To a greater degree than at any point in history, individuals and small groups, from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on the one hand to criminal networks and terrorist organizations on the other, have the ability to engage the world with far-reaching effects, including those that are disruptive and destructive (Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report: A Strategic Framework for a Secure Homeland, 2010).
When considering all the forces that threaten the United States the interest lies in those that blend the high-tech capabilities of modern weaponry with the power and opportunity of asymmetric tactics such as terrorism and cyber warfare. We are confronted not only by new employment of conventional weaponry, but also by the hybrid temperament of these threats. We have seen their result on the American homeland. It must be remembered that we face a determined and constantly adapting adversary. The attempted terrorist attack on Flight 253 on December 25, 2009, is a powerful illustration that terrorists will go to great lengths to try to defeat the security measures that have been put in place since 9/11 (Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report: A Strategic Framework for a Secure Homeland, 2010).
A six-point agenda for the Department of Homeland Security was developed and put into place in July 2005. This was developed in order to ensure that the Department's policies, operations, and structures were aligned in the best way to address any potential threats, both present and future, that face this nation. The six-point agenda was structured to guide the department in the near-term and result in changes that:
1. Increased overall preparedness, particularly for catastrophic events
2. Created better transportation security systems to move people and cargo more securely and efficiently
3. Strengthened border security and interior enforcement and reform immigration processes
4. Enhanced information sharing with our partners
5. Improved DHS financial management, human resource development, and procurement and information technology realign the DHS organization to maximize mission performance (Department Six-point Agenda, 2008).
Sustaining the agenda, the department proposed to realign the Department of Homeland Security in order to increase its ability to prepare, prevent, and respond to terrorist attacks and other emergencies. These changes were made in order to better integrate the Department and give department employees better tools to accomplish their mission. A new Directorate of Policy was created in order to be the primary Department-wide coordinator for policies, regulations, and other initiatives ensure consistency of policy and regulatory development across the department perform long-range strategic policy planning assume the policy coordination functions previously performed by the Border and Transportation Security (BTS) Directorate
include Office of International Affairs, Office of Private Sector Liaison, Homeland Security Advisory Council, Office of Immigration Statistics, and the Senior Asylum Officer.
Another agenda item was to strengthen intelligence functions and information sharing. A new Office of Intelligence and Analysis was developed in order to ensure that information is:
gathered from all relevant field operations and other parts of the intelligence community analyzed with a mission-oriented focus informative to senior decision-makers
disseminated to the appropriate federal, state, local, and private sector partners
This effort is led by a Chief Intelligence Officer who reports directly to the Secretary, this office is comprised of analysts within the former Information Analysis directorate and draw on expertise of other department components with intelligence collection and analysis operations.
Improve Coordination and Efficiency of Operations (Department Six-point Agenda, 2008).
A new Director of Operations Coordination was also appointed in order to:
conduct joint operations across all organizational elements coordinate incident management activities use all resources within the Department to translate intelligence and policy into immediate action
The Homeland Security Operations Center, which serves as the nation's nerve center for information sharing and domestic incident management on a 24/7/365 basis, has been a very critical part of this new office (Department Six-point Agenda, 2008).
Another function of the office was determined to be enhanced coordination and deployment of preparedness assets. The Directorate for Preparedness was created in order to:
consolidate preparedness assets from across the Department
facilitate grants and oversee nationwide preparedness efforts supporting first responder training, citizen awareness, public health, infrastructure and cyber security and ensure proper steps are taken to protect high-risk targets focus on cyber security and telecommunications include a new Chief Medical Officer, responsible for carrying out the Department's responsibilities to coordinate the response to biological attacks
Managed by an Under Secretary this Directorate will include infrastructure protection, assets of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness responsible for grants, training and exercises, the U.S. Fire Administration, and the Office of National Capitol Region Coordination.
Other Department Realignments that have taken place have included:
* Improving national response and recovery efforts by focusing FEMA core functions. FEMA answers directly to the Secretary of Homeland Security. This was done in order to make stronger and enhance our Nation's ability to respond to and recover from manmade or natural disasters. FEMA focuses on the historic and vital mission of response and recovery.
* Incorporating Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) into Broader Aviation Security Efforts. The Federal Air Marshal Service was relocated from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau to the Transportation Security Administration in order to increase operational organization and strengthen the efforts to meet the common goal of aviation security.
* Combining Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs. This new Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs merged certain functions among the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Office of State and Local Government Coordination in order to streamline intergovernmental relations efforts and better share homeland security information with members of Congress as well as state and local officials.
* Consigning Office of Security to Management Directorate. The Office of Security was relocated in order to return its oversight of that office to under the Secretary for Management. This was done in order to better manage information systems, contractual activities, security accreditation, training and resources (Department Six-point Agenda, 2008).
The Homeland Security Act was implemented as a result of the tragedy that took place on September 11, 2001. The purpose was to better align the different agencies across the government that had some responsibility for security. It also set out to make sure that nothing like the disaster that happened in 2001 ever happens again. It established one department that would go forward with being in charge of all security functions for the country. This department is responsible for overseeing all the different departments in order to make sure that everyone is on the same page. The department has worked to close any gaps that were identified to exist that were found to be security weaknesses. It has set out to establish a unity among the different security agencies in order to ensure that this country is as well protected as possible. There are many things and people who pose a security threat to this country on a daily basis and being prepared for these is the best defense that there is. The further that we can stay ahead of the bad guys the better off that we are. The establishment of this department has allowed the country as a whole to reevaluate the ways in which we were doing things, make appropriate changes and emerge much better off than we were before. The bottom line is that we must protect our country in order to ensure that our nation prospers and continues to be progress for generations to come.
Department Six-point Agenda. (2008). Retrieved July 18, 2010, from Department of Homeland
Security Web site: http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/history/editorial_0646.shtm
Gressle, Sharon S. (2003). Homeland Security Act of 2002: Legislative History and Pagination