Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 25, 2007

Revised Homeland Security Strategy Underway

Filed under: DHS News,General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on September 25, 2007

Many of us have heard rumblings of an effort underway – led by White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend and her deputy Joel Bagnal – to revise the 2002 National Strategy for Homeland Security.  I was able to locate a presentation deck being used by Homeland Security Council officials to outline the rationale, intent, and scope of the new strategy document. It’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 slide’s title says it all: “The Need for a Revised Strategy.” 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 “Articulate a capstone strategy to organize and unify the national effort.” I’m not sure what that means, but the next goal is indisputably important: “Institute a common framework for the broader homeland security community.”

The need for a common framework is hard to argue with. You’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 “framework” 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 “doctrine,” a rarity in the realm of homeland security.

DHS Strategy Management System 

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.

2002 Strategy:
•Homeland security is a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.

2007 Strategy:
•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.  And while a more detailed voice track surely accompanies this presentation, some things still remain outside this scope.  For example, a comprehensive strategy would include the concept of deterrence and how it applies in the context of terrorism.  Perhaps prevention can encompass deterrence, but that’s a stretch.  The only other possible hook on which to hang a reference to this would be on Slide 4, which states that Homeland Security entails “offense and defense.”  It is in the latter where we may find deterrence accounted for.  Quite a lot could be read into these 14 slides.  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. 

Update 9/27/07: UPI’s Shaun Waterman ran a related story today.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 25, 2007 @ 8:08 am

Many have forgotten but the first Homeland Security Strategy was issued pursuant to a Congresssional mandate (The Republican Congress) and issued only reluctantly by the Advisor to the President for Homeland Security Tom Ridge later Secretary DHS. The interesting thing about the first report is it really did not mention the Congressional mandate, indicate who or how it had been prepared, who really was issuing it, and of course as always was sprung from whole cloth and not issued for public comment. Perhaps this will be the same routine again. Now that Frances Townshend has removed her name from being ever named DHS Secretary she may in the mood to really set the agenda for the next decade. Time will tell.

Comment by Jonah Czerwinski

September 25, 2007 @ 8:20 am

Another perspective on the manner in which the new strategy is created and issued is in terms of timing. Why now? I can see why we’d revise the strategy in 2005: after the first strategy runs a couple years, the Iraq war is underway, the 2004 elections are over. But now? There’ll be a new administration in about a year and it will likely opt for its own cut at a national HLS strategy. Of course, this go-around may be so spot on that the next team readily adopts it….

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 25, 2007 @ 9:18 am

Look for the Republican Administration to embed as much policy guidance or regulation as possible before January 20, 2009. I was in the Under Secretary of DHUD office at midnight helping get to the Federal Register final and proposed rules to lock in the DEMS in the transition from Ford to Carter. Just there as a technician but much of that held up. Again, in the Reagan Administration post election publication before Bush Administration (and their were tensions among the two followings mostly stemming from 1980)when documents relevant to Homeland Security now were published. For example, Executive Orders 12656 and 12657 still in effect although the first has been admended. Both issued November 18th, 1988, and oddly enough both cite to a repealed law, the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950, Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress as authority. Guess no lawyers have been reviewing EO’s since repeal of that statute in November 1994 by Public Law 103-337. One (12657)keeps the nuclear power industry going and by the way says FEMA will make up for any deficiencies in response by the states (guess Katrina does not count) and the other (12656) tries to unify the national security state and homeland security state in assigning preparedness funtions to the departments and agencies. This order replaced EO 11490 which was the first EO to really tell the departments and agencies that they all had a role in EM and HS although a plan issued by the former OEP in 1964 approved by Presidnt Johnson attempted the same. By the way that 1964 response plan was the last federal plan approved by a President. Noticeably neither of those EOs cited the Robert T. Stafford Emergency Assistance and Distaster Relief Act (Public Law 100-707 amending in part and replacing in part, and supplementing in part the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, Public Law 93-234. The Stafford Act became law November 22, 1988, 5 days after the EO were issued. The complete capture of that statute by the National Security state is almost complete. Note the number of DOD supplementals that piggy-backed domestic disaster relief supplemental.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 28, 2007 @ 8:59 am

A final thought. Most levels of government assume that they can reorganize to deal with crisis incidents/events and thus don’t really address 24/7 operations and how they can be accomplished. Even DOD often changes its plans and organizations to deal with large-scale domestic events as evidenced by a new report issued by RAND. Question, is there any suggestion in any of the documents issued by DHS/FEMA that perhaps delays inherent in organizing for fast breaking events might not cut it in certain emergencies? In other words, as required by 10 CFR Part 50 Appendix E for nuclear power plants, the existing capability must be verified on a continuous basis. Of course neither NRC or FEMA under its MOU does this but still the regulation requires it by use of the word “VERIFY.” We’re talking life saving here so the standards should be at the very highest level. Again no amatuers allowed.

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