelty to its nature, impact, or consequences. The same is true of an earthquake, major flood, or a massive forest fire. Based on prior experience, we know in all these cases what is going to happen, what efficient mitigation measures are required, and how to assure that whenever the disaster happens the response is effective. With such knowledge, it is relatively easy to develop appropriate preparedness, and, when needed, implement the predetermined countermeasures with an exemplary perfection even under the most trying circumstances. Yet, despite predictability and prior experience in handling similar situations, the civilian-directed conduct of operations during a perfectly normal Hurricane Katrina emerged as the classical example of ineptitude and disorganization. What is, however, entirely incomprehensible is the fact that we have learned virtually nothing since 2005, and the management of BP disaster bears striking resemblance to leadership and managerial clumsiness of civilian authorities seen during Katrina. Then, it was Gen. Honore who came at the head of the National Guard column, who saw, conquered, and made sense out of the total chaos created by the civilian authority. Today, for whatever reasons, the “Dude” has been denied authority of the overall command, and put, for whatever reason, on the observer bleacher instead. Today, we also operate under the umbrella of “C Square” – a military concept now increasingly beloved by the disaster management community – but instead of Command and Control, we see increasing Chaos and Contradictions. Thus, at the personal level, we need “The Dude.”
    At the organizational level, there is no military jointness in the Gulf, but plenty of civilian contradictions. It is therefore highly encouraging that somebody, somewhere has finally awaken to the need to utilize all intellectual and material resources efficiently, regardless of their institutional origin and ownership, and to focus their combined power on the all-unifying, rather than institutional purpose. This is precisely what the military calls this “jointness”, and Mr. Cumming, rather than bemoaning “militarization” of disaster management, ought to be delighted for the change in the archaic mentality. We ought to embrace the two concepts that the military applies to many of its ultra-complex operations in which combat in not a necessary part: “Whole of Government” and/or Joint Interagency, International, Multinational” operations. Maybe that will sweeten the bitter pill of seeing a figure clad in military uniform at the disaster management table. If not, then reading Bradford and Brown’s “America’s Army: A Model for Interagency Cooperation” (Praeger, 2008) might help. We really need to move away from the rather desperate insistence on immutable adherence to the tenets of posse comitatus. After all, different times, different problems, and the oil gushing out of the broken pipe at the bottom of Mexican Gulf is the proof of all that.

  12. The continued militarization of civil life in the US continues as DOD starves the civil agencies for resources. Prior to my retirement in FEMA in October 1999 the Navy did occasionly help out in domestic disasters through DOMS {now long abolished) through the Supervisor of Salvage. Will be interesting to watch how the Secretary of the Navy delegates and of course interesting NO role for Assistant Secretary of Homeland Defense or Northcom. Guess the Navy looking for new missions as world wide Naval threats disappear to US control of the seas and Admiral Mahan’s analysis passes the 100 year mark. Figures since the big NAVY was only able to exist by the presence of Big OIL. BP in Persia was all about the British Navy nothing else.

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