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Report | Feb. 5, 2021

Audit of Dual Status Commanders For Use in Defense Support of Civil Authorities Missions In Support of the Coronavirus (DODIG-2021-048)


Publicly Released: February 9, 2021



The objective of this audit was to determine whether DoD Components nominated, certified, and appointed Dual‑Status Commanders (DSC) in accordance with legal authorities and DoD policies for use in Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) missions in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease–2019 (COVID‑19). COVID‑19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. The World Health Organization declared the global COVID‑19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020, and labeled the outbreak as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.



The National Guard provides protection of life and property, and preserves peace, order, and public safety. These missions are accomplished through emergency relief support during natural disasters, support to civil authorities, and more. Members of the National Guard can operate under the direction of the state governor (state active duty or Title 32) or the Government (Title 10). The National Guard is the first line of military response to most incidents and an effective means of providing help and assistance to local authorities. Governors have the authority to deploy and employ National Guard forces under their control in response to domestic incidents, such as health emergencies like COVID‑19.

A DSC is a commissioned officer of the active Army or Air Force or a federally recognized Army National Guard (ARNG) or Air National Guard (ANG) officer authorized to exercise command on behalf of, and receive separate orders from, a Federal chain of command and pursuant to Title 32 U.S.C., by the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), with the consent of the applicable governor of a state or territory. Section 317, title 32, United States Code (32 U.S.C. § 317 [2012]), states that DSC-led joint task forces should be the usual and customary command and control arrangement established in response to an emergency or major disaster when both Federal military forces and the National Guard are employed simultaneously in support of civil authorities in the U.S.

 According to Joint Publication (JP) 3-28, the appointment and employment of a DSC should improve unity of effort and ensure rapid response to save lives, prevent human suffering, and mitigate property damage for designated planned events, or in response to an emergency or major disaster within the U.S.