Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 9, 2007

White House Formally Issues New Strategy

Filed under: Congress and HLS,General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on October 9, 2007

Readers will recall the post we had here on September 25 introducing the presentation slides being used by White House officials to brief Congressional, State, and Local stakeholders about changes to be made to the nation’s homeland security strategy. It revealed a broadened focus that emphasized both natural disasters as a risk and offensive measures as a resource in protecting the homeland. The White House issued a statement today that describes those changes as:

Acknowledging that while we must continue to focus on the persistent and evolving terrorist threat, we also must recognize that certain non-terrorist events that reach catastrophic levels can have significant implications for homeland security.

Emphasizing that as we secure the Homeland we cannot simply rely on defensive approaches and well-planned response and recovery measures. We recognize that our efforts also must involve offense at home and abroad.

A full third of this fact sheet lists accomplishments by the Administration since 9/11 and suggests what Congress should do on secret surveillance laws, Committee jurisdictions, and grant allocations.  The entire strategy is available for download here. 


Leaving aside for the moment the question of “Why now,” the “national information management system” cited in the Strategy peaks my interest. Since there’s little on it in the document, perhaps this refers to something already underway. It may be the Interagency Incident Management Group. Readers of this blog usually have all the answers so please comment.

Other highlights include the following:

Situational Awareness & Information management
Maintaining situational awareness requires “prioritiz[ing] information and develop[ing] a common operating picture, both of which require a well-developed national information management system and effective multi-agency coordination centers to support decision-making during incidents.” The concept of situational awareness is identified as the fifth core principle of incident management and defined as

“continuous sharing, monitoring, verification, and synthesis of information to support informed decisions on how to best manage threats, potential threats, disasters, or events of concern.”

The Strategy acknowledges that while timely information is valuable, it also can be overwhelming. Situational awareness and decision-making, therefore, demands that incident information be effectively prioritized. The Strategy refers again to a “national information management system.” That system’s role is to “integrate key information and define national information requirements.” Not a bad job to have. This type of role would amount to the czar of all czars.

Cyber Security: A Special Consideration
The Strategy asserts that in order to secure the nation’s cyber infrastructure against man-made and natural threats, Federal, State, and local governments, along with the private sector, must work together to prevent damage to, and the unauthorized use and exploitation of, cyber systems.

The Secure Freight Initiative is called out specifically as a “comprehensive model for securing the global supply chain that seeks to enhance security while keeping legitimate trade flowing.” The Secure Initiative, it explains, “leverages shipper information, host country government partnerships, and trade partnerships to scan cargo containers bound for the United States.” Nothing further about the Global Trade Exchange or other phases of this Initiative can be found in the Strategy.

Interoperable and Resilient Communications
The Strategy identifies two distinct communications challenges: interoperability and survivability. Interoperability, according to the Strategy requires “compatible equipment, standard operating procedures, planning, mature governance structures, and a collaborative culture that enables all necessary parties to work together seamlessly.” Survivable communications infrastructure requires that the nation’s “communications systems [are] resilient – either able to withstand destructive forces regardless of cause or sufficiently redundant to suffer damage and remain reliable.”

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Pingback by Slowfive.Com » White House Formally Issues New Strategy

October 9, 2007 @ 11:45 am

[…] wrote an interesting post today on White House Formally Issues New StrategyHere’s a quick […]

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 9, 2007 @ 12:17 pm

Six (6) years have passed since 9/11. This document reflects the inadequate progress made towards protecting the nation. Why? (1) No specific differentiation has been made in governmental roles and specific assignments made; (2) the deterioration in the budget picture of the civil agencies has grown particularly under the current CR; (3) all the MOU’s and MOA’s (difference being unfunded in advance and unfunded in advance) have not been published for public notice and comment, nor has this strategy; (4) still a top-down command driven approach instead of building assets from the bottom up; (5) no real advance coordination between levels of government since most joint exercises are played with inadequate scenarios and never reach decontamination, re-entry levels or discuss need for permanent relocation; (5) no resolution of civil/military relationships; (6) no resolution of relationship between law enforcement and other elements of response. E.G. DOJ and its assets still not equipped or trained to deal with a contaminated environment (SCBA-Self-contained Breating Apparatus) e.g. (7) the contractor supported special teams are neither properly trained, funded, or supervised, and in some cases are in someone’s dreams only (e.g. NEST teams and infighting between DOE and DNDO of DHS); (8) no inventory of skills and equipment that could be marshalled for large-scale events; (9) no fix to chain of command issues between white house, DHS, DOD, DOJ, and Governors; (10) No publically available discussion of new 10 USC 331-334 language available to response community. Just a partial list which could include many others for example the new stovepipes created between the medical/HHS world and other responders since passage of the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Protection Act in May 2002. Most civil response orgs, including NGO’s don’t have a clue as to how the HHS/CDC public health system will respond. Few meeings and trainging sessions and most private medical personnel and facilities don’t care, or don’t want to know, or can’t find out.
Still the revised strategy reflects the fact that at least the Homeland Security Council can get out a document after coordination (or was it coordinated and between whom?)

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