President Barack Obama has named Gov. Martin O'Malley one of two co-chairmen of a panel of state and federal officials focused on defense and homeland security, the governor's office said Monday.
The Maryland Democrat will co-chair the Council of Governors with Republican Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa.
The panel brings together 10 governors, the secretaries of defense and homeland security, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, the commandant of the Coast Guard, the commander of U.S. Northern Command and other key officials to discuss issues related to the National Guard, homeland security and defense support to civil authorities in the event of terrorism or natural disaster.
"There is no more important work in our country today than the work of first responders," O'Malley said in a statement. "For the last 10 years, together, we have been pursuing — first in Baltimore, then in the State as a whole — 12 Core Capacities to improve homeland security. Together, with our federal, state and local partners, we're working to build a more resilient Maryland and a more resilient nation."
One of the first issues addressed by the Council of Governors was the concept of dual status command, in which a single officer may be appointed during an emergency to command both federal (active duty military) and state (National Guard) personnel. O'Malley implemented dual status command during the response to Hurricane Sandy.
"That's the kind of leadership we're glad is being recognized not just in Maryland, but across the nation," said Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins, commander of the Maryland National Guard.
The Council of Governors was signed into law in 2008 by President George W. Bush and appointed in 2010 by Obama.
O'Malley, a member of the panel since 2010, succeeds Democratic former Gov. Chris Gregoire of Washington as co-chair. Gregoire left office last month after declining to run for a third term as governor.
O'Malley is also co-chair of the National Governors Association Special Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety and serves on the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council.
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