Over the weekend a few stalwarts of homeland security noticed they were regularly referencing the same written documents. A quick inventory found that the nine of them shared five core documents:
Forging a New Shield: The report of the Project on National Security Reform proposes a fundamental shift in how we think about and organize our national security system. Some vigorously disagree with the PNSR, but all respect the thinking and intent.
Safe at Home: P.J. Crowley’s suggestions for reform of the Homeland Security system. Whether they liked it or not, everyone agreed this document – and P.J. – would be influential with the new administration.
Protecting Americans in the 21st Century: The National Homeland Security Consortium’s White Paper on reforming federal relations with non-federal partners. There was uniform amazement that so many organizations could even agree on a title, much less substantive content.
The 9/11 Commission Report was a sort of secular old testament for those around the table. One participant argued not old testament, but King Lear or Macbeth.
Because one of them had brought along copies of the new Markle Foundation report Nation at Risk they were all familiar with this proposal for improved information sharing.
All but two of the nine were intimate with DOD Joint Doctrine for Homeland Defense and all seven of those said to be on the look-out for the new Army Field Manual 3-28 on Civil Support Operations. Some HSPDs, the National Response Framework, and other artifacts of official guidance were claimed by six of the nine.
Sharing documents faciliates discussion and sharpens points of disagreement. Because the discussants share these documents they could use conceptual and explanatory short-cuts with each other.
But the nine – by the end of the weekend they called themselves the “supremes” – also noticed that the documents lacked a shared vision or common strategy. Most of the documents recommended important operational reforms, but reforms toward what end? The nine’s discussion had also reflected this absence, this lack of positive and explicit purpose.
Several suggested that Steve Flynn’s work on resilience might fill-the-gap. One pulled up the White House webpage on homeland security. Most agreed the preamble to the Constitution was a good beginning, but the implications for homeland security need strengthening and elaboration.
A retired military man offered, “Got my tactics down. Constantly improving my operational capacity. Even have some pretty solid strategies. I just don’t have any way to define victory.”