The national emergency management system has need of significant improvement in its contingency planning and early consolidation of effort and coordination between federal, state, and local agencies for Incidents of National Significance. This improvement should be supported with the understanding that federalizing a response is appropriate only under the direst of circumstances. More appropriately, the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the states need to become better partners in planning for, exercising for, and responding to Incidents of National Significance. Despite recent calls for the contrary in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it would be antithetical to the U.S. system of governance and its philosophical underpinnings for the local response to be federalized too early, and for the DoD to assume the lead agency for responding to Incidents of National Significance. Legislating change and establishing specific requirements in law for cooperative DHS, DoD, and state training and exercises would establish minimum requirements for regional planning and preparedness and, ultimately, a better response. It is time to improve the efforts and responsibilities of the federal agencies with reality and codify, train, and exercise them so that the national response capability reflects the professionalism of state and local agencies.