Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 14, 2009

Mike McDaniel to DOD-Homeland Defense

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Homeland Defense — by Philip J. Palin on July 14, 2009

The Associated Press is reporting, “Brigadier General Michael McDaniel will begin work Aug. 3 as deputy assistant secretary of homeland defense… The 52-year-old East Lansing resident has been in the Michigan National Guard since 1985.”

When I heard the rumor last week I sent Mike a congratulatory note.  When he did not respond, I took that as tacit confirmation.  But now it is public.

Mike has served as the Michigan Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor since 2003.  A general, a lawyer, and someone who has given significant attention to critical infrastructure, Mike is — at least — a triple threat.   His long service at the state level combined with his military background will be of particular value in this new role.

Being familiar with  both Paul Stockton, Assistant Secretary of Defense (Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs), and Mike McDaniel, this strikes me as a great team.  Mike has experiences, skills, and perspectives to complement Paul’s.  And they have known each other sufficiently well that, I expect, they are each entirely aware of what they have in the other.

The State and local emphasis that each man brings to this DOD office could be especially interesting to watch in action.  This also seems a sort of “tacit confirmation” for a rumor I have been hearing regarding what the White House office of personnel is looking for in HS appointments. 

Please see Mike McDaniel’s Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs  official biography.

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Comment by Arnold Bogis

July 14, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

If you are willing to use the term “tacit confirmation” of a rumor, perhaps you might be willing to expand on that rumor beyond what I imagine is a focus on officials who understand or have a feeling for non-federal levels of government vis-a-vis homeland security.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

July 14, 2009 @ 8:01 pm

I should have added “please” to my last comment…

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 15, 2009 @ 4:46 am

I understand your concern and emphasis and hope of the WH being concerned about federalism issues which do seem to be “On the Ropes” as the boxing world uses the terms. But what I find very interesting about the selection of Stockton and McDaniel is that these two have a very fundamental understanding of military/civil relationships and their consequences for our democracy (republic)! This could be a powerhouse to weigh in on sensitive issues that I think GATES by trial and tribulation has some knowledge and experience with. What does concern me is exactly who in DHS has equivalent knowledge and competence with military/civil issues and sensitivities and beyond that with what I am calling the “crisis” in federalism precipitated by 9/11 and now the economic crisis? Hoping as always for the best and the brightest meaning those truly competent without ego and hubris and worry for the next job or making money off of government position. Perhaps too much to ask. By the way why exactly do all these flag ranks seem to need second careers?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 15, 2009 @ 5:08 am


Thanks for the question — please or not. The rumor is not sufficiently confirmed for me to be more than coy on the front page, but I use a different standard in the comments.

What I am being told by usually credible folks — and what I seem to see — is a pretty consistent bias toward three criteria in recruiting HS leadership into this administration:

1. Significant operational experience.
2. Significant state/local/tribal experience and/or strong stance in favor of state/local/tribal leadership.
3. Evidence of strong analytical and writing skills, with a bias toward graduate degrees and,especially, law degrees.

The aristocracy of the robe is flourishing in this administration, and as far as I can tell this is, so far, a good thing.

Another rumor that I am hearing,and which I am trying to confirm with authoritative on-the-record answers to my questions,is a movement across homeland security — and especially within FEMA — to roll-back expectations of federal responsibility for immediate disaster response. For both practical and constitutional reasons I would be very supportive of such a roll-back, so maybe I am just seeing what I want to see. But this does seem to be an increasingly explicit policy of this administration… and clearly related to recruiting federal officials who are able to communicate and work effectively with state/local/tribal leaders.

Even though I am strongly in favor, changing expectations of the federal role will also be a tough policy to actually implement… especially in a period when local/state/tribal budgets are so hard-hit. And if a terrorist or natural disaster hits hard early in the roll-back process, all bets are off.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 15, 2009 @ 5:22 am


I was writing Arnold while you were posting. Your crisis in federalism is, I think, exactly right. With the rare exception, I do not perceive the crisis is caused so much by federal over-reaching as by State neglect. But the outcome — especially long-term — is likely to be the same.

In regard to civil-military expertise at DHS, in my experience there has been an unfortunate tendency for many (not all) DHS officials with a military pedigree to view State/local/tribal officials as barely competent bureaucrats of an occupied recent adversary. From time to time, I have asked such folks,”If you were assigned to NATO and had to work with German civil authorities would you treat them this way?” They will often admit they had never really seen state/local/tribal as peers.

So… you see why I want to believe this administration is trying to restore some balance to the federal compact.

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 15, 2009 @ 8:39 am

Well I typed a long response to this comment of Phil’s with which I strongly agree. Now in summary–the following:
First, without much thinking about whether for good or bad DHS is becoming a second career agency for the Uniformed services. Is this good or bad? Should be studied.
Second, the crisis of federalism is not just about money. It is a factor but the bottom line for me on Preparedness and Resiliency is thinking not money.
Third, the 2.2 million Fire Service personnel, and the additonal Public Safety and Public Health types need to be leveraged and it is interesting most federal grants on focused on “What do they need?” as opposed to ” What do they want and do they understand why the feds give them any funding?” Remember many of these folks are not subject to any federal standards and anomolies keep occuring. Two Thirds (2/3) of the Fire Service still have no SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) much less SCBA for a CBRNE environment. So plenty of work to be done.

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