Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 17, 2008

Resilience Theme Dominates CAP Panel; New Report Outlines Bold HLS Strategy

Filed under: Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on April 17, 2008

P.J. Crowley, Senior Fellow and Director of Homeland Security at the Center for American Progress convened a panel discussion yesterday morning on the near-term future of HLS and the new report from P.J. and CAP, entitled “Safe at Home.”

The Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, kicked off the gathering with his own scene setter of where things are today. The discussion invoked such important topics as resiliency, HLS doctrine, the role of people in securing the homeland, and how to overcome information sharing obstacles that currently hinder overall progress.

My very first post on this blog covered a presentation by Chairman Thompson at an event at the Homeland Security Policy Institute. Then, as now, the oversight environment for DHS was contentious. Back then, the policy community was abuzz with the switch in power in the Congress. Yesterday morning’s discussion focused on how this Congressional session will finish out and how the next Presidential administration can obtain the best footing in taking leadership in securing the homeland.

Chairman Thompson intends to dedicate a series of hearings to resiliency and another solely to the topic of the transition from this administration to the next in terms of handling the transfer of DHS leadership. Thompson’s strategic goal, he said, was to achieve a secure homeland based on a “freedom from fear.”

Thompson also dropped a couple of other news items, too:

  • The Senate is expected to work up an authorization bill for the Department of Homeland Security sometime this July.
  • The HLS Committee plans to reach out to members of the presidential campaigns in their process of looking into transition issues.
  • My colleague, Dan Prieto, and former 9/11 Commission senior staffer Barbara Grewe spoke on the panel that followed, with P.J. Crowley moderating.

    P.J. opened with an incisive analysis of the state of homeland security affairs based on his new paper, Safe at Home: A National Strategy to Protect the American Homeland, the Real Central Front. That last clause is a direct criticism of those who suggest that Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism. P.J. explains that its just the best funded front: We spend twice as much on securing Iraq as we do on securing the U.S. He didn’t miss the opportunity to take issue with the term “war on terror” either.

    Dan, noting the roll-out this week of IBM’s new report on the subject, clarified the role for resilience in this domain:

    “Resiliency is defined as the ability to recover quickly from, or to resist being affected by a shock or disruption. Resiliency is a more powerful concept than simply “response and recovery” because it demands that security and commerce be treated as simultaneously achievable goals.”

    The new IBM report, Global Movement Management: Strengthening Commerce, Security, and Resilience in Today’s Networked World, provides a survey and analysis of the \ three main components of resilience: people, technology, and governance. Dan explained further that:

    “[Resilience] implies a greater level of forethought and planning ahead of time instead of simply reacting after an event. It stresses the importance of how to train people, build systems and technology and implement governance so that people are prepared on the front lines to react in the right way. It is about making sure that the right people have the right information at the right time to make the right decisions in the right way.”

    Overall, a pithy deconstruction of how our nation’s investments risk being misapplied led to a trenchant discussion of how best to trigger the next phase in securing the homeland. If he had his way, P.J. would focus far more resources on the likelier threats, such as IEDs, chem., and cyber. His report offers, among other things, the following table:

    Click to enlarge

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    1 Comment »

    Comment by William R. Cumming

    April 17, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

    Amanda Dory’s 2003 study of resilency and need to overcome former civil defense stereotypes entitled “Civil Security” and published by CSIS should not be overlooked in any discussion of this subject. One of the interesting things about her study and the President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection 1997 report is that both suggested a bottom up approach, not a top down. In particular, where no systems or technology is developed or even evented, resiliency needs to be built in from the beginning. Many legacy residual operating systems unfortunatelyn will never be capable of being made resilient. Interesting how it took four major hurricanes, and 20,000 telephone poles for the US Virgin Islands to decide to bury utilities, even when Uncle was paying for it. Some remarkable blast and heat protection studies were done under the former Federal Civil Defense Program. Interesting which companies accessed those studies, Boeing, e.g. And there was a tax credit. Why not a tax credit for resiliency of critical operating systems now? Or that’s right it might stimulate the economy.

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