I believe the US military can play crucial roles in disaster damage control (especially engineers and MP's), but I don't believe they should take the lead. I also believe the state national guards should play more of a role than active duty units and reserves. There are civilian government organizations at both the state and federal levels that should take the lead, and should be prepared to take the lead.
The military can do terrific work at containing and controlling situations, gathering information, protecting civilians, and even rebuilding infrastructure. I just feel that if they have to be called upon to do these things in our country after a disaster, then our government isn't doing its job in the first place.
I said yes, because the National Guard already provides this work and we are, of course, a part of the military. If the President feels the regulars should join in this mission I hope that he will train them to do as we are trained already. I've served on flood relief many times in my career in the National Guard. One flood put 40 feet of water on Main Street in our capital, Montpelier. I've worked on ice storm damage, and even a train wreck. We had the tools and the training to do so. I think that if the regulars are to do this work they would have to have the training and equipment to do so, also they should have the coordination with the state government as to where and what must be done. Gee, that sounds like the National Guard again.
How about this? Return some of the National Guardsman who are constituting 50% of our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and have them perform disaster relief and send more regulars to the sand pit instead. Of course, I'm only suggesting that people perform the jobs they're trained for.
I voted no because the title was "lead role" and I don't think that squares with Posse Comitatus unless the area was attacked by a foreign power. The US regulars could certainly help out with search and rescue but why pay the "disaster control" people such as FEMA and the National Guard to do this sort of thing and, at the same time, put US forces where they don't belong. No, no lead role. The role of defending the country by being trained to kill people and break their stuff should be their main purpose in life.
I agree with both Charge and Missile. The National Guard is indeed a very, very important part of the active duty military in the US. I know they train for military deployment, not how to fill sandbags or perform crowd control. However, traditionally, the state national guards have served as primary help/support in local emergencies and the active duty military fulfilling that need in foreign countries.
I say keep the national guard (as much as possible) for homeland defense and domestic emergencies, and have the state and federal civil organizations handle planning and oversite in those situations.