Guide to emergency management and related terms, definitions, concepts, acronyms, organizations, programs, guidance & legislation



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Civil Defense Board: Established on November 25, 1946 by Secretary of War Patterson in the War Department to study federal civil defense. Major General Harold R. Bull was named Director. (Gessert, Federal Civil Defense Organization, 1965, p. 62)
Civil Defense Education (CDE) Program: “The mission of the Civil Defense Education Program is to establish civil preparedness instruction as a integral part of the existing school program in each State. Instruction materials developed and activities sponsored under the CDE Program are designed to get disaster preparedness and survival information before pupils in school curricula. An equally important facet of the program is to assist school districts in preparing a hazard-safe school environment augmented by a disaster plan that covers hazards common to their districts.” (DCPA Foresight, DCPA Annual Report FY73, 1974, p. 21)
Civil Defense University Extension Program (CDUEP): “The extension divisions of land-grant colleges and universities, because of their experience in local communities and by reason of their facilities have a unique capability for civil preparedness training and education. Under contracts with DCPA, the extension divisions of the colleges and universities conduct conferences for government officials, train instructors, and give professional training courses in local communities.” (DCPA, Foresight, DCPA Annual Report FY73, 1974, p. 21)
Civil Defense, Historical Federal Organization for Civilian Civil Defense (1950-1979):

  • Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA, Executive Office of President, 1950-1951)


  • Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA, 1951-1958)

  • Office of Defense and Civilian Mobilization (ODCM (EOP) 1958)

  • Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization (OCDM, EOP, 1958-1961)

  • Office of Civil Defense (OCD, Department of Defense, 1961-1964

  • OCD (Department of the Army, DoD, 1964-1972)

  • Defense Civil Preparedness Agency (DCPA, DoD (1972-1979)

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA, 1979-19947)

(National Archives, Guide to Federal Records, Records of FEMA, Record Group 311, p. 2)
Civil Disturbance: “Group acts of violence and disorder prejudicial to public law and order.” (DOD Dictionary of Military and Related Terms, 2007)
Civil Disturbance Readiness Conditions: “Required conditions of preparedness to be attained by military forces in preparation for deployment to an objective area in response to an actual or threatened civil disturbance.” (DOD Dictionary of Military and Related Terms, 2007)

Civil Disturbances: “Group acts of violence and disorders prejudicial to public law and order within the 50 States, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. possessions and territories, or any political subdivision thereof. As more specifically defined in DoD Directive 3025.12 (Military Support to Civil Authorities), “civil disturbance” includes all domestic conditions requiring the use of Federal Armed Forces.” (DoD, MACDIS, 1994, p. 17; Title 32 CFR 185)
Civil Disturbance Operations. “The President has the authority to deploy troops within

the United States to enforce the laws. The Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order, Chapter 15 of Title 10 USC (formerly Insurrection Act) authorizes the President to employ the Armed Forces of the US, including the NG, within the United States to restore order or enforce federal law after a major public emergency (e.g., natural disaster, serious public health emergency, or terrorist attack) when requested by the state governor or when the President determines that the authorities of the state are incapable of maintaining public order. The President normally executes his authority by ordering the dispersal of those obstructing the enforcement of the laws. The President may act unilaterally to suppress an insurrection or domestic violation without the request or authority of the state/governor and to exercise his “major public emergencies” authority to direct the SecDef to provide supplies, services, and equipment necessary for the immediate preservation of life and property. Such supplies, services, and equipment may be provided: only to the extent that the constituted authorities of the state or possession are unable to provide them; only until such authorities and other departments and agencies of the United States charged with such responsibilities are able to provide them; and only to the extent that their provision, in the judgment of the SecDef, will not interfere with the preparedness of ongoing military operations or functions. Responsibility for the coordination of the federal response for civil disturbances rests with the Attorney General. Any DOD forces employed in civil disturbance operations shall remain under military authority at all times. Forces deployed to assist federal and local authorities during times of civil disturbance follow the use-of-force policy found in CJCS Instruction (CJCSI) 3121.01B, Standing Rules of Engagement/Standing Rules for the Use of Force for US Forces.” (JCS/DoD, Civil Support, 2007, pp. III-4-5)

Civil Emergency: “Any occasion or instance for which, in the determination of the President, federal assistance is needed to supplement state and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States.” (DOD, DOD Dictionary of Military and Related Terms, 2007)
Civil Emergency: “Any natural or manmade disaster or emergency that causes or could cause substantial harm to the population or infrastructure. This term can include a “major disaster” or “emergency” as those terms are defined in the Stafford Act, as amended, as well as consequences of an attack or a national security emergency. Under 42 U.S.C. 5121, the terms “major disaster” and “emergency” are defined substantially by action of the President in declaring that extant circumstances and risks justify his implementation of the legal powers provided by those statutes.” (Title 32 CFR 185; DoD, MACDIS, 1994, p. 17)
Civil Emergency: “An emergency relating to other than the military security of the

United States.” (USACE, Planning and Operations Guidelines, Annex V: Definitions and Common Terms, 1985, p. V-3)

Civil Emergency Preparedness: “The nonmilitary actions taken by Federal Agencies, the private sector, and individual citizens to meet essential human needs, to support the military effort, to ensure continuity of Federal authority at national and regional levels, and to ensure survival as a free and independent nation under all emergency conditions, including a national emergency caused by threatened or actual attack on the United States.” (DoD, MACDIS, 1994, p. 18)

Civil-Military Operations: “The activities of a commander that establish, maintain, influence, or exploit relations between military forces, governmental and nongovernmental civilian organizations and authorities, and the civilian populace in a friendly, neutral, or hostile operational area in order to facilitate military operations, to consolidate and achieve operational US objectives. Civil-military operations may include performance by military forces of activities and functions normally the responsibility of the local, regional, or national government. These activities may occur prior to, during, or subsequent to other military actions. They may also occur, if directed, in the absence of other military operations. Civil-military operations may be performed by designated civil affairs, by other military forces, or by a combination of civil affairs and other forces. Also called CMO.” (DOD, DOD Dictionary of Military and Related Terms, 2007)

Civil Preparedness: “`Civil preparedness’ means all those activities and measures designed or undertaken (A) to minimize or control the effects upon the civilian population of major disaster, (B) to minimize the effects upon the civilian population caused or which would be caused by an attack upon the United States, (C) to deal with the immediate emergency conditions which would be created by any such attack, major disaster or emergency, and (D) to effectuate emergency repairs to, or the emergency restoration of, vital utilities and facilities destroyed or damaged by any such attack, major disaster or emergency. Such term shall include, but shall not be limited to, (i) measures to be taken in preparation for anticipated attack, major disaster or emergency, including the establishment of appropriate organizations, operational plans and supporting agreements; the recruitment and training of personnel; the conduct of research; the procurement and stockpiling of necessary materials and supplies; the provision of suitable warning systems; the construction and preparation of shelters, shelter areas and control centers; and, when appropriate, the nonmilitary evacuation of the civilian population; (ii) measures to be taken during attack, major disaster or emergency, including the enforcement of passive defense regulations prescribed by duly established military or civil authorities; the evacuation of personnel to shelter areas; the control of traffic and panic; and the control and use of lighting and civil communication; and (iii) measures to be taken following attack, major disaster or emergency, including activities for fire fighting; rescue, emergency medical, health and sanitation services; monitoring for specific hazards of special weapons; unexploded bomb reconnaissance; essential debris clearance; emergency welfare measures; and immediately essential emergency repair or restoration of damaged vital facilities.” (CT General Assembly, P.A. 73-544), Chapter 517, Civil Preparedness. Department of Emergency Management and HS)

Civil Preparedness: “…civil preparedness…must be useful every day, and not just a standby program, to be used in the event of an enemy attack. The way toward readiness for any eventuality is to prepare every U.S. community as fully as possible to meet the dangers of peacetime disasters. This also lays the solid foundation for emergency operations in event on an enemy attack. In time, ‘civil preparedness’ is expected to become a household term – replacing ‘civil defense’ in the American consciousness as a more meaningful and tangible expression of the responsibility of Federal, State, and local government for the safety and protection of the public.” (DCPA, Civil Preparedness – A New Dual Mission, 1972, p. 1)
Civil Preparedness: Civil Preparedness “is not a separate function set apart from the normal responsibilities of government, or a special unit or group of people standing by to save the day in case of a major disaster…the forces responsible for civil preparedness emergency operations are the normal forces of government, together with any trained auxiliaries needed – plus non-governmental personnel or groups, doctors, and hospital and news media staffs… emergency operations require coordinated action by all forces with lifesaving capabilities, under the leadership and direction of key local executives.” (DCPA, Standards for Local Civil Preparedness, 1978, p. 2)
Civil Preparedness Directors/Coordinators: “The term ‘civil preparedness Director/Coordinator is used in recognition of the variation in both the official title and duties of the position, is States and localities throughout the Nation.” (DCPA, Standards for Local Civil Preparedness (CPG 1-5), 1978, p. 1)

Civil Preparedness Directors/Coordinators Responsibilities: “The essence of the Director/Coordinator’s job in non-emergency periods is to act on behalf of the chief executive to build readiness for coordinated operations in both peacetime and attack-caused emergencies. This requires working with the operating departments of local government, with non-governmental groups, and with the public. These are primarily staff, not ‘command,’ functions…. During emergencies, the Director/Coordinator acts as principal advisor or aide to the chief executive on local government emergency operations. His major responsibility is to assure coordination among the operating departments of government (and with higher and adjacent governments), primarily by seeing that the Emergency Operating Center functions effectively. He also assists the chief executive in assuring execution of operations, plans, and procedures required by the emergency.” (DCPA/DOD, Standards for Local Civil Preparedness (CPG 1-5) April 1978, pp. 9-10)

Civil Preparedness Directors/Coordinators, Local Emergency Operations Readiness Duties: “The duties outlined below are typical of those performed by the local civil preparedness Director/Coordinator in non-emergency periods, to develop readiness for operations in emergencies:


  1. Develop an Emergency Operating Center (EOC) facility, a protected site from which key local officials control operations

  2. Develop EOC staffing and internal procedures to permit key local officials to conduct coordinated operations in emergencies.

  3. Conduct tests and exercises to give key local officials practice in directing coordinated operations under simulated emergency conditions.

  4. Provide expert knowledge and advice to operating departments on the special conditions and operating requirements that would be imposed by peacetime or attack disasters.

  5. Develop local government emergency operations plans, outlining which local forces and supporting groups would do what, in both peacetime and attack disasters, and specifying local organization for major emergencies.

  6. Establish system to warn the public of peacetime or attack disasters.

  7. Establish system to alert key local officials.

  8. Organize radiological monitoring and analysis system, including procurement of instruments and training and exercising of personnel.

  9. Coordinate and lead emergency communications planning, secure necessary equipment, and exercise emergency communications

  10. Coordinate with doctors, hospitals, and public and private sector medical personnel to develop emergency medical plans and capabilities, as part of local emergency plans.

  11. Establish and maintain a shelter system.
  12. Establish and exercise an emergency public information system and train personnel to utilize it.


  13. Coordinate with welfare offices, and the Red Cross and other voluntary groups, to develop emergency welfare capabilities to care for people needing mass care as a result of peacetime or attack disaster.

  14. Coordinate and maintain relationships with industry to develop industrial emergency plans and capabilities in support of local government emergency plans.

  15. Assist local operating departments (e.g., fire, police, public works) with radiological defense and other training needs.

  16. Coordinate and participate in training programs for the public on disaster preparedness.

  17. Assist in the establishment of mutual aid agreements to provide needed services, equipment or other resources in an emergency.

  18. Prepare, submit, and justify the annual civil preparedness budget.

  19. Secure matching funds and other assistance available through the civil preparedness program, and through other Federal programs (includes preparing annual program papers and other documents required for Federal assistance programs).” (DCPA, Standards for Local Civil Preparedness, 1978, pp. 1-2)

Civil Preparedness Directors/Coordinators, Professional and Personal Skill Set: “Since the bulk of the Director/Coordinator’s responsibilities will involve contacts with the heads of local government departments, as well as officials from other government levels, applicants should show leadership qualities, and an ability to manage and coordinate the civil preparedness program. In addition, applicants should have the ability to meet and deal with the public effectively, and be reliable and trustworthy. According to field studies, personal traits considered important for the civil preparedness Director/Coordinator, by chief executives and other local officials, included enthusiasm for the job, ability to work with others, integrity, friendliness, cooperativeness, ability to coordinate and expedite, administrative ability, and reputation and stature within the community. Probably the most important single personal trait is dedication to the civil preparedness program. In evaluating candidates, interview boards and chief executives should keep in mind the duties of the local Director/Coordinator in emergency periods, They should ask themselves, ‘Would I place confidence in the recommendations and advice of this applicant, in making decisions that could affect the preservations of life and property, in an emergency affecting this jurisdiction.” (DCPA/DOD, Standards For Local Civil Preparedness (CPG 1-5), April 1979, p. 11)

Civil Protection: “The phrase ‘civil protection’ has gradually come into use around the world as a term that describes activities which protect civil populations against incidents and disasters (Mauro, 1996)….Civil protection has gradually and rather haltingly emerged from the preceding philosophy of civil defense.” (Alexander, 2002, 4)
Civil Resources: “Resources that normally are not controlled by the Government, including workforce, food and water, health resources, industrial production, housing and construction, telecommunications, energy, transportation, minerals, materials, supplies, and other essential resources and services. Such resources cannot be ordered to support needs of the public except by competent civil government authority.” (DoD, MACDIS, 1994, p. 18)
Civil Search and Rescue (Civil SAR): “Search operations, rescue operations, and associated civilian services provided to assist persons and property in potential or actual distress in a non-hostile environment.” (National Search and Rescue Committee, National Search and Rescue Plan of the United States, 2007, p. 1)

Civil Support: “The Secretary of Defense shall provide military support to civil authorities for

domestic incidents as directed by the President or when consistent with military readiness and appropriate under the circumstances and the law. The Secretary of Defense shall retain command of military forces providing civil support. The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall establish appropriate relationships and mechanisms for cooperation and coordination between their two departments.” (Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5, 28 February 2003)

Civil Support (CS): “CS is the overarching term for DOD’s support to civilian authorities. DOD’s role in the CS mission consists of support to US civil authorities (Department of

Homeland Security [DHS] or other agency) for domestic emergencies and for designated law enforcement and other activities. HD [Homeland Defense]and CS operations may occur in parallel and require extensive integration and synchronization.” (JCS/DoD, Civil Support, vii)


Civil Support, Requests for Military Assistance: “Federal agencies or state governors request DOD capabilities to support their emergency response efforts by using a formal RFA [Requests for Assistance] process. How DOD handles RFAs depends on various factors, such as: Stafford or non-Stafford Act situation, urgency of the incident, establishment of a JFO, if a DCO or JTF has been appointed, and originator of the request (incident command, state, regional, or national). It is important to note that not all CS is provided via the RFA process. Other processes for obtaining and/or providing support are covered in more detail in Chapter III, “Operations.”
(1) Civil authorities may request other CS activities in writing through various means established

by the appropriate DOD policy documents. For example, support for military fly-overs may be requested using DD Form 2535 as described in DODD 5410.18, Public Affairs Community Relations Policy.

(2) In general…The FCO at the incident site receives RFAs from civil authorities and submits them to the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Department of Defense, who forwards them to the ASD(HD&ASA) and to the JDOMS for validation and order processing, respectively. When a DCO is at the incident site, RFAs are submitted directly to ASD(HD&ASA). Once the SecDef approves the request, an order is issued to combatant commands, Services, and/or agencies to accomplish the mission. The decision process differs significantly for approving Stafford and non-Stafford RFAs (see Figure II-2). Requests are validated at all levels within the chain of command. JDOMS prepares an order and coordinates with necessary force providers,

legal counsel, and ASD(HD&ASA) to ensure asset deconfliction and recommendation concurrence. DOD evaluates all requests by US civil authorities for military assistance against six established criteria, including:

(a) Legality. Is the support in compliance with laws, Presidential directives?

(b) Lethality. Is use of lethal force by or against DOD personnel likely or expected?

(c) Risk. Safety of DOD forces. Can the request be met safely, or can concerns be mitigated by equipment or training?

(d) Cost. Who pays, and what is the impact on DOD budget?

(e) Appropriateness. Is the requested mission in the interest of DOD to conduct? Who normally performs and is best suited to fill the request?

(f) Readiness. What is the impact on DOD’s ability to perform its primary mission?” (JCS/DoD, Civil Support, 2007, pp. II-3-4)


Civilian Mobilization Office: Created on March 1, 1950 within the National Security Resources Board. Paul J. Larsen named Chairman. (Gessert, Federal Civil Defense Organization, 1965, 64)
CJIS: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, DOD. (DA, WMD-CST Ops, 2007, Glossary-1)
CJCSI: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (DOD) Instruction. (DA, WMD-CST Ops, 2007, Glossary-1)
CJCSI 3110.16: Military Capabilities, Assets, and Units for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosives Consequence Management Operations.
CJCSI 3121.01B: Standing Rules of Engagement/Rules for the Use of Force for US Forces.
CJCSI 3125.01B: Defense Support of Civil Authorities to Domestic Consequence Management Operations in Response to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, or High-Yield Explosives Incidents.

CJCSIM: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (DOD) Manual. (DA, WMD-CST Ops, 2007, Glossary-1)

CJTF-CS: Commander, Joint Task Force-Civil Support. (JCS/DOD, CBRNE CM, 2006, II-10)
CLAS: Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services. (CDC, Reaching At Risk Populations, 2007, p. 22)
CLE: Cabinet-Level Exercise (formerly Catastrophic Assessment Task Force Exercises). (DoD, Statement of Verga, 2007, p. 13)
CLF: Congregate Lodging Facility. (FEMA, Capability Assessment and Standards for State and Local Government (Interim Guidance), November, 1983, p.21)

Climate Change: “The climate of a place or region is changed if over an extended period (typically decades or longer) there is a statistically significant change in measurements of either the mean state or variability of the climate for that place or region. Changes in climate may be due to natural processes or to persistent anthropogenic changes in atmosphere or in land use. Note that the definition of climate change used in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is more restricted, as it includes only those changes which are attributable directly or indirectly to human activity. (UN/ISDR, Terminology: Basic Terms of Disaster Risk Reduction, March 31, 2004)


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