Category Archives: The Homeland

NORTHCOM Domestic Contingency Plans

(I’ve been writing about NORTHCOM and the various contingency plans relating to Coronavirus in Newsweek and have tried to make sense of the different plans, in nitty-gritty, beyond articles. Here are my notes.)


U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) Operations Plans

William M. Arkin, 22 April 2020.

In the wake of 9/11, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) was established on October 1, 2002 “to provide command and control of Department of Defense (DOD) homeland defense efforts and to coordinate defense support of civil authorities.” As such, NORTHCOM is the lead domestic combatant command for coronavirus, carrying out its normal and enhanced homeland defense missions and responding to “requests for assistance” from FEMA to provide civil support.

A combatant command for America, a single chain of command, one entity. NORTHCOM has settled in to a certain routine over two decades, starting with defending America’s skies and the National Capital Region, then in building up an expansive weapons of mass destruction response and “consequence management” apparatus, and then, after Katrina, an all-hazards and national response framework military counterpart to the non-military world, no hurricane, earthquake, wildfire or pandemic outside of its mission set.

If there’s any entity that should have been ready for coronavirus, its NORTHCOM. That proposition will undoubtedly be closely examined as commissions and blue ribbon panels go to work when it’s all over. Who said what to whom when will no doubt be exhaustively examined. It’s obviously way too early to say much, but one thing can be said with assurance: after Donald Trump is long gone, NORTHCOM will still be there.

That’s when all of the exceptions will be uncovered, that NORTHCOM is the singular command except. Except for Hawaii and the Pacific Islands territories, where U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) has identical homeland defense responsibilities. Except for counter-terrorism, where U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is the lead. Except for nuclear deterrence, obviously under STRATCOM. Except for the counter-everything missions under U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). Except for those responsibilities that the State hold to themselves. Except for those operations that the Navy and the other services have doggedly retained. And except for all that is not under the military’s direct control – continuity of government, WMD domestic response, and even national mobilization – where other organizations such as the FBI and the White House Military Office have both public and non-public responsibilities. And then there’s the defense of virtual and exo-atmospheric space, now under U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) and the new U.S. Space Force.

There are so many exceptions and it is such a patchwork not only because bureaucracies furiously guard their turf but also because it’s the United States, where what is federal and what is state continues to be hotly contested, as well as what is military and what is civilian. Then comes the question as to whether an organization with so many different missions – from air defense to dealing with a pandemic – can adequately prepare for any of them. This will undoubtedly raise the issue of national security versus public health, about 9/11 versus coronavirus, about domestic need versus the wages of perpetual war.

I’ve been endeavoring to keep an eye on all of this for two decades, not only because of a Reagen-era fascination with continuity but also because the many exceptions rub up against the Constitution and the laws of our land. It’s not just that matters of emergency and extraordinary powers are sexy to study and write about, it is also that the secrecy surrounding so many of these missions – and the exceptions – confuses those outside the system, stymies good government, and undermines public confidence.

With coronavirus, NORTHCOM is out there working furiously to carry out its many missions, implementing at least five different operations plans simultaneously. Implementing might be too strong of a word, because even though these plans run in the hundreds of pages, most are thrown out the window almost as soon as they are taken off the shelf, useful in laying out how things should be organized but otherwise too rigid – or fanciful – to apply to the real world. Or so I say.

That why laying out what those operations plans are is so important, so that we can study them closer, to understand planning, forecasting, organization, mission and implementation. My assertion is that surely we can do better. And in the case of domestic operations plans, surely we can be more transparent as well. Is there any reason you can imagine that the pandemic response plan shouldn’t be public? Or the plan for Defense Support of Civil Authorities? And though we justify those plans, even some recounted below that are highly classified and even compartmented because they deal with special operations forces or weapons of mass destruction, even there I would argue that there needs to be greater transparency, that in order for NORTHCOM and the military overall to do its job in the United States, the Congress and Judiciary, the States, the local community and the public needs to have as much confidence as we can provide them that the military is operating lawfully, and that it knows what it’s doing.

The 19 plans described below are what I can piece together as the current and active operations plans of NORTHCOM. I say operations plans broadly, for all of them are actually CONPLANs, which is not an abbreviation for contingency plan but officially an “operation plans in concept format”.  Because of the exceptions I described above, INDOPACOM has parallel plans that deal with Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, not under the authority of NORTHCOM. And the first two plans listed, in the Joint Chief of Staff “Zero-series” are thought to be NORTHCOM plans but probably still reside within the purview of the JCS. The rest of the plans are all in the 3000-series, allocated to NORTHCOM.

CONPLAN 0300, Counter-Terrorism Special Operations Support to Civil Agencies in the event of a domestic incident (entire title classified) (Power Geyser)

  • Federal response to a terrorist event.
  • Implements the JCS charter for the counterterrorism (CT) joint task force, known as the National Mission Force.
  • Includes Joint Service EOD “Special Mission” support and specific weapons of mass destruction render safe support capabilities within the NCR.
  • Department of Defense provides military assistance to the lead federal agency and/or Federal Response Plan Emergency Support Function primary agencies during all aspects of a terrorist incident upon approval by the Secretary of Defense.
  • Often referred to as CJCS CONPLAN 0300; it unclear if it is solely a NORTHCOM plan or if NORTHCOM has a supporting CONPLAN 0300 to implement a JCS plan in the Continental United States and Alaska only.
  • Operating under the provisions of Presidential Decision Directive (PDD)-39, US Government Policy on Counterterrorism, 21 June 1995.
  • Compartmented plan classified Secret/Alternative Compensatory Control Measures (with the compartment Focal Point, referring to sensitive special operations).


  • CJCS CONPLAN 0300-14, 2014.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0300-04/NORTHCOM Draft CONPLAN 0300-04.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0300-00, 1 December 2000.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0300-97, 14 January 1997.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0300-96, 1996.

CONPLAN 0400, Counterproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (Granite Shadow)

  • Special operations countering weapons of mass destruction “national plan”; formerly called the “counter proliferation” plan.
  • As dictated by PDD-39, a robust DOD plan, outlining the process by which agencies submit requests for DOD support in domestic terrorism related events, and the command and control structure that would be applied in domestic military employment in order to rapidly remove and destroy WMD in the hands of terrorists, when ordered to do so. Builds on the guidance contained in the PDD-39 Domestic Guidelines concerning DOD support to DOJ/FBI – the lead federal agency – during a WMD terrorist incident.
  • Domestic DOD assistance includes threat assessment, Domestic Emergency Support Team deployment, technical advice, operational support, tactical operations, support for civil disturbances, and custody, transportation and disposal of a WMD device.
  • Requires geographic combatant commands to create a Joint Task Force Command and Control Organization for consequence management within their areas of responsibility. The five-theater CINC CONPLANs were initially approved in August 1999.
  • Often referred to as CJCS CONPLAN 0400; it unclear if it is solely a NORTHCOM plan or if NORTHCOM has a supporting CONPLAN 0400 to implement a JCS plan in the Continental United States and Alaska only.
  • Operating under the provisions of Presidential Decision Directive (PDD)-39, US Government Policy on Counterterrorism, 21 June 1995 and the FBI WMD Incident Contingency Plan.
  • Compartmented plan classified Secret/Alternative Compensatory Control Measures (with the compartment Focal Point, referring to sensitive special operations). Previously Top Secret.


  • CJCS Instruction 3125.01B, Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) for Domestic Consequence Management (CM) Operations in response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, or High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Incident, 19 August 2009 cancelled Annex T, Appendix 2, Military Assistance to Foreign Consequence Management Operations, upon reversion of regional combatant command responsibilities for CONPLAN 0400 duties in their areas of responsibility.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0400, Counterproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, September 2003.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0400-00, Draft, 2002.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0400-00, Countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, September 2001.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0400-97, 3 January 1997.
  • CJCS CONPLAN 0400-96, Counterproliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, 31 May 1996.

CONPLAN 3310, NORTHCOM/NORAD, Aerospace Warning, Aerospace Control and Maritime Warning for North America

  • Bi-National U.S.-Canada Plan. According to the Government of Canada: “Respond in times of crisis or to unauthorized airborne activities. The NORAD Contingency Plan (CONPLAN) is a binational plan that outlines flexible warning response options to deter, detect and, if necessary, defeat threats to North America, for both Canadian and American assets. … Processes and procedures in response to unauthorized civilian aircraft activity, in and within the approaches to North America are explicitly articulated in NORAD CONPLAN 3310 and are executed under Operation NOBLE EAGLE.”
  • Definitions
    • Aerospace Warning: Detect, validate, characterize, assess and warn of attacks against North America, whether by aircraft, missiles or space vehicles.
    • Aerospace Control: Detect and respond to unauthorized and unwanted air activity approaching or operating within North American airspace.
    • Maritime Warning: Process, assess and disseminate intelligence/information to warn of maritime threats or attacks against North America.
  • The Guidance for Employment of the Force (GEF) and Joint Strategic Campaign Plan (JSCP) provides limited guidance for NORAD CONPLAN 3310. It is the product of U.S. and Canadian negotiations and agreement.
  • See Terms of Reference, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), 21 February 2007 and Canada–United States Basic Defense Document (BDD), 8 July 2006.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) Campaign Plan 2525-02, Operation Noble Eagle (Campaign Plan for Homeland Security), 1 October 2002.
  • Replaced CDRUSELEMNORAD CONPLAN 3349-02, 15 January 1998, a U.S. only plan.


  • Plan undergoing substantial revision in FY 2019-2020.
  • CONPLAN 3310-17, 18 January 2017.
  • CONPLAN 3310-12, 2012.
  • CONPLAN 3310-07, Aerospace Defense & Maritime Warning, 5 March 2007.
  • CONPLAN 3310-07, 23 January 2007.
  • CONPLAN 3310-02, Combined US-Canada Aerospace Sovereignty and Aerospace Defense, 21 April 2004.
  • CINCNORAD CONPLAN 3310-96 (Change 2), Air Sovereignty and Aerospace Defense of North America, 1 January 2000.
  • CINCNORAD CONPLAN 3310-96 (as amended), 24 September 1999.

CONPLAN 3400, Homeland Defense

  • The Secretary of Defense approved Guidance for Employment of the Force (GEF) establishes “Homeland Defense” as NORTHCOM’s top priority.
  • Includes support for national Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government, and protection of Defense Critical Infrastructure Program (DCIP).
  • Generates the Granite Shadow OPLAN within the United States (CONPLAN 0400 or the specific Granite Shadow plan).
  • Replaced CONPLAN 2002-05, Homeland Defense, last revision 29 July 2005. This was a legacy NORTHCOM (and early JFCOM) plan.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3900, December 2002.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM/EUCOM (and earlier JFCOM) CONPLAN 2222-98, Protection of the Area of Responsibility (AOR) Air-Sea Lines of Communication (ASLOC), 1 March 2001.
  • Replaced JFCOM Draft Campaign Plan 2525-01 (Draft), Operations to Support Civil Authorities in Securing the Homeland, 22 October 2001.


  • Plan undergoing substantial revision in FY 2019-2020.
  • CONPLAN 3400-15, 8 January 2015.
  • CONPLAN 3400-12, 2012.
  • CONPLAN 3400-08 Revision 1, 2010; contained a more detailed concept of operations for the maritime homeland defense mission.
  • CONPLAN 3400-08, 2 December 2008.
  • CONPLAN 3400-05, November 2005.

CONPLAN 3405, Department of Defense Nuclear Weapon Incident Response

  • Includes NORTHCOM’s theater geographic responsibilities for nuclear weapon recovery operations, the status of this CONPLAN is unclear, nor what it’s distinction with from COPLANs is.


  • CONPLAN 3405-12.

CONPLAN 3407, Defense Support to Prevent a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or High-Yield Explosives (CBRNE) Attack in the Homeland

  • AKA CBRN “Prevent Plan”.
  • Supports USG law enforcement agencies in preventing WMD (to include biologicals) entry into the US and search for WMD when cued by intelligence.


  • CONPLAN 3407-12, Defense Support to Prevent a CBRNE Attack in the Homeland (“CBRNE Prevent”), 29 March 2012.
  • CONPLAN 3407-11.

CONPLAN 3475, Regional Campaign for the War on Terrorism (WOT)

  • Sub-plan of SOCOM’s CONPLAN 7500, the Global Campaign Plan for the War on Terrorism, now officially called the Global Campaign Plan for Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs).
  • Includes counter-narcoterrorism and counter-drug (CN/CD) operations to address the threat of illicit trafficking to North America.
  • Replaced JFCOM FUNCPLAN 2707-00, Military Activities in Support of Counterdrug Operations.


  • CONPLAN 3476-08.

CONPLAN 3500, Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Explosives (CBRNE) Consequence Management (CM) Operations

  • The first key assumption is, “There will be little or no warning before a CBRN incident.”
  • Includes Very Important Persons Protection Support Activity (VIPPSA), EOD support provided in coordination with the U.S. Secret Service. VIPPSA support can be provided for the President of the United States, the Vice President, cabinet members, foreign dignitaries, and others as directed by the Department of State.
  • Incorporated and replaced JCS (and later NORTHCOM) CONPLAN 0500-03, Military Assistance to Domestic Consequence Management Operations in Response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, or High-Yield Explosive Situation or Event, 11 February 2002.


  • Plan undergoing substantial revision in FY 2019-2020.
  • CONPLAN 3500-14, Civil Support, 30 September 2014.
  • CONPLAN 3500-14, Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) Response, 17 July 2014.
  • CONPLAN 3500-11, CBRN Response, 17 August 2011. As a result of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Secretary of Defense directed DOD to restructure the original CCMRF to increase its ability to respond more rapidly to an incident in the homeland with more robust critical lifesaving capability to assist the Federal response in reducing the impact of a CBRN incident.
  • CONPLAN 3500-08, Military Assistance to Domestic Consequence Management Operations in Response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, or High-Yield Explosive Situation (U), 29 December 2008.
  • CONPLAN 3500-08, CBRNE Consequence Management Operations, 22 October 2008
  • CONPLAN 3500-08, CBRNE Consequence Management Operations, Draft, February 2008.
  • CONPLAN 3500-07, 2007. JTF-CS anticipates, plans and integrates NORTHCOM Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosive (CBRNE) Consequence Management operations and when directed, establishes command and control of DOD forces for a CBRNE incident to assist local authorities in saving lives, preventing injury, and providing temporary critical life support.
  • CONPLAN 0500 for CBRNE-CM, 1 February 2007. When directed by the Secretary of Defense, Commander NORTHCOM conducts consequence management (CM) in the 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, to support Civil Authorities in response to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) situations.
  • CONPLAN 3500-06, Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosives Consequence Management Operations, 10 October 2006.

CONPLAN 3501, Defense Support of Civil Authorities

  • Develops an overarching complex catastrophe branch plan concept of operations that identifies initial actions to be taken by NORTHCOM and subordinate elements. This concept of operations is supported by a series of what NORTHCOM calls “playbooks” that identify the key elements of the federal military response to various types of complex catastrophes. These playbooks include a southern California earthquake, the Cascadia subduction zone earthquake, an Alaska earthquake, an East Coast/Gulf Coast major hurricane, and a major emergency in the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • Compatible with the National Response Framework (NRF) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
  • Describes DOD support to civil authorities during natural disasters and civil emergencies other than armed attack on the nation.
  • Contains a six-phase plan for DSCA operations: Phase 0, Shape; Phase 1, Anticipate; Phase 2, Respond; Phase 3, Operate; Phase 4, Stabilize; Phase 5, Transition.
  • Outlines NORTHCOM’s responsibilities and intentions for Phases 0-5, in order to “save lives, reduce human suffering, and mitigate great property damage;” directs service components to develop supporting plans.
  • Appendix 20 to Annex C, NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3501, Wildland Firefighting Operations, 24 April 2008.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) CONPLAN 2501, Defense Support of Civil Authorities.
  • Replaced JFCOM Draft Campaign Plan 2525-01 (Draft), Operations to Support Civil Authorities in Securing the Homeland, 22 October 2001.
  • Replaced JFCOM (and earlier REDCOM) FUNCPLAN 2501-97, Military Support to Civil Authorities (MSCA) in Responding to Natural or Man-made Disasters, 2 February 1998
  • Replaced SOUTHCOM FUNCPLAN 6175-98, Domestic Support Operations, 1 July 1998.


  • Plan undergoing substantial revision in FY 2020-2021, including a new prioritized list for developing approximately 30 additional playbooks and regional support plans.
  • CONPLAN 3501-09 approved by JFLCC (ARNORTH) CDR 4 May 2009.
  • CONPLAN 3501-08, 16 December 2008 (1st 9-month review, approved by SECDEF. Includes 6 Phases and new NORTHCOM structure.
  • CONPLAN 3501-08, Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), 16 May 2008.
  • Secretary of Defense Memorandum, NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3501, Defense Support of Civil Authorities, April 2007.
  • NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3501-05, Defense Support of Civil Authorities, 11 April 2006.
  • NORTHCOM CONPLAN 3501-05, Defense Support of Civil Authorities, Draft, 22 March 2006.
  • CDRUSNORTHCOM, Civil Support Concept of Employment (CONEMP), 20 August 2004.

CONPLAN 3502, Civil Disturbance Operations

  • The JSCP directs CDRUSNORTHCOM to conduct necessary planning and coordination to prepare DOD forces to assist civil authorities in response to civil disturbances, when directed by the President and Secretary of Defense. US domestic civil disturbances include riots, acts of violence, insurrections, unlawful obstructions or assemblages, group acts of violence, and disorders prejudicial to public law and order. Initial responsibility for the civil disturbance response rests with state and local authorities. This plan is implemented when the President determines that a civil disturbance situation exceeds either the capabilities or willingness of the state and local authorities to restore law and order
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) FUNCPLAN 2502, Civil Disturbance Plan (Garden Plot), 25 June 2001.
  • FUNCPLAN 2502 (in 2001) replaced the earlier “Garden Plot” CONPLAN, U.S. Department of Defense Civil Disturbance Plan, 15 February 1991.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM FUNCPLAN 2707, Support to Law Enforcement for Transnational Threats


  • CONPLAN 3502, Civil Disturbance Operations, 31 July 2009.
  • CONPLAN 3502, Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Civil Disturbance Operations (CDO), 23 January 2007.

CONPLAN 3505, Nuclear Weapons Accident Response Plan (NARP)

  • NORTHCOM CONPLAN for response to an accident involving U.S. nuclear weapons in Department of Defense (DOD) custody in the USNORTHCOM-designated Operational Area, in accordance with guidance, policy and direction of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and the Secretary of Defense.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) FUNCPLAN 2505, Nuclear Weapon Accident Response Plan.
  • Supplements Air Force and Navy nuclear weapons accident/indent plans (these are the only military services that possess nuclear warheads)
    • AFSPC Plan 10- 1, ICBM Radiological Accident/Incident Response and Recovery Plan, 15 October 2004.
    • ACC Plan 32- 1, CONUS Radiological Accident/Incident Response and Recovery Plan, 11 September 2002.
    • Commander, Navy Region Southeast Instruction 3440.15, Regional Nuclear Weapon Accident Response Plan, 13 April 2005.
    • Commander, Navy Region Northwest Instruction 3440.1D, Nuclear Weapon Accident/Incident Response Plan, 31 January 2001.


  • CONPLAN 3505-08, USNORTHCOM Nuclear Weapons Accident Response Plan (NC-NARP), 4 April 2008.

CONPLAN 3551, Concept Plan to Synchronize DOD Pandemic Influenza Planning

  • DOD Global Response to Pandemic Influenza; CONPLAN 3351 directs “planning and synchronization of DOD’s global response to a potential pandemic.”
  • “The potential impact of pandemic influenza (Pl) on military operations is significant. Throughout a pandemic, United States (US) military forces must remain dominant across the full spectrum of military operations, preserving combat capabilities in order to protect US interests at home and abroad. The Department of Defense {DOD) Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza (DIP) directs DOD to prepare for, detect, respond to and contain the effect of a pandemic on military forces, DOD civilians, DOD contractors, dependents and beneficiaries.”
  • Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan Fiscal Year 2006, 1 September 2006 directed CDRUSNORTHCOM to prepare a concept plan (CONPLAN) to synchronize worldwide planning to mitigate and contain the effects of an influenza pandemic.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM CONPLAN 2591, Pandemic Influenza (FOUO with two Secret Annexes).


  • CONPLAN 3560, Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease Response, NORTHCOM Branch Plan 3560, Draft, 6 January 2017. This new plan seemingly never went beyond the draft stage.
  • DOD GCP PI&ID 3551-13, Department of Defense Global Campaign Plan for Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease, 14 March 2014.
  • NORTHCOM/DOD GCP-PI&ID-3551-13, 15 October 2013.
  • CONPLAN 3551-09, Concept Plan to Synchronize DOD Pandemic Influenza Planning, 13 August 2009.
  • CONPLAN 3551-07, DOD Global Pandemic Influenza Concept Plan, 1 October 2007.
  • CONPLAN 3551-07, Concept Plan to Synchronize DOD Pandemic Influenza Planning, 26 September 2007.
  • DOD Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza, August 2006.
  • DOD Influenza Pandemic Preparation and Response Health Policy Guidance, 25 January 2006.
  • DOD Guidance for Preparation and Response to an Influenza Pandemic caused by the Bird Flu (Avian Influenza), 21 September 2004.

CONPLAN 3591, Theater Response Plan for Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Diseases

  • USNORTHCOM Response to Pandemic Influenza; a supporting plan to CONPLAN 3351, focuses on support to the “national effort in response to a potential pandemic resulting from human-to-human transmission of an influenza virus.”
  • The plan addresses Force Health Protection (FHP) and civil support operations in the USNORTHCOM AO, as well as support to foreign humanitarian assistance (FHA) operations in the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility (AOR).


  • CONPLAN 3591-09, USNORTHCOM Response to Pandemic Influenza, 13 August 2009.
  • CONPLAN 3591, NORTHCOM Response to Pandemic Influenza, 17 December 2007.
  • CONPLAN 3591-07, Pandemic Influenza. 25 July 2007.
  • CJCS PLANORD 141224Z NOV 05 (14 November 2005) directs NORTHCOM to conduct execution-level planning for response to PI.

CONPLAN 3600, Emergency Preparedness in the National Capital Region (NCR)

  • All hazard NCR emergency preparedness, readiness for mass casualty incidents in the National Capital Region (NCR) by air or ground; support for National Security Special Events (NSSE) and high risks events.
  • Provide a mechanism to coordinate delivery of assistance, develop pre-scripted RFAs to ensure that JFHQ-NCR serves as the single point of entry to get USNORTHCOM support to the Pentagon in crisis management situations; sets the conditions under which JFHQ-NCR transitions to JTF-NCR and has OPCON of forces serving in the NCR.
  • Supporting plan JFHQ-NCR OPLAN 3600, Emergency Preparedness in the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • Replaced NORTHCOM CONPLAN 2400, the legacy NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) NCR CONPLAN.


  • CONPLAN 3600-08, Emergency Preparedness in the National Capital Region, 7 November 2008.
  • CONPLAN 2400, Emergency Preparedness in the NCR, January 2007. Post 9/11 revisions that integrate operations in the NCR under a single combatant commander; synchronizes DOD activities and existing federal, state, tribal and local emergency preparedness efforts.

CONPLAN 3601, Continuity of Operations

  • Status unknown; believed to be the Headquarters U.S. Northern Command and NORAD continuity of operations plan, not a national plan, applicable only internally to NORTHCOM and NORAD.

CONPLAN 3729, International Disaster Response

  • AKA International Disaster Relief
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) CONPLAN 2707, Caribbean Mass Migration.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM FUNCPLAN 2500-93, Military Support to the Department of State and Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations, 15 June 2001.
  • Replaced NORTHCOM (and earlier JFCOM) 2503, Military Support to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) during a Mass Immigration into the United States (“Legacy Freedom”), 30 November 1997.


  • CONPLAN 3729-12, 2012.

CONPLAN 3768, Repatriation Operations

  • AKA Non-combatant Evacuation Operation/Repatriation (NEO/REPAT)
  • Replaced JFCOM CONPLAN 2100-98, Non-combatant Evacuation Operations, 1 February 2002.

CONPLAN 3800, Mobile Consolidated Command Center Operations

  • Status unknown.
  • Replaced USSPACECOM CONPLAN 3800-00, 12 April 2000.
  • Replaced (or supplemented) CJCS OPORD 2-98, Survivable Mobile Command Center Operations (SMCC Operations), J-3A 02592-97, 1 March 1998.

CAMPLAN 3900, Strategic Communication

  •  Campaign plan, status unknown.


  • CONPLAN 3900-02, December 2002.

Phase Zero: Last Week in Review 4.27.15

The following posts appeared on Phase Zero last week:

Will The Death of Two Hostages Finally Force Us to Face Drone Killing?

U.S. Inadvertently Kills Adam Gadahn, Saves $1,000,000

An Intelligence Vet Explains ISIS, Yemen, and “the Dick Cheney of Iraq” : An Interview with Malcolm Nance

The Blackwater Murders Aren’t Blackwater’s Fault. They’re Ours.

Is Germany Really The Heart Of America’s Drone War?

April 19 Has Become Everyone-Is-a-Threat Day


Threats to SuperBowl 48, from Gov. Christie’s CIA


Missing the point about F-35s

Rutland Herald, Sunday, November 17, 2013

The good people of Burlington – the Stop the F-35 Coalition – declared war this week, decrying what they call a “corrupt basing selection process” to put the new fighter jet at Burlington International Airport, and making all sorts of claims as to the dire circumstances that will befall the community if the Air Force carries out its plan.

This is not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) at its finest, and I applaud the citizens for being motivated at all to involve themselves in the touchy world of national security.

But I can’t support them.  I can’t support them because the arguments they use are faulty and intentionally manipulative, and in that, they merely mirror the Pentagon’s own ritualistic nonsense, a campaign thus destined for failure, a learning opportunity lost, and change thwarted.

The F-35A will go to Burlington to replace the F-16s that are already there, and by all accounts, Vermont’s elected officials all support and have lobbied for this no-brainer modernization.

No brainer because no one is willing to question whether we really need to protect the skies, whether we need a new plane for this task at all, whether any airplane should be based at a civil airport, even an ostensibly National Guard airplane, whether lobbying should be the basis for our national security, whether overall continued down the same-old, same-old path of homeland security after 9/11 makes the slightest sense.

The Stop the F-35 Coalition doesn’t really address any of these gigantic questions, instead saying that the Environment Impact Statement prepared for basing lacks crucial health-related information, claiming as well that the jets in Burlington will devalue property, disproportionally impact minorities and low-income people, impact cardiovascular health of those nearby, and impair the learning ability of children in nearby schools.

After a few more back-and-forth, even in court, the government is sure to prevail, maybe even addressing some of the Coalition’s concerns – want more health-related information?, the government might say.  Ok, we’ll spend even more of your tax dollars to produce whatever you want.  But absent the support of the Governor or our Congressional representatives, the Coalition doesn’t really have a prayer.

Meanwhile, what’s destroying our nation, what’s robbing from civil society, what’s short-changing health care and even directly messing up the heads of our young people, is the constant state of war we endure, the overblown threat of terrorism, our crazy worship at the national and homeland security alter.

NIMBY is fine, but in this new world of interconnectedness and social media, Not-in-my-Country is the more appropriate campaign.   The roar of F-16s or F-35s might rupture the peaceful image of Vermonters, nice people who think that they can create some sanctuary and drop out of the national tragedy.  They should spend their energy instead going to war against a national security system that can no longer police itself, and one that no one in Washington has any intent of changing.

William M. Arkin, who lives in South Pomfret, is author of “American Coup: How a Terrified Government is Destroying the Constitution” and co-author of the national bestseller “Top Secret America.”

State of Emergency OpED

State of Emergency

Rutland Herald, Sunday, September 22, 2013

In case you missed it, it’s National Preparedness Month, one of those earnest government PR campaigns that is half propaganda and half patronage.

For the Department of Homeland Security, which also is celebrating its 10th anniversary, it’s a bittersweet month. The post- 9/11 department, which has established a permanent foothold in Washington, comes in for constant criticism and has little actual authority.

But it has also sold the idea of the need for a whole-of-nation, whole-of-community approach to domestic security, and that idea successfully enlists more and more normal Americans into vastly expanded ranks of national first-responders.

The impact at the state and local level has been profound. From California to Maine, and here in Vermont, terrorism task forces, homeland security departments, and intelligence fusion centers mimic Big Brother.

Even the state National Guard, venerable offspring of citizen militias that predate the United States, is not just a local response force or called out for federal service overseas. The Guard is also increasingly reoriented as a regional and national homeland response force, less and less the governor’s reserve or connected to the local community, more and more an undifferentiated federal government adjunct.

The specter of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction hangs over all of this — it was after all, why the Department of Homeland Security was created in the first place. Yet the real need at the local level remains an Irene and not an Iraq.

That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in all of the swag emanating from the feds promoting National Preparedness Month, there isn’t a word about terrorism. “We as individuals and communities must do our part to become safer by following some commonsense advice,” FEMA’s Ready Campaign urges.

In other words, it doesn’t matter what the threat is. It just matters that the American public feels threatened enough to either join in the ranks or stay obediently out of the way.

If it were only preparation for hurricanes we were talking about, none of this hyper-preparedness would threaten any of our liberties or challenge our system of federalism. That system, under the Constitution, places police powers in the hands of the local community and gives states the authority to ask for federal assistance rather than have it imposed. Yet for the sake of national security and its baby brother, homeland security, both principles have been subtly reversed in the past decade.

Syria may seem so distant to Vermonters, and a concern only played out in Washington. But since Washington unquestioningly asserts that terrorism and weapons of mass destruction trump every other concern, that’s where the resources go — even almost a decade after the abysmal response to Hurricane Katrina showed the dangers of neglecting day-to-day needs.

In Vermont, with a northern border and a significant federal presence given how small the state is, all of the “security” and response levers of the state are increasingly pushed to be militarized and hierarchical under national security command.

It’s not just federal dollars and the names of organizations. It’s a way of thinking and organizing ourselves that shortchanges civilian society and shifts the emphasis from building a more resilient country to preparing for its inevitable collapse.

If you missed National Preparedness Month, perhaps it is because you are not part of the 60 million Americans, about one-third of the adult population ages 20-64, whom the Department of Homeland Security counts as part of the regimented conglomeration of troops, government workers, first-responders, private-sector enlistees and civilian volunteers — a gigantic all-hazards reserve trained in everything from storm spotting and first aid to animal rescue and crowd control.

Precisely because preparedness for Washington’s priority concerns and fears is more important than the need (or the focus) of the actual readiness for real threats, intelligence collectors (and increasingly state and local police as new spies) need to feed a constant search for signs of disturbance.

Of course, there are real terrorists and criminals already on the radar screen of the authorities, but in this world, everyone who isn’t friendly is a potential enemy, that is, in a post-enemy kind of way.

As these ginormous databases of potential threats become available to state authorities, and as collection devices such as license plate readers and drones begin the proliferate to feed the insatiable appetite for intelligence information, Vermonters should ask if this emergency apparatus, set up with such panic after 9/11, still serves our interests, or even the national interest, any longer.

William M. Arkin, who lives in South Pomfret, is author of “American Coup: How a Terrified Government is Destroying the Constitution” and co-author of the national bestseller “Top Secret America.”

Homeland Security Fear Factors

EmergencyPrep10thAnv_Infographic11.inddHere’s how I read this new poster from  Fifty percent increase in disasters in the past 10 years?  Government incentives to have a disaster declared and more, in everyone’s interest.  But the number of people who actually participate in this idiotic and no doubt expensive government pep-rally is tiny.  The only real statistic here is the claim that more than half of Americans have prepared emergency kits.  I don’t know whether that’s true but it is an indicator of a lack of public confidence in government’s ability to deal with disaster.  So as a self-help program, I guess the government telling everyone that they are on their own is working.

Want to understand the manufacture of fear and obedience in America?  Read my new book, American Coup: How A Terrified Government is Destroying the Constitution.

Government Conferences: The GSA Merely Got Caught in Las Vegas

No one in their right mind would want to stand up and defend the GSA’s $823,000 conference meeting in Las Vegas, which has become the latest paradigm of government waste.  Las Vegas in particular provokes images of ID card lanyards swinging around poles as the DC-revelers crowded the strip clubs on Industrial Road.

Now, as Fierce Government reports, the White House is imposing cut backs on conferences and travel expenses, directing agencies in a May 11 memo reduce expenses by at least 30 percent in fiscal 2013.  Deputy Secretaries will have to review any conference where the agency spending could exceed $100,000 and no agency can spend over $500,000 on a conference – well, that is, without a waiver.

I can’t imagine that anyone thinks this will change a thing, except make every Las Vegas planned event “sensitive.”  And of course it is just spitting in the wind when it comes to the industry and association sponsored conferences, the modern-day back rooms where deals are made and future careers for military officers are lined up.  These military – and increasingly homeland security – conferences are going on almost daily.

From the GovEvents website, I picked up 91 such events scheduled for the next six months.  At the bigger events, a dozen or more government and military officials can make presentations (at what cost to the taxpayer?) and loads of military personnel and government employees attend.  Looking at some of the more specialized IT symposiums, it can cost up to $500 each for each participant.  So if only 20 government participants attend these, not including travel and lost time, the cost is already $1 million. See how ridiculous efforts to save government – taxpayer — money are?

The Conferences and Expos:

Soft Power Becomes a Military-Dominated Counter-Everything…

Soft power, all the rage in the ivory tower, but ever so slowly being eclipsed in the Defense Department as mission excitement builds for China and that old foe Iran, is here to stay in that way that the Pentagon knows how to overdo everything: write the regulations and doctrine, open specialty institutions, build an internal constituency.  And of course, spend money, which in the military budget is a pittance but in comparison to other departments and agencies is a King’s ransom, which is why soft becomes hard, and everything that the U.S. government attempts to turn into non-military becomes military by default.

As Secretary Robert Gates nudged the rest of the government to do more so that the military didn’t have to do everything, and the commentators of everything-is-pathetic-except-for-the-military love to point out that the State Department can’t even find enough volunteers to man its hazardous posts in the perpetual warzone.  Come to think of it, I wonder if DOD could if their assignments were equally voluntary.

But I digress.  Institutionalized soft power a la Pentagon practice does take resources, and bodies, and pretty soon, hard power is compromised.  So there’s a double loss for America: Military priorities get distorted, and the distinction between what is military and what is civilian fades.

This week, European Command (EUCOM) announced the opening of a new Joint Interagency Counter Trafficking Center in Stuttgart, Germany; a kind of unremarkable and typical blah, blah, blah, even for the once important European Command constantly looking for mission and relevance.  The new center focuses on trafficking in drugs, weapons, humans and other illicit commodities.  Army Brig. Gen. Mark Scraba, the center’s director, told American Forces Press Service that criminal networks were increasingly able to operate across national borders and build alliances.  Among the greatest concerns, he said, is the convergence of drug and terror networks.  The fusion center, the director says, has fewer than 40 staff members, and includes representatives of the FBI, DIA and other U.S. government agencies.

Fewer than 40 staff members indeed, but you gotta ask: Why is this paid for out of the defense budget?  Why does the military have to take the lead for the interagency to work?  How many additional contractors and supporters are really expended?  How does this subtly impact and undermine core military missions?  How does it slowly turn the military into a global law enforcement entity?

When the U.S. government started trumpeting the term narco-terrorism after 9/11, I took it to be a cynical effort to rename the war on drugs and the activities of the left-out combatant commands like Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in the new mono-focus of terrorism.  The term in fact had been coined by President Fernando Belaúnde Terry of Peru in 1983, according to Wikipedia.  The adoption by DOD was in fact cynical, but soon enough they discovered that the most pressing narco problem was in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a mission that initially they relegated to the Brits and the NATO partners, but have been slowly taking over.  EUCOM’s center is really a product of endless fighting in Afghanistan.

EUCOM’s center joins the counter-narcotics and counter-narcoterrorism effort at Central Command (CENTCOM), which takes place in the Afghanistan and Pakistan Center (APC).   SOUTHCOM has their new Countering Transnational Organized Crime (CTOC) division.   Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has both a CTF [counter-threat finance] team and a TNT/CNT [transnational terrorism/counter narcoterrorism] division.  So does Northern Command (NORTHCOM), which has built up a whole group of Colorado Springs-based efforts fighting transnational criminal organizations (narcotics trafficking, human smuggling, weapons, money laundering/threat finance etc.), focused mostly on Mexico.

All of these field outposts feed into the counter-narcotics and counter trafficking intelligence efforts of the CIA – through its long-standing Crime and Narcotics Center — NSA, DIA, Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), etc.  Even the Navy’s Nimitz Operational Intelligence Center has a Transnational Threat Department (TNT).  This is not even to mention the two Joint Intelligence Agency Taskforces focused on the war on drugs: South (JIATF-S) in Key West and West (JIATF-W) at Camp Smith, Hawaii.  The Department of Homeland Security, of course, has gotten into the act, opening an ICE Bulk Cash Smuggling Center and other organizations.

None of this particularly surprises me, even when budgets are supposedly so strained.  But I can’t help continue to think that the entire effort is both cynical and ass-backwards.  If we want soft anything, we have to lead with non-military efforts.

The Obama administration, not surprisingly, has made it worse, contributing to the mission creep into organized crime and human trafficking, through its Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Addressing Converging Threats to National Security, released in July 2011.

That Strategy called for DOD to enhance its support to law enforcement with the creation of the  Narcotics and Transnational Crime Support Center.  James Miller, the new Under Secretary of Defense for Policy called the Center “a dedicated DoD-led center that integrates military, intelligence, and law enforcement analytic capabilities to go after key nodes in global criminal networks.”  It reflects, he says, “the added value that the Defense department brings to whole-of-government efforts against transnational organized crime.”

Kathleen Hicks, who replaces Miller as Principal Deputy, told Congress:  “DoD should also consider how it can play a role in breaking the links among criminal organizations, terrorists, and insurgencies.  As the President’s strategy states, “terrorists and insurgents are increasingly turning to TOC [transnational organized crime] to generate funding and acquiring logistical support to carry out their violent acts.” As the Department continues with its counterterrorism efforts around the world, it will be important to account for the links between criminal and terrorist entities.”

I’d never heard of this Center, and Internet research turns up very little.  What I’ve pieced together is that it is located in Crystal City, Virginia, and the director reports to the Deputy Assistant Security of Defense for Counter Narcotics and Global Threats.  Camber Corporation is providing signals intelligence (SIGINT) expertise to link the Center to NSA.  Semper Fi Solutions, Inc. is providing CENTCOM liaison officers in Tampa to the Crystal City based center, as well as corruption and “predatory” analysts.

Other contractors providing intelligence support to the trafficking empire include: BAE Systems, Celestar, Delex Systems, Duer Advanced Technology & Aerospace (DATA), FedSys, Inc., General Dynamics Information Technology, L-3 STRATIS, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Prosync Technology Group, and SAIC.  Parsons Corporation is working on the methamphetamine/precursor chemicals problem set for the DIA.

Finally, one has to ask, with all of the enhanced intelligence collection and sharing and border control that is part of the post 9/11 world, why is this problem getting worse?  How is that possible, that borders are more porous?  So much for the war against terrorism.  No wonder they call it the forever war.

Ardent Sentry 12: Homeland Defense Not So Ardent to Say Much

This Wednesday, May 2nd, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) kicks off its annual Ardent Sentry exercise, one of the largest homeland defense events, combining military support for disasters and counter-terrorism.

Ardent Sentries no doubt, those post 9/11 war planners in Colorado Springs, but they are awfully shy ones.  While the United States openly picks a fight with China through significant force structure changes in the Pacific and military exercises galore; while the U.S. tinkers with its Persian Gulf readiness and posture preparing for war with Iran, back home, Ardent Sentry 2012 (AS 12) is portrayed as a hurricane disaster preparedness drill so as to not antagonize the American public.

The first Ardent Sentry exercise was held in 2004, and like previous year’s exercises, this one is complex and multi-faceted, with both unclassified and Top Secret compartmented portions, including the increasingly secret and quiet activities with Mexican authorities.

The central activity of AS 12 is a large-scale command post exercise (CPX) focusing on NORTHCOM battlestaff preparedness and practice of war plans.  But the Joint Staff sanctioned “Tier I” event also includes:

  • Positive Response 12-1, a Joint Chiefs of Staff highly classified regular mobilization and planning exercise.
  • Canada Command exercises Staunch Maple 2012 (SM 12) and Frontier Sentinel (FS 12).  Canada Command is the new post 9/11 Canadian command equivalent to NORTHCOM.
  • Vigilant Guard-Oregon (VG-OR), one of a series of four annual National Guard exercises that this year will be regional and tactically focused, practicing the ‘Dual Status Commander’ program, the unheralded erosion of State control over state militias.
  • Nuclear Weapons Accident/Incident Exercise (NUWAIX) supported by Defense Threat Reduction Agency and focused on Air Force Global Strike Command accident response and emergency military contingencies at Minot AFB, North Dakota.
  • Amalgam Mako, a maritime mining exercise run concurrently with the Canadian Frontier Sentinel in northeast waters off Nova Scotia and extending to Connecticut.
  • Arctic Edge 12 (AE 12), a Joint Task Force Alaska exercise focused on military contingencies in Alaska and the Arctic, a region recently folded into NORTHCOM’s battlefield.
  • A Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio force protection and counter-terrorism exercise, including  scenarios “ranging from simulated terrorist attacks to a natural disaster with mass casualties.”

As part of Ardent Sentry, something called Task Force 51 (Fifth Army, U.S. Army North) will also exercise with Mexican security authorities, ostensibly practicing hurricane preparedness – on the border.  In the Texas-based scenario, a hurricane first makes landfall near Brownsville, blows back out to the Gulf and then hits the upper Texas coast, wreaking major damage to infrastructure.  Incident command posts will operate in Houston and San Antonio and in Alexandria, La, and include the Civil Air Patrol.  With its new Advanced Digital Reconnaissance Systems (ADRS), CAP is now an intelligence collector for homeland defense; everyone into the act!

Meanwhile, ARNORTH liaison officers posted to Mexican IV Military Region and the 8th Military Zone will skulk about with their Mexican counterparts.

Though Ardent Sentry is coinciding with National Level Exercise 2012 (NLE 2012), the Department of Homeland Security sponsored preparedness exercise involving interagency, State, and local agencies, it is decidedly not a part of NLE 12.  AS 12 is also not a sanctioned National Exercise Program (NEP) recognized event, and as such, NORTHCOM decides interagency participation.

In the official press release from NORTHCOM and NORAD announcing Ardent Sentry 2012, the combined commands merely say that the exercise will focus on “Defense Support of Civil Authorities, May 2 – 9, 2012.”

Field training events, it says, will take place in North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Alaska, Connecticut and Nova Scotia and involve United States and Canadian military units.  The Vigilant Guard exercise – not named in the press release – is described as “the Oregon National Guard will work with state and local officials to respond to numerous weather-related and security events.”  The Amalgam Mako/Frontier Sentinel exercise – also unnamed – is described as merely involving “a security related event.”

Nowhere in the press release is there mention of Mexico, even though the NORTHCOM commander told Congress in March that Ardent Sentry 12 would be the first time the U.S. and Mexico participated in the joint exercise.

Terrorist attacks, “red” shipping approaching the east coast, border control, support to State and local police, domestic intelligence collection, destruction of critical infrastructure, activation of the mobile command center: NORTHCOM seems incapable of any kind of transparency.  You could, of course, watch it all on ENN, the Exercise News Network, where the Joint Coalition Warfighting Center will produce simulated commercial press (video, audio, and print) response to the events, honing the ability to communicate with a simulated American public.

Homeland Security Decides ‘Open Source’ is in Name Only

Here’s an oddity of the Obama administration’s promoted transparency campaign, and a contradicting trend to the routine availability of government information online: The Department of Homeland Security has ended public distribution of its “open source” reports, pulling them behind a controlled firewall and limiting their distribution.

I know this because I’ve been receiving these reports – such as the DHS Daily Cyber Report — for years, and even note that when they did arrive in my inbox, the formerly helpful department “encouraged” redistribution.  “Please feel free to forward this email w/attachment to your co-workers and colleagues that might be interested in this product,” the daily email said.  The Report mostly ended up in my trash – they were little more than clippings and news summaries – but they were useful to get a sense of what DHS was distributing.

Now the Department is developing a closed “Community of Interest (COI)” on the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) and inviting its “partners” to apply for “secure” access to the reports.  If one is not already an HSIN user – limited to government, law enforcement, and contractors – one can apply for access.  New users should be nominated for access into one or more of the following HSIN communities:

  • DHS Federal Operations
  • FEMA Emergency Management
  • Emergency Services Information Sharing
  • Federal Law Enforcement
  • HSIN Critical Sectors

Oh, and only government and contractor personnel who are citizens of the United States will be given access.

The A-students of the Obama government have already elevated the status of unclassified information – that is, information whose release has no impact on national security – by creating a new category called “controlled unclassified information” (CUI), a way in which more not less can be withheld in the name of standardization.

The DHS, always seeking ways to be more national security, is intrinsically also forcing everyone to get special privileges before they can be members of a not very exclusive club.  This is the story of government, particularly in the excuse-laden era of cyber defense and Wikileaks: Nothing will be voluntarily surrendered to the people unless legislation demands it, and even then, what is formerly innocuous is then declared controlled and security in order to serve only the interests of those inside.