Commander Peter J.
Byrne to Oversee Colorado Wildfire Response
June 30, 2012
A National Guard dual-status
commander has been recently appointed to support wildfire response and
relief efforts in Colorado, according to Defense Department and National
Air Force Col. Peter J. Byrne -- director of the joint staff, Joint
Force Headquarters-Colorado -- was selected by Colorado Gov. John
Hickenlooper in agreement with Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, the
Colorado National Guard reported.
continues to burn in the Mount Saint Francis area of Colorado Springs,
Colo., while firefighters battle several fires in Waldo Canyon, June 28,
2012. The Waldo Canyon fire has claimed 18,500 acres and burned more
than 300 homes. The U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Air Force Space
Command, Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., and Fort Carson, Colo., have
joined local organizations to fight the fires. U.S. Air Force photo by
Master Sgt. Jeremy Lock
"The dual-status commander will coordinate military firefighting efforts
in the state," Hickenlooper said. "This commander operates as the
liaison to make sure that we can take federal assets and airmen,
soldiers, bulldozers, helicopters, Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems
aircraft and get whatever tool we need."
Byrne, who is a Colorado resident, will work with fire incident
When agreed upon by the secretary of defense and the governor of an
affected state, dual-status commanders can direct both federal active
duty forces and state National Guard forces in response to domestic
incidents, Defense Department officials said.
The unity of effort is intended to foster greater cooperation among
federal and state military assets during a disaster.
The dual-status commander concept was most recently used in support of
the NATO Summit in Chicago in May.
Byrne is a command pilot with more than 2,500 military flying hours and
more than 145 combat hours, officials said. He was commissioned in 1984
and joined the Colorado Air National Guard in 1991.
"Working hand in hand with active duty forces is something the National
Guard has performed seamlessly for more than 10 years in overseas
missions," Byrne said. "Though the circumstances are tragic, bringing
this experience of partnership to help friends, family and neighbors is
a rewarding and natural extension of this valuable relationship."
to Defense Department officials:
The nation's governors led the creation of this new opportunity for
collaboration. Dual-status commanders ensure that state and federal
military forces work together effectively together when states request
federal forces. Through this improved partnership, military forces
responding to the wildfires will be better able to avoid duplication of
effort and support the needs of the incident and the American people.
The dual-status commander concept was codified in 2011, with 10 USC -
12304 as the usual and customary command and control arrangement for
missions involving the simultaneous deployment of active duty, Reserve
and National Guard forces in support of civilian authorities during
major disasters and other emergencies.