Sunday, October 28, 2012

An Overview of Homeland Security (part II)

continued from An Overview of Homeland Security (part I)

How does homeland security all come together? 
Homeland Security exists because of the increasing danger of attacks, accidents and natural disasters in the modern world. Every action in homeland security may be thought of as contributing to Preparedness for or Response to such incidents. Some experts call this “Left of Boom” (that is before the incident), and “Right of Boom” (after the incident.
·         Preparedness has three parts:
o   Mitigation – reducing the impact of an event before it takes place (like moving people out of a flood zone before a flood begins).
o   Prevention – impossible for natural disasters but a high priority for counterterrorism, and thus the subject of major efforts by intelligence and law enforcement.
o   Protection – the shielding of people and things from the effects of an event if it does take place.
A good perspective on the various aspects of Preparedness is provided by the DHS National Infrastructure Protection Plan.
·         Response also has three parts:
o   Immediate Response – life and property saving measures in the first 72 hours “Right of Boom.”
o   Recovery – which includes all efforts at every level to return the victims of an event (whether individuals, business, or government) to their “Left of Boom” condition.
o   Resilience – a relatively new concept which emphasizes promoting the ability of individuals and organizations to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and rapidly recover from a disruptive event either on their own or with collaborative assistance at the lowest possible level.
·         A good perspective on the various aspects of Response is provided by the DHS National Response Framework.

The linear nature of this framework suggests the concepts are linear as well.  They are not. Improvements in Preparedness promote Response, and vice versa. All aspects of this framework are taking place at all times. (For example, New Orleans may be Recovering from a past hurricane while actively Preparing for the next.)
And finally, the whole business of homeland security can be quite expensive in money, time and opportunity cost. The cost of Preparedness (and by extension, Response) can be reduced by Risk Management. The cost of Response (and by extension, Preparedness) can be reduced by Whole of Community Resilience.

What are the remaining challenges? 
Now it gets interesting.
Everything discussed up until now has been a matter of organizing, employing, and resourcing capabilities, individuals or agencies. To a citizen, it all looks like moving boxes and lines on an organizational chart.
But huge hurdles remain, and they are all related to the human participants – getting people from different agencies to cross artificial boundaries and work together for the common good.  Training, Education, Management and Leadership are the tools of progress in homeland security – and unfortunately they have all proven inadequate to the task of truly coordinating efforts up until now.  
If the American experience demonstrates the power of a single motivating concept over the history of our nation, it is that of Incentive. So if there is one concept that deserves top attention as a problem solver in the field of homeland security, it is creating new incentives for people to work together within this framework. For future progress in homeland security, we must promote our Common Defense and General Welfare through new and imaginative incentives.

To summarize, one way to think about homeland security is that the types of concerns are not new, but the scope and scale of those concerns are. And many of the players who prepare for and respond to these concerns are not new either, but their coordination and capabilities most certainly are.  As a result, our preparedness and response to domestic security issues is greatly improved, and by extension, so is our ability to deal with public safety issues as well.
But human nature being what it is, we must ask “at what cost” have these improvements been gained? That is the subject for a different essay and a different day.
And of course, Thinking Enemies really do exist. And they are trying to unravel our improvements in homeland security more rapidly than we are instituting them.  Homeland Security can never be "solved." It can only be managed . . . from day to day to day . . ..

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