Civil Emergency Planning - NATO Equivalent To FEMA

NATO Handbook

The aim of Civil Emergency Planning in NATO is to coordinate national planning activity to ensure the most effective use of civil resources in collective support of Alliance strategic objectives. Civil Emergency Planning is a national responsibility and civil assets remain under national control at all times. However, at the NATO level, national intentions and capabilities are harmonised to ensure that jointly developed plans and procedures will work and that necessary assets are available. These assets include ships, aircraft, trains, medical facilities, communications, disaster response capabilities and other civil resources.

The main roles of Civil Emergency Planning in NATO reflect the fundamental security tasks of the Alliance and consist of civil support for the military under Article 5 and non-Article 5 crisis response operations, support for national authorities in civil emergencies and the protection of civilian populations. Beneath these very broad headings, Civil Emergency Planning has a role to play in managing the availability of civil assets and facilities and the maintenance of normal life during emergency situations such as war, crises and disasters. Increasingly, this work is carried out in close cooperation with Partner countries, who now play an active part in Civil Emergency Planning in NATO. Following the 11 September attacks in the United States, renewed efforts have been made to assist member nations in protecting civilian populations against the consequences of attacks from chemical, biological and nuclear agents.

All of this is brought together by the Senior Civil Emergency Planing Committee (SCEPC), which reports directly to the North Atlantic Council. The SCEPC meets at least twice a year in Plenary session and eight times a year in Permanent session. The Secretary General is Chairman of plenary sessions, but in practice these are chaired by the Assistant Secretary General for Security Investment, Logistics and Civil Emergency Planning while Permanent sessions are chaired by the Director of Civil Emergency Planning. Country representation at Plenary level is drawn from heads of national Civil Emergency Planning organisations in capitals. At Permanent level, members of national delegations at NATO Headquarters normally attend but may be reinforced from capitals. Reflecting the deep involvement of Civil Emergency Planning in PfP activities, SCEPC's twice-yearly Plenary meetings are also held in EAPC format, with attendance open to all Partner nations, and Permanent meetings with Partners are held at least four times a year.

Under the direction of the SCEPC, a number of technical Planning Boards and Committees bring together national government and industry experts and military representatives to coordinate planning in several areas of civil activity, namely:

Inland Surface Transport
Ocean Shipping
Civil Aviation
Food and Agriculture
Industrial production and supply
Post and telecommunications
Medical matters
Civil protection

These bodies meet regularly and provide the vital link between NATO policy and the means to carry it out. They are supported in their work by smaller, flexible working groups or specialised technical committees.

Overall direction of Civil Emergency Planning, at NATO and national level, is by Foreign Ministers, who decide priorities. However, the very wide range of Civil Emergency Planning requires careful coordination in capitals of contributions from the many ministries and national agencies involved in Civil Emergency Planning today.

As NATO adapted itself to the requirements of the changed security environment in Europe, it became clear that the role played by Civil Emergency Planning within the Alliance's overall strategic concept would also need to be examined. The principal tasks resulting from this review can be summarised as follows:

* supporting Alliance military operations under Article 5; (1)
* supporting non-Article 5 crisis response operations;
* supporting national authorities in civil emergencies;
* supporting national authorities in the protection of their populations against the effects of weapons of mass destruction; and
* cooperation with Partners in the Civil Emergency Planning field.

These priorities are reflected in the activities of the SCEPC and in the work programmes of its eight Planning Boards and committees.