Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 23, 2010

The reflective practitioner in homeland security

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on March 23, 2010

The reflective homeland security practitioner is someone who does daily battle in the messy world of the real, while not losing sight of what might be.

The reflective practitioner is the man or woman with the guts and skill to use power, and the contemplative patience to wait for opportunity.

The reflective practitioner in homeland security combines the insight to know what should be done, with the genius to know he or she is not the only one in the arena with insight.

The reflective practitioner is someone who knows many things, the first of which is how much more there is to learn.


On Friday, the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security — sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security — will graduate another cohort of reflective practitioners. I am posting the titles of their master’s degree theses to illustrate the range of topics covered by their reflective interest. Many of the theses — adding to what we know, think, and believe about homeland security — will be available through the NPS Dudley Knox library in a few weeks.

The Naval Postgraduate School is not the only place homeland security professionals systematically reflect on their practice. There are hundreds of other academic programs — some small, some quite large — that encourage reflection about homeland security.

One need not be a registered student to be a reflective homeland security practitioner.  Reflection also takes place in scholarship, at conferences, on blogs, and (I am informed by mostly reliable sources) in bars.

I am further informed that reflecting is bars is a long honored tradition among practitioners.

Tacitus, a Roman historian, wrote about council meetings where the participants drank massive quantities of wine, believing one could not lie very well if one were drunk. Hence the doctrine: in vino veritas.

A few years after Tacitus, another reflective practitioner, Marcus Aurelius, said “‘Wrestle to be the man philosophy wished to make you.”

The authors of the works described below each wrestled — with ideas, work pressures, family pressures, and life — to add light to the still forming world of homeland security. Their efforts hint at how much more there remains to learn.


  • Prostitution as a Possible Funding Mechanism for Terrorism
  • Interagency Modeling Atmospheric Assessment Center: Operations Framework Model
  • An Epidemiological Approach to the Radicalization Process
  • Enhancing Unity of Effort in Homeland Defense, Homeland Security and Civil Support Through Interdisciplinary Education
  • The Contribution of Police and Fire Consolidation to the Homeland Security Mission
  • Applying a Community Policing Strategy to the Aviation Domain
  • Achieving Shared Situational Awareness During Steady-State Operations in New York State: A Model for Success
  • Ensuring the Endgame: Facilitating the Use of Classified Evidence in the Prosecution of Terrorist Subjects
  • Synchronizing Federal Operational Planning for National Catastrophes
  • Homeland Security Advisory System: An Assessment of its Ability to Communicate A Risk Message
  • Are the Means of the Next Terrorist Attack Already in the Country? An Analytical Examination of Cargo Containers That Have Entered the United States
  • Validation of Rational Deterrence Theory: Analysis of U.S. Government and Adversary Risk Propensity and Relative Emphasis on Gain or Loss
  • Fusion 2.0: The Next Generation of Fusion in California: Aligning State and Regional Fusion Centers
  • Effective State, Local, and Tribal Police Intelligence: The New York City Police Department’s Intelligence Enterprise — A Smart Practice
  • Collaboration in the Metropolitan Medical Response System
  • Should Cops be Spies? Evaluating the Collection of National Security Intelligence by State, Local and Tribal Law Enforcement
  • Arizona Law Enforcement Biometrics Identification and Information Sharing Technology Framework
  • Leveraging Rural America in the Fight Against Terrorism in America through the use of Conservation Districts
  • Improbable Success: Risk Communication and the Terrorism Hazard
  • Homeland Security: The President Has No Clothes — The Case for Broader Application of Redteaming within DHS.
  • Succession Planning in Homeland Security — How Can We Ensure the Effective Transfer of Knowledge to a New Generation of Employees?
  • Leveraging Successful Collaborative Processes to Improve Performance Outcomes in Large-Scale Event Planning: Superbowl — A Planned Homeland Security Event
  • Defining the Role and Responsibility of the Fire Service within the Homeland Security Discipline
  • The Collaborative Capacity of the NYPD, FDNY and EMS in New York City: A Focus on the First Line Officer
  • Community Preparedness: Creating a Model for Change
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Comment by William R. Cumming

March 23, 2010 @ 9:01 am

Thanks for this list! Usually even the bottom of each class has useful thoughts to reflect upon.

I envy your ability to deal with fresh minds. Unfortunately, the good minds in bureacracy in DHS and FEMA seem rather subdued at the moment. A recent OIG report documents the constant shifting of plans and guidance making it impossible to understand or train up for implementation.
And of course you know that I think President Obama has now had his big one as far as a natural disaster–Haiti–where the US was slow on uptake, left early and now watches a human drama play out never seen in our lifetimes in the W. Hemisphere. I don’t take comfort that it is not S. CA or the New Madrid Earthquake region. By the way because of delays in closure on planning guidance and implementation with training–DHS has postponed for a year the NLE [National Level Exercise] scheduled for this year which would involve the NEW Madrid Earthquake zone as a scenario.


Comment by Andrew William

March 23, 2010 @ 10:21 am

Very interesting post – can’t wait for the redteaming thesis to be published. Redteaming is a very under-rated technique whose benefits seem to have been forgotten by DHS.

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