Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 27, 2010

Making sense of homeland security

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 27, 2010

I am fortunate this week to spend a few days talking with state, local and federal public safety and military colleagues who are working on tasks Steven Covey would call “Important, but not Urgent.”

The mainstream homeland security enterprise is flowing along its multiple tributaries, working on important and urgent matters. Throughout the country, in meetings, workshops, conferences and the like, there are serious, thoughtful and dedicated people — similar to the ones I’m working with — looking at the pieces of the enterprise, trying to make things better.

Here are some of the issues the people I’m with are considering:

  • Multiple methods for doing hazard vulnerability; trying to figure out why jurisdictions are not standardizing on one or several ways to do such an analysis; and why few jurisdictions seem to care.
  • Can the Department of Defense actually create partnerships for civil support?
  • How to reduce threats to the nation’s highway system, and why was the Highway Watch program canceled?
  • How to get serious about the threat of chemical terrorism.
  • How to make federal homeland security-related agencies (not just DHS) incubators for creative action.
  • Developing a working definition of homeland security a state can use to develop coherent multi-agency strategies and policies.
  • How to rapidly detect and respond intelligently to threats to the nation’s food supply.
  • What to do about Special Interest Aliens who enter the country illegally.
  • How agencies can get better at crisis communication.
  • Developing more effective organizational arrangements for multi-agency coordination during a significant incident.
  • Reducing the likelihood air cargo will be a tool of terror.
  • Coordinating state and local law enforcement efforts to identify and protect critical infrastructure.
  • How to standardize and deliver multi-disciplinary preparedness training and education within a state.
  • Making more effective use of National Guard assets in homeland security.
  • Integrating training for military and civilian disaster responders.
  • Building effective working relationships between public safety agencies and civil support teams.
  • Leveraging technology to increase public engagement with emergency management.
  • Developing and sustaining incident management teams.
  • Getting access to federal military reserve forces during a catastrophe.
  • The implications of the shift from nation states to market states for counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism. (Well, someone has to think about that.)

Some of the problems and issues in the list are relatively “tame,” and can be addressed through solid research. Other problems are “wicked;” they resist precise formulation and resolutions.

How does one know which is which?

David Snowden offers, in an 8 minute video made available last week (and posted below), a useful way to think about this “sensemaking” activity. It’s one of the more conceptually expanding talks I’ve seen in awhile.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

July 27, 2010 @ 1:13 am

Great list, great post, and I am sure a great video. Much of the list struggles with the paradigm of leveraging STATE and LOCAL resources. IN the current fiscal climate that is getting to be really tough.
My solution would be to assist directly with up to 25% of the entire public safety budget from federal resources. One less -F-22 and/or F-35. All disasters may be local but not all resources are local.
Again renaming the department the Department of Civil Security might help the paradigm. Why does the militarization of STATE and LOCAL law enforcement continue apace? There are less than 10,000 Emergency Managers at State and Local level! Is that adquate? Could the 2.2M large Fire Service pull more weight given its resources? And DOD looks like getting to reject another 100K civilian employees. How many will transfer to DHS? Why do all the National Strategies now being generated almost never refer to the others? Stovepipes not just in the Civil Service but in contractor assisted studies? Why after almost 9 years after 9/11/01 does no one know who will actually show up, what their training, resources and logistics systems will be and the chain of command–military or civil–of there is an actual WMD incident/event? n 0

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 27, 2010 @ 5:55 am

Chris! Did watch the video twice. Very interesting and seems sound analytics. Of course since Wales is the source of at least part of this mongrel’s bloodlines easy to understand. Yes complex and complicated seems where it is all at in HS/EM.
One of the things that always fascinated me about Washington and its turnings and twistings was that decisions that seemed to be so carefully made and sound often turned out to have secondary and tertiary impacts that completely undermined the original decision. Smart people in various positions of power in DC and government know this and sometimes they become frozen in place and unable to become decisionmakers. Sometimes decisions have to be made despite our failure to understand fully their implications. My understanding for EM is focus focus focus on leveraging and helping the STATE and LOCAL governments become part of a national system of resilience, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery. Some want to but seem frozen in place and unable to decide if that is a good or bad thing to happen. My starting point for the STATES would be to reduce the number of local governmental units (over 90,000) and concentrate on sue or be sued entities and those with authority to tax. As far as local governments, they need to understand that their decisionmaking can destroy lives and property as fast as any drunkard. The financing and operation of local government in its most basic activity meaning schools and public safety (EM, police, fire, public health) needs much more thorough analysis and understanding. The real property tax is dead and is now killing local government. The top 500 metropolitan areas are the drive sprocket for much of the economy both political and economic and much more effort needs to be focused on those top 500 including how well they are governed and their future operations and whether in some cases they should be allowed to expand.
AS to Homeland Security again as always it focus should be WMD, cyber security and INTEL (domestic) and it needs badly to shed those day jobs that don’t fit into this paradigm. This may even mean shrinkage with TSA going back to DOT and programs like the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) going elsewhere in the government. And of course DHS needs badly to figure out, develop and implement a sound civil domestic crisis management system and chain of command. This is all complicated and complex.
It does seem that cause and effect has burdened the WEST with certain habits of decision-making that can only be described as self-destructive.

Comment by Mark Chubb

July 27, 2010 @ 9:26 am

Love the model; can’t pronounce the name. Echoes many of the themes that constantly filter through my mind as I gaze across the landscape that is our common field of endeavor. Thanks for sharing this incredibly concise and insightful clip.

Comment by Kirk Marlowe

July 27, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

Great model; it draws attention to the importance of understanding the relationships among the various domain elements. As I read the list and subsequent comments, I offer the following perspective from my small corner of the world:

Although well intended for the greater good, the term “leverage” carries a command and control connotation; and while there is a place for such, the very concept appears to further deteriorate the relationship between federal, state, and local governments. Nevertheless, the paradigm of leveraging state and local resources implies value can be added from their contributions, but little is done to develop the trustful relationships needed to commit the resources on a grand scale. Instead, grants and contracts pave the way for leveraged (muscled) control.

While we appear to be very good at developing the mechanics and metrics to reach the desired outcome, we fall short of understanding what is at the core. As such, we find ourselves asking the question, “Why after almost 9 years after 9/11/01 does no one know who will actually show up, what their training, resources and logistics systems will be and the chain of command–military or civil–of there is an actual WMD incident/event?” Why? Because, despite all of the coordination, planning, and strategy development, there is an absence of trust; words and actions are rarely consistent. While I marvel at the many intelligent people, who offer truly wonderful ideas, I am reminded daily that it really boils down to leadership, of which trust is at the core. Absent trust, even the best strategies/plans will struggle to survive.

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 27, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

Wonderful comment by Kirk. Leadership is uniting to me not dividing. What are the incentives for the political, MSM, and economic leadership to be so divisive?

Comment by Dan O'Connor

July 27, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

Self Interests;

Any time self interest becomes the primary motivation to initiate action there is no leading; there is ego centric self importance. Leadership universally is never about the leader; it’s about the lead. To lead should be seen as a privilege, not a right or position.

It should not be seen as idealistic or that of a rube to see trust and loyalty as the necessary intangibles that glue together resources, talent, and intellect.

When all else fails and there are no answers or resources, we’ll require innovative, emergent, dynamic, and selfless leaders.

Comment by First response and Beltway Charade

July 28, 2010 @ 6:20 am

The demise of our beloved Republic, it certain destiny, its spiral into only a memory compared with the great German led EU revival, its fast deployment Army…the failure of our great society, the lack of real leadership and as a reslt of greed, self-indulgence and a self-serving agenda by those “entrusted” to serve public service!

Let’s look at Kerry and his $7million yacht or his Wife’s yacht he readily points out….Take a moment and look at his voting record. A terrific piece of news, Kerry will not seek another term!

What a charade this is and here we sit in the 21st century and I cannot go out in my yard to cut my grass and must hire another for fear that if I need 911, because of the ineptness of local governing officials having no idea how to manage a budget, 911 response may be delayed and mutual aid may be delayed….

It is tiem for federal officials to fund local services for despite all the partisan beltway hogwash, we will face a double dip and more and folks will have more uncertainty and local services may not be at the doorstep with stretcher on time…and guess what, “elected” folks don’t care as long as it does not affect them…

Game over! We have lost….America: An enslaved populace to Goldman Sachs et al and a third world nation!

Leave it to the Germans once again for they in their ambition to seek power broker status in the Middle East will be sure to escalate and further destabilize the Middle East with much support again by the Vatican as German needs oil to lubricate its manufacturing machine and let’s face it, far less tolerant of Muslims in its neigborhoods with a downsized (10 nation) EU to serve the Muslims a “get out of town” dictate and a zero tolerance for any social upheaval on its streets.

Certainly the EU and the “Brutes of Tehran” will clash heads and the fall of Egypt and Turkey into Muslim leadership control will cause more upheaval among nations as we here in America, a mighty power brought to it knees by its own incestuous and obnoxious partisan Congressional delegation with an unwillingness to take the reigns and lead a charge against all that is wrong..well, at least Kerry and his Wife will pay the MA/DOR the State taxes both these illustrious folks owe to the constituency here in Massachusetts who were so foolhearty to elect this guy to the Senate in the first place –

God Bless America and as importantly – thank you to our police, fire and EMT’s nationwide who each and everyday, despite all the politics locally, at state and state level, place themselves and their family in harm’s way to do their best to serve!

Joe Citizen

aka Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645 USA

Comment by Peter Brown

July 28, 2010 @ 10:38 am

What about the weapons that went missing recently from the Israeli prime minister’s security detail while that detail was in transit in the U.S. and while that detail was flying / moving within TSA envelope? You might add this one to your list.

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August 4, 2010 @ 12:02 am

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August 4, 2010 @ 2:11 am

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August 5, 2010 @ 12:56 am

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Comment by 66

August 5, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

Standardization results in abundance. The Ford Model T was $950 in 1909 and 15 years later a better Model T was $290. Ford factory wages were higher as a result. Today we are facing shortages, inflated prices and it takes a subsidy to build an automobile at a loss. Common sense isn’t all that common. Most people are conditioned to live with shortages and that is who the journalists write for and now journalism is dealing with shortages as newspapers and magazines fold. Lowering the price never occurred to them. You could buy Newsweek for $1, so it could be worth more.

Comment by Leoma Delonais

August 6, 2010 @ 12:20 am

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