Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 11, 2006

Homeland security and homeland defense: filling the seam

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Homeland Defense — by Christian Beckner on April 11, 2006

The journal Homeland Security Affairs has a new issue now online, which contains several interesting articles, including one on the subject of teaching homeland security that I’ll write about later in the week.

One article that I found very valuable in the new issue was “‘Who’s in Charge?’ New Challenges in Homeland Defense and Homeland Security,” by Lt. Col. Thomas Goss. Goss surveys efforts by DOD, DHS, and DOJ to clarify the distinction between “homeland defense” and “homeland security” and developing a means to address issues that fall at the “seam” between the two areas:

In the middle is a “seam” of ambiguity, where threats are neither clearly national security threats (requiring a military [DOD] response capability) nor clearly law enforcement threats (requiring a non-military response capability from the Department of Homeland Security [DHS], the Department of Justice [DOJ], or other agency). Along this “seam” are threats such as transnational terrorist groups who challenge the delineation of responsibility between DOD and DHS, DOJ, or other agencies, because it is difficult to label them as either a national security threat or a law enforcement threat. Determining whether a particular adversary is one or the other will depend on the circumstances at the time and who is most capable to lead the nation’s efforts. Because of the nature of this spectrum, a coordinated, integrated, and coherent national effort is essential in securing the U.S. against all threats.

Goss offers up maritime security as a prototypical “seam” issue, one where the boundary between state-centric threats and criminal threats is ambiguous and unclear. He discusses the organizational, legal, and contextual variables that determine whether DOD or DHS would be a lead agency in a given scenario, and he concludes by surveying DOD’s responsibilities within homeland defense. Overall, an interesting piece that helps to clarifythe often-fuzzy distinction between homeland security and homeland defense.

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1 Comment »


Comment by William R. Cumming

April 12, 2006 @ 1:29 am

To me the best analysis of the military role in homeland defense was done by the Arroyo Center of RAND PRIOR to 9/11. Since 9/11 internal delegations and assignment of Homeland Defense issues in DOD has wandered from SOLIC to Northcom.
It appears these guys never read the excellent reports of the Defense Science Board on defining and implementing a true HOMELAND DEFENSE. Very few serving officers are trained properly on military/civil issues starting in ROTC, the ACADEMIES, and OCS. The Department of Justice has reviewed DOD military/civil processes several times and each time has found them wanting. Still it is partly DOJ’s fault. They (DOJ) never updated and DOD never insisted they (DOJ) update Mary Lawton’s excellent document “Military Support in Civil Disturbances” (1981). Nor are civil agencies or the military briefed and trained on “Garden Plot” nor has that Plan been effectively updated. Most of the Title of the CFR concerning the ARMED FORCES and Title 32 have never been effectively updated and legally review thoroughly. This could lead to a tragedy of immense proportions and damage our representative democracy. Where for example, are the DOD regs implementing DOD’s authority under the Robert T. Stafford Act (42 U.S.C. Sections 5121 et seq) authorizing the SECDEF to act in civil situations when disaster may be “IMMINENT.” The FEMA shock absorber between DOD and the civil agencies is gone, let’s see how DHS does on this relationship. At least most of DOD’s money goes to Uniformed gun-toters and the same for DHS. Maybe the cultures won’t conflict. But I wouldn’t bet against it.

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