One of our readers offered a healthy does of skepticism about resilience as a concept. I thought it would be valuable to make this part of a new post to follow up the recent coverage of this topic and the hearings in the House this week.
>>[Jonah does] not include concerns about response in this concept: “Turning victims into patients is important for response, but resilience is different.” Yet your guest poster, Robert Kelly, does: “That is the essence of resilience – the ability to rapidly respond to and recover from a catastrophic event.”
I see a difference between response/recovery and resilience. Being resilient should render the ability to respond effectively. However, rapidly flying in emergency food and water to a hurricane zone, for example, to limit the hardship of the victims would be response, while resilience would be building homes less vulnerable to the effects of a hurricane and getting the ports and businesses up and running. (I should note that my guests on this blog don’t have to agree with me and vice versa.)
>>And Steve Flynn includes it among his “four pillars of resilience” in his recent Foreign Affairs piece: “Second is resourcefulness, which involves skillfully managing a disaster once it unfolds…Ensuring that U.S. society is resourceful means providing adequate resources to the National Guard, the American Red Cross, public health officials, firefighters, emergency-room staffs, and other emergency planners and responders.”
It is important to take Steve’s four factors as a whole. If we selected only the third factor — rapid recovery — I could see the point that my separation of response and resilience would be problematic. However, Steve’s factors are robustness, resourcefulness, rapid recovery, and the means to absorb new lessons. Taken together, I think you’d agree that resilience is more than emergency response, but nevertheless dependant on it being executed well.
>>Unfortunately, I think the concept requires a lot of refining. But hopefully these hearings will not be the only cuts at this effort.
I, too, hope these hearings are the beginning of a sustained effort to build in, rather than bolt on, the important capability of resilience. But the concept of resilience already has been refined to a point that enables action. First steps would include making resilience a strategic goal as part of such plans as the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.
To refine this concept further, consider the following parameters: