This is going to be the first in a series of posts related to the Department of Homeland Security and other measures which came into being post-9/11.  The intent is to be informative as to the reason why some of the organization was done, the role of some of the organizations, and an explanation as to the differences and similarities between Homeland Security and National Security.  I will also try to address the “All hazards approach” to Homeland Security, the role of government in it at all levels as well as the responsibilities of the individual citizens of our country.  There will be no specified timeline or number/topics for this series.

When I first started this blog several months ago I had recently completed my degree.  In August of 2011 I completed a Bachelors of Art in Homeland Security.  This degree plan dovetailed very nicely with my chosen career in the military and I felt that it would give me some academic credentials to go along with the practical, and very real-world experience I have gained throughout my career.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I did not know about Homeland Security and National Security despite the fact that I had been a serving member of the military for so many years. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS from here on out) has only been in existence since the 21st century.  In fact it was signed into existence post-9/11 in a series of Executive orders and Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPD) by the President George W. Bush.  This was the first restructuring of government organizations since the Central Intelligence Act and National Security Acts of 1947.

On 8 October, 2001, President Bush signed Executive Order 13228, Establishing the Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council.  Starting on the 29th of October, 2001, Bush began a series of Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs)  which layout the framework for our Homeland Security initiatives.  As of today there are a total of 25 HSPDs with the most recent one being signed in 2009.

HSPD-1 is the original document which laid out the organization for the Homeland Security Council, which at that time was a separate organization under the President, which reported directly to him on matters that they felt dealt within the realm of Homeland Security as the developed them.  Certain portions of HSPD-1 have been superseded since 2001 as the Homeland Security Council and the Director of Homeland Security are now positions on the National Security Council.  The Director of Homeland Security can still report directly to the president in matter of Homeland Security, by-passing the NSC, allowing the Director to advise without the added layers of bureaucracy that would come with the NSC.

Among the most significant changes to the federal bureaucracy was the significant reorganizing of existing departments to include the combination of many agencies, the movement of several from their original Table of Organizations and the redefining of the responsibilities of many of them.  Significant to note is that originally the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was moved directly under DHS, losing its appointed Secretary position (this was a restructure again in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region).  One move that initially sparked some controversy was the assigning of authority for the US Coast Guard (USCG) from the Department of Defense (DoD) to DHS.  Technically, the USCG is still part of the DoD, but due to the unique mission they are assigned, their coastal patrol and defense of our shores is a function that falls directly under the DHS.

Among the key failings in government that allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen was the inability for our intelligence agencies to collect, gather, analyze and disseminate the information which could, possibly, have prevented the attacks.  One of the major missions of DHS which has been lost to the public view in the decade since it was created is as the clearing house for all intelligence which affects Homeland Security.  DHS has become the fusion center for information generated at all levels of government.  Each state and US territory has created, and is required, to have some office of homeland security matter, which then helps the flow of information that is generated at the local level up to the federal, as well as a means of information making its way downward to local authorities.  There are currently over 50 major and smaller centers which consist of all levels of law enforcement, emergency management and intelligence personnel with varying levels of security classification.  This method allows for the protection of the source while ensuring the information generated makes it to where it belongs.

Now that there is some context to the creation and role of DHS it should be a little easier to understand the differences between Homeland Security and National Security.  The two are neither exclusive nor inclusive of each other and they in no way reflect what Hollywood has habitually portrayed the two as being.

Lets start with the oft touted term of National Security.  Simply put, National Security is protecting that which affects our global reach and interests throughout the globe.  It includes our strategic goals militarily such as insuring democracy has a role and people are not threatened by their state (i.e., genocide as happened in the Balkans).  It also includes the assurance that global shipping shall remain free and unencumbered (this is just one example where NS and HS coincide in effort and definition).  National Security is a broad and not easily defined term, but in its most base examples it deals with protecting the global reach of America and that what reaches our shores is what we want to reach them (goods and services vice terrorism).

Homeland Security is a bit easier to define and give examples for, but it does blend with National Security on many levels.  Homeland Security has its roots at many levels of the government, but is center around Planning, Preparation, Recovery, and Mitigation.  Homeland Security uses the “all hazards approach” as a means of achieving these four goals.  All Hazards allows for a cross purpose to combating disasters within our borders.  Whether the disaster be man-made as in a terrorist incident, natural as in extreme weather or earthquake, an attempt to derail any of the Critical National Infrastructure or any of the smaller yet no less devastating emergencies that can happen, “all-hazards” is an attempt at giving the tools necessary at all levels of response.  Through grants, training, certifications and disaster exercises, first responders of various disciplines need to work together in order to move a disaster into the Recovery phase and begin Planning with Mitigation steps to avoid, defeat or adequately respond to the next potential disaster.  The four phases are a constantly evolving series of steps that begin with the implementation of the Plan prior to or in response to an event.  There will be further explanation of this in a future posting

In considering the definition of Homeland Security further, the blur between it and National Security falls most greatly into the reception of global goods into our Ports of Entry, immigrations and customs issues and protection of our critical national infrastructures such as: ports; power grid; agriculture; roadways; railways; airports; and, our skies.  That is not the extent of the list, but it is the most commonly identified infrastructures.  One that is included but rates a mention of its own is our cyber-security.  As the 21st century has been moving on, our critical infrastructure, to include the internet itself, have grown increasingly reliant upon the movement of data across the Global Information Grid.  Our efforts to secure and mandate security have not grown in proportion to the threats and several agencies and organization have claimed the role as their sole responsibility.  At the heart of the matter it is a DHS issue, but it will probably require some sort of cyber disaster before the role of lead on the issue(s) is assigned to one authority.  DHS will more than likely face the fallout from the all-hazards response.

Hollywood does not do the differences between National Security and Homeland Security any justice.  repeatedly in movies and on television they destroy the meaning behind the terms and the roles they play in our security as a nation.  Sometimes this is done as a political statement by the producers or writers, other times it is done in simple ignorance because national issues make for good film.  The so-called fair and balanced media does no better as acts they report on are skewed to their agendas and ideologies rather than educating the masses they reach so easily.  To be fair, our government and DHS especially do not do much to get the information out to the public.  It is there, provided you know where to look or are in the community of responders, but it is not collaborative, nor is it easy to find unless you know where to look.  That is one of the things I hope to change in this series of postings.

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