DoD Immediate Response Authority
Though there are a plethora of issues surrounding use of the Military in a disaster; under the Immediate Response Authority, military commanders are allowed to provide limited assistance in life-threatening situations for limited durations.
What Is the Immediate Response Authority?
Defense Support of Civil Authorities (“DSCA”) is the federal policy that allows Department of Defense (“DoD”) resources—be it personnel, equipment, or facilities—to support entities at the state and local level to respond to disasters and other emergency conditions.  Under this program is the
Immediate Response Authority (“IRA”). Normally, a request for use of DoD assets to preform DSCA missions (i.e. respond to a crisis or emergency) requires the President or Secretary of Defense to approve a written request from the supported entity.  However, IRA allows for this request process to be short-circuited in some circumstances. IRA allows for military commanders to respond
to a DSCA request from local civil authorities under “imminently serious conditions [ ] if time does
not permit approval from higher authority….”  The key here is that the power to provide this response is temporary and limited to only situations which are aimed to “prevent human suffering, or mitigate great property damage.”  DSCA missions under IRA will generally end when the whole reason why the request was submitted in the first place ceases to exist.  Though a request cannot be denied for lack of agreement to, generally requesting jurisdictions should be prepared to reimburse the federal government for use of DoD assets under IRA.  There are some exceptions that would require a fact intensive analysis under other federal regulations and statutes.
What Does This Mean for the Emergency Manager?
First, this is not the source of authority that allows for military installations to enter into mutual aid agreements with local civil authorities. These types of mutual aid requests are considered to be “DSCA mutual aid” or “automatic aid” request and governed by DoD Instruction 6055.06 “DoD Fire and Emergency Services Program”.  Even under that program, we’re talking basic Fire & Medical first responders to support; not other uniformed personnel or equipment. IRA allows for the uniformed personnel and equipment, such as non-Fire or EMS personnel, aviation assets (such as helicopters) and engineering assets (such as bridges and boats) to possibly be used in a dire needs circumstance. What is important for the Emergency Manager in a military town, is to be sure they know who to talk to in these two circumstances. A good working relationship and talking to the lawyers and Staff Judge Advocates (the Military Commander’s in-house counsel) early can help iron out how and what to do when minutes count.
 32 CFR §185.3 (West 2016).
 32 CFR §185.4(c)-(d) (West 2016).
 32 CFR §184.4 (g) (West 2016).
 32 CFR §184.4 (g) (West 2016).
 32 CFR §184.4(g)(2) (West 2016).
 32 CFR §184.4(g)(3) (West 2016).
 DoDI 6055.06, DoD Fire and Emergency Services Program, 27 (Dec. 21, 2006). See generally 42 USCA §5195 (2016) (Policy purpose gives the sense that congress intends to allow federal to local mutual aid agreements in some circumstnaces).