Many of us have heard rumblings of an effort underway â€“ led by White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend and her deputy Joel Bagnal â€“ to revise the 2002 National Strategy for Homeland Security.Â I was able to locate a presentation deckÂ being used by Homeland Security Council officials to outline the rationale, intent, and scope of the new strategy document. Itâ€™s a cursory treatment at only 14 slides. However, some telling language reflects prevailing views amid HLS leadership about the five-year-old strategy presently on the books, as well as some useful perspectives on the nature of the threat.
The first slideâ€™s title says it all: â€œThe Need for a Revised Strategy.â€ Operating from the same strategy since 2002, the need is real and surely felt by many members in the HLS community. The original strategy was written at a time when the terrorism threat environment was different (there was no Iraq war, for one) and the bureaucracy responsible for the homeland mission was only just getting off the drawing board.
So what was really missing back in 2002? The presentation offers a short list with the suggestion that we need to â€œArticulate a capstone strategy to organize and unify the national effort.â€ Iâ€™m not sure what that means, but the next goal is indisputably important: â€œInstitute a common framework for the broader homeland security community.â€
The need for a common framework is hard to argue with. Youâ€™ll find nothing else in this presentation specifically on that topic except for the detailed graphic on the final slide depicting what may be the â€œframeworkâ€ they have in mind. This beauty is reminiscent of the structures used by the Defense Department to align their policy guidance, planning, and operations. This one even uses the term â€œdoctrine,â€ a rarity in the realm ofÂ homeland security.
Other items missing back in 2002 included, apparently, disruption and protection. The presentation justifiably takes on the very definition of homeland security put forth in the original strategy.
â€¢Homeland security is a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce Americaâ€™s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.
â€¢Homeland Security is a concerted national effort to prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks, protect against man-made and natural hazards, and respond to and recover from incidents that do occur.
Broadening the concept of homeland security is a great start.Â And while a more detailed voice track surely accompanies this presentation, some things still remain outside this scope.Â For example, a comprehensive strategy would include the concept of deterrence and how it applies in the context of terrorism.Â Perhaps prevention can encompass deterrence, but that’s a stretch.Â Â The only other possible hook on which to hang a reference to this would be on Slide 4, whichÂ states that Homeland Security entails “offense and defense.”Â It is in the latter where we may find deterrence accounted for.Â Â Quite a lot could be read into these 14 slides.Â Let’s hope that the intellectual foundation supporting these encouraging signs come to light soon.
Updated 9/27/07: I had originally noted that DHS officials were briefing this slide deck, but was informed today that it is being used by officials at the White House Homeland Security Council.Â
Update 9/27/07: UPI’s Shaun Waterman ran a related storyÂ today.