“I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We’ve created life in our own image.”
Maintaining Safety and Security; the Department of Homeland Security While there are many important agencies responsible for the safety and security of the American people, none are burdened so heavily with the expectation of excellence as the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security was founded in 2003 in the wake of the September 11th, 2001 attacks in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and New York City. This newly created agency became responsible for identifying and protecting Americans from terrorism, while maintaining national security. The DHS is the third largest agency, with 240,000 employees and 22 agencies merged into one. The DHS has often been criticized by civilian and government authorities for being too strict or failing to meet standards on all levels, but since September 11th, 2001 there has been no large scale successful attack upon American soil. The DHS continues to work to safeguard American interests and lives while maintaining a level of professionalism that serves the public.
The Importance of the Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security is the newest of all the agencies within the United States government and is often viewed as being an over-stretched arm, of an overbearing government. Many in the US feel that the DHS has been given too much authority, and infringes on the personal protections and freedoms of every American citizen. While every American is entitled to their opinion, this examination will show the DHS is not only an important agency designed to protect the American people against terrorism and aid during natural disasters; they assist in the war against terrorism. Without the agency, many Americans would be put at risk.
Domestic attacks on infrastructure, and civilian essential requirements such as food production and water supply, even cyber terrorism, could cripple our way of life in the United States. The DHS and its’ sub agencies are a commitment of the government to safeguard the lives and prosperity of the American people, and should be hailed as vigilant watchdog against danger, both foreign and domestic. The vision of The DHS, “to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards” (Department of Homeland Security, 2003) is but a humble acceptance to the arduous duty that is protecting this nation from its’ enemies.
The Brief History of the DHS Produces Results
“Eleven days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was appointed as the first Director of the Office of Homeland Security in the White House. The office oversaw and coordinated a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism and respond to any future attacks.” Terrorist tactics continue to evolve, and we must keep pace. Terrorists seek sophisticated means of attack, including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons, and cyber-attacks. Threats may come from abroad or be homegrown. (DHS, 2009) We must be vigilant against new types of terrorist recruitment as well, by engaging communities at risk being targeted by terrorist recruiters. With the passage of the Homeland Security Act by Congress in November 2002, the Department of Homeland Security formally came into being as a stand-alone, Cabinet-level department to further coordinate and unify national homeland security efforts, opening its doors on March 1, 2003.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a direct outgrowth of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, which highlighted America’s vulnerability to terrorism.Prior to September 11, 2001, what Americans now refer to as “homeland security”—protection of the nation, its people, its land, and its resources from attack—bore a different name: civil defense. The DHS condensed some 100 government agencies involved in emergency response. DHS would greatly streamline those activities. DHS has a threefold mission: to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, to reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and to minimize the danger from potential attacks and natural disasters. DHS works through its directorates, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Justice, State, Transportation, and Treasury. Additionally, DHS incorporated FEMA in its entirety, along with two GSA offices, the Computer Incident Response Center and the Office of Federal Protective Service.
The DHS is also responsible to review, analyze, and make recommendations for improvements in the policies and procedures governing the sharing of law enforcement information, intelligence information, intelligence-related information, and other information relating to homeland security within the Federal Government and between the Federal Government and State and local government agencies and authorities. All of these agencies must work together with a “no-fail” attitude. Coordinating such a massive effort of man power and resources to secure the safety on an individual level is a testament to the efforts of the DHS. A single person can only accomplish so much.
One soldier on one battlefield cannot win a war. The agencies within the DHS act as many people doing many different tasks to support safety, answering to one boss. We are not unlike lions, or a pack of dogs. We are at our best when we work as a group. This same philosophy is applied to the need of national security and safety. Just as ancient man hunted together the buffalo for tens of thousands of years in North America, or the men and woman in Africa protected themselves from large predators in groups together, our strength comes not from a lone individual, but the power of a society. To date, the United States of America has had no large scale attack resulting in a loss of lives totally over those attacks of September 11th, 2001. This is due in part because of intense training and legislation.
National Infrastructure Protection Plan
The DHS in 2009, along with many other government, and non-government organizations drafted a plan which covered everything related to national security, safety, and emergency preparedness in order to better sync groups in planning and prevention. The purpose of this plan protects the American people and their interest by training and identifying scenarios where threats are present, or action may be required. The plan stated in its publication to “Build a safer, more secure, and more resilient America by preventing, deterring, neutralizing, or mitigating the effects of deliberate efforts by terrorists to destroy, incapacitate, or exploit elements of our Nation’s CIKR, and to strengthen national preparedness, timely response, and rapid recovery of CIKR in the event of an attack, natural disaster, or other emergency.” Critical infrastructure must be secure and able to withstand and rapidly recover from all hazards.
Proactive and coordinated efforts are necessary to strengthen and maintain secure, functioning, and resilient critical infrastructure – including assets, networks, and systems – that are vital to public confidence and the Nation’s safety, prosperity, and well-being. This endeavor is a shared responsibility among Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial entities, and public and private owners and operators of critical infrastructure.(DHS, 2009)
This plan focuses on actual, potential, or threatened interference with, attack on, compromise of, or incapacitation of critical infrastructure or protected systems by either physical or computer-based attack or other similar conduct (including the misuse of or unauthorized access to all types of communications and data transmission systems) that violates Federal, State, or local law, harms interstate commerce of the United States, or threatens public health or safety (NIPP, 2009) This statement demonstrates the clear goals of this report and serves to ensure to the public that their safety and prosperity is in mind at all times. Many would suggest the DHS has a hidden agenda, yet offer no solid evidence of their opinions, or merely conjecture.
Emergency Preparedness of the DHS
The DHS does not merely focus on the prevention of terrorism, it also works with its’ sub agencies during time of national disaster and emergency. The DHS has devoted strategy and planning elements during the Boston bombings, hurricane Katrina, and other incidences where federal aid or response is required. The national preparedness system was developed to meet these requirements. This system is an integrated set of guidance, programs, and processes that will enable the Nation to meet the national preparedness goal. This system includes a series of integrated national planning frameworks, covering prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery. The frameworks were constructed upon scalable, flexible, and adaptable coordinating structures to align key roles and responsibilities to deliver the necessary capabilities. The frameworks shall be coordinated under a unified system with a common terminology and approach, built around basic plans that support the all-hazards approach to preparedness and functional or incident annexes to describe any unique requirements for particular threats or scenarios, as needed. This system has supported local and federal operations during moments of emergency, while maintaining a structure approach to disaster readiness.
Training emergency managers, firefighters, elected officials and other emergency responders through a variety of courses in all-hazards emergency planning and response is a key part of building a culture of preparedness. The agency has established and delivered effective training and professional education programs and developed a national certification system for overall emergency management competency and expertise. For example; the energy infrastructure is divided into three interrelated segments, including: electricity, petroleum, and natural gas. The U.S. electricity segment contains more than 6,413 power plants (this includes 3,273 traditional electric utilities and 1,738 nonutility power producers) with approximately 1,075 gigawatts of installed generation. Approximately 48 percent of electricity is produced by combusting coal (primarily transported by rail), 20 percent in nuclear power plants, and 22 percent by combusting natural gas.
The remaining generation is provided by hydroelectric plants (6 percent), oil (1 percent), and renewable sources (solar, wind, and geothermal) (3 percent). The heavy reliance on pipelines to distribute products across the nation highlights the interdependencies between the Energy and Transportation Systems Sector. The reliance of virtually all industries on electric power and fuels means that all sectors have some dependence on the Energy Sector. The Energy Sector is well aware of its vulnerabilities and is leading a significant voluntary effort to increase its planning and preparedness. The DHS has also extended its’ recommendations to citizens. Citizens have been instructed to have emergency rations on hand as part of emergency preparedness. At the time of institution, the DHSs’ Director Ridge encouraged Americans to stock up on food and water, as well as plastic sheeting and duct tape for sealing doors and windows. Ridge was criticized for what some observers described as scare mongering.
While every American is entitled to their opinion, I am here today to state that the DHS is not only an important agency designed to protect the American people against terrorism and aid and insist during natural disasters. The DHS continues to work to safeguard American interests and lives while maintaining a level of professionalism that serves the public. Romulus, may have founded Rome, but it did not grow to greatness through the will of one person. Rome was built of the backs of tens of thousands who shared a common interest. The DHS shares the interests of every American; safety and security. The credibility of any Organization wishing to please the public while maintaining safety is vital for the success of the organization itself. While credentials and experience of the DHS are effective in providing a foundation or pathway to a secure future to be built on, the confidence of DHS to protect us, or the charisma that is used by the individuals within the organization will show the results of the DHS to protect American prosperity and security.
National change, much like personal, professional, or even emotional change is an inevitable part of life. In order for any organization to grow and stay competitive, some or many changes will need to take place. Change on such a grand scale can sometimes present itself as unsettling, mysterious, even frightful, but it is change that often presents the largest opportunity for an organization to benefit. The attacks of the Twin Towers, in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon changed the way the United States dealt with national security.
When we see change happening to the country or environment we are a member of, we maybe be unsure how to react. Many people may begin to fear for their job security, or loss of certain privileges awarded to them by their country, these instincts are natural, but not always correct. The complexity of political, regulatory, and technological changes confronting most countries has made radical change and adaption a central research issue. (Greenwood, Hinings, 1996) “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” Barrack Obama
Department of Homeland Security. (2003, April). Our mission. Retrieved from http://www.dhs.gov/our-mission Hawking, S. H. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.hawking.org.uk/life-in-the-universe.html * Royston Greenwood
and C. R. Hinings, 1996 the Academy of Management Review pp. 1022-1054 * http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ296/pdf/PLAW-107publ296.pdf *