From today’s Washington Times, Sec. Ridge makes a case for keeping the idea of DHS adopting a regional office structure – an idea that received a lot of attention in 2004, but has lost support in 2005:
The two key paragraphs in the piece:
Sitting on departmental shelves is a comprehensive analysis in which multi-state regions have been identified consistent with both traditional and new security requirements. Primary and backup locations already have been targeted for specific regional offices. Roles and responsibilities already have been clarified. Even the precise number of employees at each office has been calculated. Every detail of the next step has been painstakingly provided. What remains lacking is congressional approval for creating this new level of capability across the country….
As part of the regional plan, New Orleans is earmarked as a regional hub. Had that hub been in place, trusted relationships among federal, state and local partners would have spirited life-saving actions sooner rather than later. We would have had knowledge of state and local contingency plans and associated gaps. We would have exercised as a team, established operation centers or necessary unified command structures. We would have known what federal assets to request and where they should have been pre-positioned. Everyone would have known how, when and by what method to provide comprehensive situational awareness back to a central point of command.