Homeland Security: A Competitive Strategies Approach / Protecting the American Homeland: A Preliminary Analysis

By Wiggins, Warren M. | Naval War College Review, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

Homeland Security: A Competitive Strategies Approach / Protecting the American Homeland: A Preliminary Analysis


Wiggins, Warren M., Naval War College Review


Hoffman, Frank G. Homeland Security: A Competitive Strategies Approach. Washington, U.C.: Center for Defense Information, 2002. 67pp. (no price given)

O'Hanlon, Michael E., et al. Protecting the American Homeland: A Preliminary Analysis. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2002. 188pp. $17.95

Since the events of 11 September 2001, a multitude of homeland defensive plans have been discussed at every level of government and the military, centering on the restructuring of existing organizations or increased financing. Each plan focuses on a single phase or group believed to be essential to the safety of our nation. These two books for review take different approaches. Homeland Security: A Competitive Strategies Approach, by Frank G. Hoffman, stays out of the tactical and operational level of the "war" and focuses on the strategic level and the planning cycle. Protecting the American Homeland: A Preliminary Analysis, by Michael E. O'Hanlon, Peter R. Orszag, Ivo H. Daalder, I. M. Destler, David L. Gunter, Robert E. Litan, and James B. Steinberg, analyzes the problems of national security, determines the progress of current programs, and designs an agenda for future endeavors.

Homeland Security offers a process to enhance U.S. capabilities through a simple "course of action" analysis based on comparisons of known and perceived threats with strategies used by policy makers in recent history. The authors envision three possible categories of attacks against the United States. The first is a missile attack, from intercontinental ballistic missiles or cruise missiles; the second is covert attack or catastrophic terrorism, involving an array of weapons of mass destruction smuggled into the United States; finally, they consider a cyber attack designed to destroy the U.S. information infrastructure. Each method is considered in terms of known and projected capabilities of national and transnational players, and of the four classic strategies of nonproliferation, deterrence, counter-proliferation, and preemption. Each "style" has been filtered through these four perspectives to discern strengths and weaknesses.

U.S. vulnerabilities are extensive. It will not be easy to protect the American people. The current approach of organizational restructuring to counter or prevent an attack, and the current assumption that the U.S. military can defend against an assault, may not meet the future need. Hoffman proposes a "serious policy debate" to consider the threat and risks and how to create an environment that will prevent an attack or at least make it very difficult for one to achieve the desired results. Hoffman provides valuable insights into the various strategies of homeland security that could be undertaken by the United States, making it clear that no single plan will suffice. Hoffman also discusses consequence management; if an attack is successful, a plan must be in place to mitigate its results.

Protecting the American Homeland argues that much could be achieved to improve homeland security at a cost that could be absorbed by both the federal government and the private sector. Working under the assumption that our large, open society provides little protection against terrorism, O'Hanlon's team presents a scheme to complicate terrorists' actions and therefore force them to engage less lucrative targets ("displacement") or to continue to plan for a difficult attack in ways that offer an opportunity for U. …

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