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 nationâ€™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 todayÂ 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.Â The entire strategy is available for download here.Â
Leaving aside for the moment the question of â€œWhy now,â€ the â€œnational information management systemâ€ cited in the Strategy peaks my interest. Since thereâ€™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 â€œprioritiz[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.â€ The concept of situational awareness is identified as the fifth core principle of incident management and defined as
â€œcontinuous sharing, monitoring, verification, and synthesis of information to support informed decisions on how to best manage threats, potential threats, disasters, or events of concern.â€
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 â€œnational information management system.â€ That systemâ€™s role is to â€œintegrate key information and define national information requirements.â€ 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 nationâ€™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 â€œcomprehensive model for securing the global supply chain that seeks to enhance security while keeping legitimate trade flowing.â€ The Secure Initiative, it explains, â€œleverages shipper information, host country government partnerships, and trade partnerships to scan cargo containers bound for the United States.â€ 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 â€œcompatible equipment, standard operating procedures, planning, mature governance structures, and a collaborative culture that enables all necessary parties to work together seamlessly.â€ Survivable communications infrastructure requires that the nationâ€™s â€œcommunications systems [are] resilient â€“ either able to withstand destructive forces regardless of cause or sufficiently redundant to suffer damage and remain reliable.â€