Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Homeland Security: Advancing the National Strategic Position

Academic journal article Homeland Security Affairs

Homeland Security: Advancing the National Strategic Position

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In March 2011, President Obama issued Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness. Its issuance and resulting implementation documents affirmed existing policy crafted under President George W. Bush, but the directive began a new chapter in the intent and scope of preparedness. Preparedness goals, risk assessment, tools, programs, and results expected from them experienced, to a greater or lesser extent, major refinements. To better understand the current policy, this article first chronicles the decade of refinement in the definition of national preparedness, its doctrines, and guidance from early framing under President Bush to the modifications made under President Obama.

Building on this history, the article describes a number of emerging policy themes and identifies policy concerns for federal policymakers to consider as the national preparedness strategic direction continues to advance. These concerns are (1) the operational approach to meeting a national preparedness goal; (2) implementation of capabilities by the "whole community" ? from the federal government to individual citizens ? to address the "maximum of maximums" threats; (3) the inclusion of slowly emerging threats as priorities for action in near-term preparedness strategies; and (4) federal control over other governmental levels in the national interest. At bottom, these policy concerns have a common root: whether the resources spent on the readiness efforts were worthwhile. Going forward, more realistic assessment of threats and preparedness capabilities and the identification of a proper balance of responsibility sharing seem in order. In addition, appropriate measurement approaches may well be found in management system standards already in existence.

President Bush and the Formative Years

After the September 2001 terrorist attacks, the federal government raised terrorism as the primary domestic threat. Major policies developments, the creation of a new domestic security department, and the issuance of a specific national homeland security strategy reflected the criticality of the threat. In June 2002, President Bush released Securing the Homeland: Strengthening the Nation.1 The president called the terrorist threat a permanent national condition and homeland security a new national calling. The document previewed the first homeland security national strategy, intended to be the national blueprint for confronting terrorism and that called for the federal government to partner with other levels of government, the private sector, and citizens. In another document, the president presented the organizational structure at the federal level considered best suited to meet the terrorism threat: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).2 The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) subsequently authorized the new department.

In July 2002, the Office of Homeland Security issued the first National Strategy for Homeland Security.3 The Strategy defined homeland security as "a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur."4 Terrorism prevention, vulnerability reduction, and minimizing damage and recovery were set as homeland security's strategic objectives. This initial definition of preparedness carried over during the subsequent decade. Prevention meant action at home and abroad to deter, prevent, and eliminate terrorism. Reducing vulnerability meant identifying and protecting critical infrastructure and key assets, and detecting terrorist threats and augmenting defenses, while balancing the benefits of mitigating risk against economic costs and infringements on individual liberty. Response and recovery focused on managing the consequences of attacks and building and maintaining the financial, legal, and social systems to recover. …

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