In his comments on the PSD-1 Review, Randy Beardsworth, one of the study’s co-chairs, notes that implementation of the recommendations will, “expand the spectrum (of the White House security staff) from global to local.”
Global knows its way around the West Wing and the old State, War, and Navy Department offices next door. Local security — despite delegations of sheriffs, police chiefs, and firefighters arriving for photo ops — not so much.
Creating the Resilience Policy Directorate, Beardsworth says, may be the “most significant aspect of the reorganization.” The RPD is conceived as the policy shop through which local priorities, impediments, needs, and strengths can have direct and early influence on shaping and executing global security.
A slide displayed during the HSPI forum listed the following functions as belonging to the Resilience Policy portfolio:
- Domestic Critical Infrastructure Protection
- Planning Policy and Coordination
- All Hazards Preparedness and Grant Policy
- All Hazards Medical Preparedness
- Domestic Incident Management and Response Coordination
- Short-term Recovery Policy and Coordination
- Homeland Security Professional Development
- National Exercise Program
Depending on how these functions are framed, this is either an enlargement of something familiar, say, emergency management on steroids. Or this is the opportunity to think anew about the nexus of local and global risk-readiness. Beardsworth commented that the reorganization creates spaces and places for engaging new possibilities.
Since Saturday reader comments (and here) have ranged from skeptical to expansive. There is a shared recognition that “resilience” is not well-defined. The lack of mature definition could result in resiliency becoming, as one reader writes, “just another buzz word.”
I agree this is possible. Especially if state, local, tribal and private-sector stakeholders do not seize the present opportunity.
It is always tough, in the White House or the neighborhood fire station, to effectively engage both urgent and important. But defining the scope and purpose of the Resilience Policy Directorate is important (do I really need to make this case?) and urgent. A de facto definition will emerge in the next 100 days or so. If our first responders don’t respond quickly — and strategically — to this alarm, a similar opportunity will not happen until after the next catastrophe — or presidential election.
The PSD-1 Review has identified Resilience as one of a dozen “essential portfolios” for a new national security architecture. Here’s their list:
- US Border
It is, I suggest and hope, meaningful that in this list of places, functions, and states-of-being that resilience is the only word that describes a broadly positive outcome. Maybe Non-proliferation comes close, but like Counterterrorism it is focused on stopping something bad.
Resilience can — I am arguing, should — be the cultivation of an innate condition. The word is derived from the Latin — resilire — meaning to leap back, gush forth, and spring forward. To be resilient is to be active, energetic, engaged, able and ready to stretch ourselves, test ourselves, self-correct, and rapidly recover. Resilience is not about responding to threats, it’s about embracing our full potential.
We should leap at the chance.