Toward a Unified Military Response: Hurricane Sandy and the Dual Status Commander

  • April 01, 2015
  • Dr Ryan Burke, Dr Sue McNeil



The 2013-14 Army War College Key Strategic Issues List stated: “If Hurricane Sandy is seen as an archetype of a complex catastrophe, then a careful analysis of the effectiveness of the DoD response within the context of dual status commanders [DSCs], lead federal agencies, and state response capabilities needs to be conducted.” This monograph does exactly that as it carefully and comprehensively analyzes the DSC-led military response to Hurricane Sandy in New York. Through this lens, it illustrates and discusses the perspectives of the DSC construct and offers recommendations for leveraging existing capabilities and improving those deemed insufficient. Using a case study approach, this analysis addresses notable issues of constitutionality, legality, policy, financial considerations, and even politics, all uniquely situated between individual states’ interests and those of the federal government. To provide military and defense officials with a greater understanding of the benefits and limitations of the DSC arrangement during a no-notice/limited-notice incident, this monograph offers objective and systematic documentation of the Sandy response. It concludes by offering a series of actionable recommendations aimed at improving operational decisionmaking, policy, and legislation specifically related to DSCs during no-notice/limited-notice incidents.