Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 15, 2010

Resilience: How much can we absorb?

The President took some hits for a comment Bob Woodward included in his most recent first draft of history. On page 363 of Obama’s Wars we read:

During my Oval Office interview with the President, Obama volunteers some extended thoughts about terrorism.

“I said very early on, as a Senator and continue to believe, as a presidential candidate and now as president, that we can absorb a terrorist attack. We will do everything we can to prevent it. but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever, that ever took place on our soil, we absorbed it, and we are stronger. This is a strong, powerful country that we live in, and our people are incredibly resilient.”

Then he addressed his big concern. “A potential game changer would be a nuclear weapon in the hands of terrorists, blowing up a major American city. Or a weapon of mass destruction in a major American city. and so when I go down on the list of things I have to worry about all the time, that is at the top, because that’s one area where you can’t afford any mistakes. And so right away, coming in, we said, how are we going to start ramping up and putting that at the center of a lot of our national security discussion? Making sure that that occurrence, even if remote, never happens.”

The partisan tit-for-tat regarding this comment was mostly about casting and cleaning red herrings.  With that behind us (I hope), what is the President telling us about his view of resilience?

The unstated implication — and principal source of the fishy critiques — is that there will be another successful terrorist attack on the United States.  We have already seen the Ft. Hood shootings and the fizzled Times Square bombing.  Other attacks are undoubtedly being planned.  The Taliban-in-Pakistan has specifically threatened an “amazing” attack on Washington D.C. 

It is realistic rather than fatalistic to recognize there will be another successful attack. Responding to several surveys over the years the vast majority of Americans (usually more than 80 percent) say they expect a terrorist attack. In the first half of 2010 a survey by  the Pew Center for People and the Press found that 58 percent of respondents expect a terrorist attack using a nuclear weapon.

Experts disagree on the scope and scale of future terrorist attacks on the United States.  In September the Bipartisan Policy Center provided the following assessment:

Despite al-Qaeda’s long interest in acquiring chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons, on the infrequent occasions that it or its affiliates have tried to deploy crude versions of these weapons their efforts have fizzled, as was evident in the largely ineffectual campaign of chlorine bomb attacks by “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” in 2007. Militant jihadist groups will be able to deploy only crude chemical, biological, or radiologicalweapons for the foreseeable future, and these will not be true “weapons of mass destruction,” but rather weapons of mass disruption, whose principal effect will be panic but likely few deaths.

In contrast the Commission on Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction has argued:

  • First, there is direct evidence that terrorists are trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
  • Second, acquiring WMD fits the tactical profile of terrorists. They understand the unique vulnerability of first-world countries to asymmetric weapons—weapons that have a far greater destructive impact than the power it takes to acquire and deploy them. The airplanes that al Qaeda flew into the World Trade Center were asymmetric weapons.
  • Third, terrorists have demonstrated global reach and the organizational sophistication to obtain and use WMD. As recent actions by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula demonstrate, the al Qaedanetwork is expanding through international partnerships. In particular, it is well within their present capabilities to develop and use bioweapons. As the Commission’s report, World at Risk, found, if al Qaeda recruits skilled bioscientists, it will acquire the capability to develop and use biological weapons.
  • Fourth, the opportunity to acquire and use such weapons is growing exponentially because of the global proliferation of nuclear material and biological technologies.

The President shares the expectations of most Americans regarding the likelihood of a successful terrorist attack.   While he considers the probability of a nuclear attack to be “remote,” he has given considerable attention to preventing such an attack.  During the campaign he gave a major speech on the topic that clearly set the stage for key elements of the National Security Strategy. A series of administration actions since the inauguration follow-through on what was outlined in the July 2008 speech.

In terms of resilience the President evidently makes a distinction between attacks that the nation can “absorb” and an attack that would be a “game changer.”  While it goes beyond his specific statement, the logic seems to be there is a fairly high threshold up to which the nation will bounce back.   This threshold is at least as high as the 9/11 attacks. 

But the President assumes there are some attacks that would produce a fundamental shift in the national game plan or even the national game.   He specifically calls out, “blowing up a major American city” with a nuclear device.   He seems to suggest that such an attack would ipso facto prevent a bounce back.

I wonder. 

National resilience — especially in such a rich, large and populous nation as the United States — is as much a psycho-social-political response as anything else.  Certainly a 10K blast in any major city and especially in Washington D.C. would severely test our resilience.  Would it necessarily break it? 

The fact that a significant majority of Americans already expect such an attack increases our potential resilience.  The facts on the ground may also redound to our potential resilience.  In a 2009 essay in Homeland Security Affairs Journal, Robert Harney writes,

Contrary to the predictions of traditional analysis and experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the more “realistic” analysis presents a picture that is much less dire. Fatalities are 20% of those predicted by the standard analysis, while injuries are 10% of those predicted and the damaged area is 5%. Much of the infrastructure will survive. Most evacuation routes will remain viable (permitting relocation for fallout mitigation). Food, water, sanitation, power,communications, and transportation will remain available to most of the city.
Transportation to or from the rest of the country, especially air travel, is likely to be minimally affected. Airports are seldom located in the high population density areas that are attractive for casualty production. The first response system will remain intact. At most one or two police precincts and fire stations will be within damage zones. Only a small fraction of first responders will be among the casualties. The majority of the health care system will remain intact. Few hospitals, clinics, or potential shelter areas may be located within the small damage zones and thus will remain intact and operational. Few health care professionals will become casualties. Regional health care facilities (an estimated 60,000-70,000 beds at three beds/1000 people) have the theoretical capacity to handle the most badly injured. However, most of the 60,000-70,000 beds are occupied during ordinary times and emergency rooms are almost always crowded. Diagnostics and elective procedures account for at least part of the occupation of beds and many emergency room visits occur in lieu of seeing primary care physicians. In a major emergency, many could be discharged by applying triage to those already at the facilities as well as to the victims of the explosion. Nevertheless, emergency treatment facilities will be stressed. This should be considered during planning for disaster preparedness, as well as in any discussions of generally improving national health care.
Although horrific and highly stressing of existing resources, this scenario is nearly ideal for disaster response and relief by local, state, and national entities. Because structures and roads will be undamaged outside the immediate blast area, the effects of fallout from a single nuclear event can be minimized through immediate and effective response including fallout prediction and a combination of evacuation, sheltering in place and/or decontamination. Sheltering for as little as one day can reduce the fallout exposure to less than 20% of the maximum possible accumulated exposure at any location, even if the individual then elects to remain in the contaminated area. It can reduce the total exposure to less than 1% of the maximum possible if the individual elects to walk out of the fallout zone (estimated to take a few hours at most). There is a place for renewed interest in civil defense.

Harney starts his essay with, “The unthinkable is probably inevitable.”  But 58 percent of Americans are already thinking about it.  What is the resilience potential if we would forthrightly and specifically deal with a range of catastrophic possibilities? 

The San Andreas fault will shift (a recent study says it will be even worse than previously projected), so will the New Madrid fault.   Each will produce consequences far beyond the scope and scale of an improvised nuclear device.  A Cat-5 hurricane will pummel a major city.  An urban wildfire will jump the lines with frightening death, injury, and destruction.  A pandemic will emerge with all the surprise of H1N1 and thirty-times the punch.

Terrorism is not the only — or most likely — source of catastrophe.  But expecting the worst mitigates its impact.  Preparing for the worst is even more effective. We should certainly invest in prevention.  But in one form or another we will be catastrophically challenged. I perceive that if we would creatively engage this reality, the nation is even more resilient than the President may imagine.

For further consideration:

The Little BIG Things (Resilience Chapter) by Tom Peters

Building Resilient Communities: A Preliminary Framework for Assessment by Longstaff, Armstrong, Perrin, Parker, and Hidek

A quide for implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action by local stakeholders (UNISDR and Kyoto University)

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Comment by Arnold Bogis

October 15, 2010 @ 12:54 am

I applaud the need to plan for the worst and in general believe in this nation’s resilience (the social aspect anyway, perhaps not so much the critical infrastructure). I agree that the worst earthquake may cause greater damage than a nuclear attack. Where I disagree is your interpretation of Obama’s “game changer” comment.

I think the reaction to terrorist event differs from natural or even technological catastrophes. Consider our response following 9/11. And then consider how far the pendulum has swung recently towards overreaction following failed attacks. A nuclear attack will fall completely outside what people can imagine is possible by terrorists–despite the poll results, this will be vivid and not a concept they have heard about. The reaction will be swift–those not calling to nuke every country we don’t like because they MUST have supplied the weapon (fill in your favorite villain here____Iran, China, Russia, North Korea…) will demand that another attack be prevented at ALL costs. You worried about your email being read before…

And the security structure in this country will respond to this call to prevent another nuclear attack. For those who thought they believed in the threat will be shocked by the destructive power achieved by non-state actors. Other countries will do the same, because even those that have had long experiences with terrorist attacks (UK, France, Israel, etc) will be stunned by level of destruction they believe only achievable by nation states.

Even if the bomb “fizzles” and only produces a 1kt or smaller blast, the fact that they almost were successful would be a success (putting aside the enormous loss of life from even such a “small” nuclear explosion). The mushroom cloud would be the game changer.

Would we survive as a nation? Absolutely. Could we recover? It will take some time, but yes. But would we recognize the type of society under which we lived? I hope so, but I’m not so sure.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 15, 2010 @ 3:29 am

Arnold, I think we are back to dealing with Mark’s issue of expectations. Because we expect natural disasters we tend to react with less fear to a hurricane or earthquake than to the lesser consequences of an intentional act. There is something in an intentional act that can prompt a very different reaction.

If an Improvised Nuclear Device was detonated in the United States today I expect your description of our response would be accurate. It would be, in the President’s words, a game changer. You do not specify the type of society you expect would emerge from such an event. I expect it would offer an even more intrusive array of official security and expensive display of security theater. I expect our social, political, and economic openness would be constrained in an effort to prevent another such horrific event. I also perceive that such a reaction would, paradoxically, undermine our substantive resilience and our long-term national security.

This “predictable surprise” and its predictable response is something we can, however, do something about. We can adjust our expectations. As posts and comments here and elsewhere constantly suggest, there is an important role for public education and, as you wrote yesterday, public engagement. Especially in regard to nuclear terrorism, the surveys indicate we have a population ready-to-learn. In the partisan response that President Obama’s comments generated we can understand official hesitance. But that need not discourage the rest of us.

What would an effective, expectation-shifting program of public education and public engagement look like?

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 15, 2010 @ 4:29 am

Well an interesting post and comments. First, whatever the inevitability of naturally occurring events even those bordering on risks somewhat uncalculable except in geologic time, the WMD issue has now been addressed repeatedly by Presidents and Commissions since the Congressional findings adopted as part of the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996, Title XIV of the Defense Authorization for that year. Senator Sam Nunn was the leader behind that legislation and his Nuclear Threat Initiative is an interesting effort by a skilled former Senator.

The Harney article prompted a lengthy response in the form of a letter to the editor of the HSJ and should always be paired with the article to give another perspective.

The British government continues to focus on Bioterror as the favorite weapon for the future by non-state actors. They feel that the RDD event, even though worrisome, or the stolen nuclear device is a contained threat and well understood. In this country however, the administrative appartus and apparatckis [sic] have worried and fretted but not accomplished a whole lot if GAO reports can be believed whether in the civil agencies or DOD and its minions.
I have a completely different concern. The geographic entity known as the US surely will survive a long time and may even expand its jurisdiction. But the nature of our current government is disastrously infirm. What is my measuring stick? The ability to reform and reconstitute our governmental units is largely unknown to the public which is not as it should be in a democracy (Republic)! The best book on COG/COOP ever written was Professor Paul Bracken of Yale University’s work entitled “Command and Control” [1982] because of its parallels to the issues raised by the nuclear offensive chain of command in the US to the preservation of the President as Commander-In-Chief and his/her capability to give an appropriate retalitory order.

Well all very complex and worthy of the best thinking our country can generate whatever the source. Personally I think the DAY AFTER exercise of a few years ago generated some new thinking and perhaps some new resolve to deal with these issues. Some of the players are now policy makers in the Executive Branch. But if progress has been made it has largely been kept secret from the public. Thus once again we have to place our faith in our government based on little real information and my guess is little real progress has been made. I reach that conclusion because the most recent WMD Commission effort largely focused on the Bioterror threat concluded the same.
AS readers of this blog and my comments know I rate WMD defense and response and recovery the Numero Uno mission of DHS. But the various components that deal with WMD in any kind of significant program, function, or activity are almost unknown in this opaque organizational structure. The technical capabilities of DHS are also totally unknown. The numbers and training of personnel. Nuclear safeguard and safety issues were the last several demonstrated in the USAF to be about the same as those in the Balkans. Also not comforting to learn. NRC is voted by survey one of the best place to work in the FEDERAL WORKFORCE yet could that be that they draw salaries but still have no clue about emergency response. The off-site portion assigned to an underfunded understaffed FEMA unit largely existing on user fees from the industry still does not even have a certified health physicist on its staff. That is the speciality dealing with the impacts of ionizing radiation on the human body. And as noted in a recent comment the effective RADEF program eliminated by President Clinton and his FEMA Director James Lee Witt has never been restored. There was an interesting time when one policy fight in FEMA was over the level of dosimetry available to the citizenry of the US. Now the fights are of what NOT to do which ususally exceeds the TO DO list. How many people in DHS and FEMA focus in their daily efforts on WMD issues, or in the civil agencies or DOD? A simple question and probably all would be shocked at the answer. So it is another question never asked by those in a position to give oversight. GAO tries to identify the level of capability but in fact can only skim the surface. I do know that much of the real radiological knowledge in the country is passing with the end of the greatest generation and not being replaced.

As to bioterror and bioscience it is clear that most of the efforts in the US are transmission and historical preservation not the cutting edge that certain other countries are supporting.

Well the big happy puppy that is the US no cares and no worries seems more than willing to walk on the yellow line between heavy streams of traffic hoping for the best. We don’t have many serious people in government anymore, serious about more than their personal wealth and next jobs. So perhaps our expectations should be reduced as to what happens if a large-scale unplanned or accidental WMD event or incident occurs. If I had to pick an agency on the frontline of WMD issues that has almost no clue I would put EPA first in line because they are regulators largely and most of the regulated have no interest in providing security to the public or worry about the general welfare and public health of the citizenry.

And just to take a shot at the system, if all the money devoted annually to hokey water projects by the USACOE to Public Health we (US) would be much more resilient. Let’s develop a resilience overlay to test all federal programs, functions, and activities. Or that’s right the most money ever spent on resilience in the US was for restoring WALL STREET to its former glory.
A wrong bet in my opinion led only by the corruption by WALL STREET of the political leadership and their own leadership. Well the Longships are arriving off the coast just not quite as recognizable in their current shape.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 15, 2010 @ 4:50 am

Arnold and Bill, before this discussion focuses entirely on WMD, I will add and emphasize that I perceive public education and public engagement should focus on a full range of catastrophic possibilities and should be focused on a reasonable regional risk assessment. A national campaign would be too generic to do much good. So… there’s one suggested criterion for such an effort, it should be conceived and executed to reflect specific regional risks.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 15, 2010 @ 5:13 am

If the Chenoybl core-melt accident was overlayed on NYC the area from Boston to Washington, DC would have been contaminated for the following 500 years. Is that a regional or national level event in your opinion?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 15, 2010 @ 5:23 am

Bill, your scenario is global, national, regional, and local in scope. Having a regional focus would not obviate shared risks, but it would encourage attention to hurricanes in the Southeast and not in the Northwest, and attention to volcanoes in the Northwest and not in the Southeast.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

October 15, 2010 @ 9:23 am

Wow… great stuff today contributors!

Taking a few of Phil’s points and shaping them out for a response.

‘There is no evidence to the contrary that will not be attacked.”

Correct…. If we cannot assume we won’t be attacked we must therefore assume we will, at some time have another attack or at the very least many attempts.

“This threshold is at least as high as the 9/11 attacks.”

These attacks were very effective in a lot of the principles of war; simplicity, surprise, security, economy of force. While they were these things as well as creative and imaginative, they did not cause cataclysmic structural damage or loss. What they did do was emotionally tear at the veneer of autonomy and security we had felt up to this point. And we missed, failed to heed, or simply ignored many warning signs and activities in increasing intensity and boldness.

“National resilience — especially in such a rich, large and populous nation as the United States — is as much a psycho-social-political response as anything else. Certainly a 10K blast in any major city and especially in Washington D.C. would severely test our resilience. Would it necessarily break it?”

In this context, resilience is a state of mind, not a function.

On its surface, our geographical make up and our tens of thousands of municipalities’ should be strength rather than a weakness in this instance. The decision making infrastructure and deeply layered services could meet the demand for a surge capacity or short term interruption. However, there would be a stronger ripple within the logistics chains, but even there, there is a surge albeit short capability to shunt existing product and redistribute accordingly, over a short period of time.

“Terrorism is not the only — or most likely — source of catastrophe.”

Exactly! But its primary motivation is not damage; its fear. It is a psychological and than physiological interruption of individual and societal behavior. The attacks of 9/11 created a very concentrated damage field. So from a purely quantitative measure or battle damage assessment (BDA) it did not yield a great amount of physical damage.

What it did do of course, was expose our societal frailties, take lives and scare us. The fear possibilities were now endless and unknown, as opposed to the opportunities. A stark reality and contrast. It was the stripping away of our aura of invulnerability that paralyzed us and caused many knee jerk reactions.

“But expecting the worst mitigates its impact. Preparing for the worst is even more effective. We should certainly invest in prevention.”

Yes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but I am not sure Mr. Franklin had a metric as to cost and impact.

I agree, but only to a point. Prevention is much like defense…its very expensive, usually fixed, and reactionary. In that instance, the offensive member always has the advantage because of time/space relationships. One could make the philosophical argument that by keeping us on the extended defensive, prevention thought process, even more gaps are exposed. There is no amount of law or legislation that will prevent an enemy that is adaptive, resourceful and/or completely willing to die in their attempt.

Also from a criminal point of view; laws do not matter if you never intend to abide by them. This is the criminal advantage…the offensive; the terrorist advantage. The hesitation caused by restraint, law, and societies abiding by rules creates opportunity for nefarious activity to take place. There is also no random violence per se, but a calculation of risk reward on behalf of the criminal and their potential victim.

So from that instance, with all we’ve spent on preparation and prevention, what have we done to alter both our behavior and expectation? What is our safety and security need versus our societal capacity to adapt and persevere?

Who were a more resilient group of people; the children of the depression, dust storms, no work, and future soldiers that headed in to World War II or our current citizens? Does that question have any gravity or relevance today? Is it part of our iconic myth that we as Americans are a special group of people or is it simply a device of nostalgic waxing and waning for an era gone by?

It’s a question that formulates each and every one of our definitions of resilient and behavior. Look outside to an enemy foe a picture of resilience.

If you want to see a mode of resilience, read about the effectiveness of the Ho Chi Minh trail. The trail was not a single route, but rather a complex maze of truck routes, paths for foot and bicycle traffic, and river transportation systems. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese were equally adept at rapid redistribution and rapid repair of this circulatory logistics network. As early as 1965 there were hundreds of tons of supplies moving a day. As early as 1966, some 90,000 enemy combatants had infiltrated via the “trail”.

Although the trail was mostly in Laos, the communists called it the Truong Son Strategic Supply Route, after a mountain range in central Vietnam.. According to the U.S. National Security Agency’s official history of the war, the Trail system was “one of the great achievements of military engineering of the 20th century. . .

So is it behavior or economic prowess that enables resilience?

With all due respect to my fellow Americans; if we hope to become resilient Nation we need more of the Right stuff (http://tiny.cc/ptgph ) that just more stuff! Serious people, doing serious work, for no onter purpose than SERVING A

The key, mentioned several times today, in a variety of context to a response and recovery from predictable surprises is adaptation, expectation management, and individual readiness. Call me a fool, but a little pioneer spirit and self reliance supplemented with knowledge goes a long way in building a strong Nation.

And this is moving well beyond the terrorism/WMD/doomsday lexicon and vernacular we all become accustomed to coloring our days with.

Behavior… how we live as a society, reproduce offspring, form our civility and human rights and attributes, manage our needs, embrace our differences, stand for something and export and/or extol a virtue is more important than all the security and readiness we can muster.

To study the Buddha Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.” – Eihei Dogen Zenji

For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required.” — Luke 12:48

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 15, 2010 @ 10:42 am

Nice comment DAN! And of course we were not resilient until well after December 7th 1941. Imagine if Mid-WAY had turned out differently. Longer war certainly. Also when the draft was restored and then extended by one vote in 1941 and even through 1942, almost 40% of drafted men were rejected for malnutrition. You had to weigh at least 90 pounds so that you could be inducted and fattened up. Normal backpack and webgear for WWII Infantry ran between 60-80 pounds. M-1 rifle almost 10 pounds. But hey we won, I think and they lost.
Personally I really think resilience is a wonderful term and used to underpin Amanda Dory’s “Civil Security” study for CSIS in 2003.

After all even flu vaccine policy now changed forever. It is the HERD that vaccines are designed to protect not the individual. All must be vaccinated unless pregnant.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 15, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

Dan, Regarding the comparative resilience of our contemporaries and our near ancestors, I am not sure — and not sure how to confirm or deny — if today’s proportion of saints and scoundrels, resilients and wastrels is higher or lower than in the past.

Count Von Bismarck is given credit for saying that, “God takes care of fools, drunks, and the United States of America.” If he said anything similar it would seem we have long misled others — and even ourselves — regarding our fundamental character. How was it the “lost youth” of the 20s became the stalwart survivors of the Depression?

But of the issues you have raised one to which I will readily agree is that whatever the proportion of resilients and wastrels in our midst, we know each other less well and, as a result, must be less certain of our context than was once the case. So… this suggests to me a second criterion for a campaign of public education and public engagement, we ought bring neighbors together to meet and get to know one another.

Comment by SummerRain

October 15, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

I agree, great article today. I’m still waiting for the “October Surprise” just before the elections in November. It seems to me that HomeLand Security is really over stepping it bounds on the anti-war protesters a few weeks ago.

Of course America will be attacked again…and again as long as we have foreign enemies, but America will continue forward.

Comment by John Comiskey

October 16, 2010 @ 4:38 am

The discussion so far has been exhilarating and IMHO needs to be heard by

1. The American People
2. The President of the United States and aspirants thereto
3. Congress
4. Bob Woodward too

In the interests of transparency, I asked Philip to make resiliency the topic this week to facilitate the discussion board of my Introduction to Homeland Security class that I am currently teaching at Pace University. I had advance notice and a draft of this post and had the opportunity to read Obama’s Wars this week.
I have, with Philip’s permission, invited the class to participate in this blog and their postings will contribute to their final grade.
Further transparency, Philip is an observer of sorts in the class and meanders much in the background.
Philip and another HLS rock star Chris Bellavita have raised the question what is homeland security? For his part, Philip has championed resiliency to be a grand strategy of the homeland security paradigm.

President Barack Obama said

“We will do everything we can to prevent it [terrorism], but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever, that ever took place on our soil, we absorbed it.”

Thank you Mr. President!

Liz Cheney said:

“Americans expect our Presidents to do everything to defend the nation from attack.”

No thank you Mrs. Cheney and BTW that is a politically charged and irresponsible statement.

I “expect” and I implore my fellow citizens to “expect” that the President and all elected officials manage our expectations. Tell us what the threat is, what government is doing about the threat, what the government plans to do about the threat, and what the government expects of its citizens.

Doing “everything” to defend the nation from attack gives license to totalitarian government.

Doing “everything we can” provides Constitutional safeguards that have for two hundred years plus sustained our great Nation.

I had the occasion to hear Ret. General Charles C. Krulak, Commandant of the Marine Corps (1995-1999) speak last week. General Krulak cited Roman General Quinctilius Varus utter the words “Ne Cras, Ne Cras” (not like yesterday, not like yesterday) in 9 A.D. after his defeat by Germanic tribes at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. The tribes learned from their previous defeats, that Roman military power was not as effective in swampy terrain and the forest. Three Romans legions were lured into the forest and swamps. The legions were slaughtered. The Romans never ruled that region of Germania again.

Simply said, 2010 is not yesterday, we must not fight yesterdays battles and wars.

General Krulak opinioned that the US should only go to war when our vital national interests are at stake and that he had his reservations in the current engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although he commented that the Sunni awakening in Iraq did offer some hope.

He identified the conflict in Afghanistan as a hybrid conflict that requires a grand strategy to include all elements of national power: military, economic, diplomatic, and media. Nothing revolutionary here and the General did not identify the role of the media.
The General did elaborate on one element of the grand strategy and that is the “strategic corporal.”
The strategic corporal is a trihybrid peace keeper-humanitarian -lethal war fighter who is by necessity empowered to adapt and improvise US policy in his/her AOR which is typically three blocks.
The strategic corporal requires extensive training and education. Training serves to facilitate that which is known and education prepares a person for the unknown. Typically a strategic corporal requires 4-5 years of good followship and in-service training and education.

The 21st Century Teutoburg Forest requires resilient and strategic corporals.

The home front needs strategic citizens who like their strategic corporal counterparts are trihybird keepers of humanity.

If you see something say something AND do something when and if you can -if you can’t, allow those who can to do so and thank them.

It takes a Nation and its composite communities to make strategic citizens. It takes a sense of self reliance -to do for yourself and others with a sense of SELFLESSNESS. Strategic citizens are the products of strategic parenting and K-12 and college education that promotes CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY and RESILIENCY and not cradle-to-the-grave government entitlements.

Final point, resilient-strategic governments-corporals-and citizens can and will overcome a 10K TNT, RDD, CBRNE, or WMD attack because they can and must.

God Bless a Strategic America

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 16, 2010 @ 6:54 am

John, I agree with the analogy between the “strategic corporal” and the “strategic citizen.” I am surprised by a reaction I have regarding your encouragement to selflessness. Self-sacrifice is, I think, a crucial strength that we underestimate. The society almost certainly depends on systemic selflessness much more than is generally recognized.

I have to admit, though, that when I am working with neighborhoods, communities, or almost any group on issues related to resilience, readiness, and such I try to be very attuned to the mix of self-interest involved. What is important to these people when they are not working on this issue? If I can accurately answer that question I can — usually — find a way to make resilience and readiness helpful methods for achieving that self-interested objective. If I fail to make the link, there is often no practical follow-through.

I wonder — and I am just wondering outloud with you — if there may be a sequence that begins with self-interest but can end up somewhere else.

Does this expose another criterion for public education and public engagement in homeland security? I’m not sure.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 16, 2010 @ 8:05 am

THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL released a report on Community Resilence this week. Perhaps Phil will post an analysis or hyperlink. I did send the report on to him and will forward to any readers who desire a copy. Go to vlg338@yahoo.com

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 16, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

The National Academy Press link for the new study referenced by Bill is at http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13028

Following is the NAP description of the study:

Natural disasters–including hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods–caused over 220,000 deaths worldwide in the first half of 2010 and wreaked havoc on homes, buildings, and the environment. To withstand and recover from natural and human-caused disasters, it is essential that citizens and communities work together to anticipate threats, limit their effects, and rapidly restore functionality after a crisis.

Increasing evidence indicates that collaboration between the private and public sectors could improve the ability of a community to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Several previous National Research Council reports have identified specific examples of the private and public sectors working cooperatively to reduce the effects of a disaster by implementing building codes, retrofitting buildings, improving community education, or issuing extreme-weather warnings. State and federal governments have acknowledged the importance of collaboration between private and public organizations to develop planning for disaster preparedness and response. Despite growing ad hoc experience across the country, there is currently no comprehensive framework to guide private-public collaboration focused on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

Building Community Disaster Resilience through Private-Public Collaboration assesses the current state of private-public sector collaboration dedicated to strengthening community resilience, identifies gaps in knowledge and practice, and recommends research that could be targeted for investment. Specifically, the book finds that local-level private-public collaboration is essential to the development of community resilience. Sustainable and effective resilience-focused private-public collaboration is dependent on several basic principles that increase communication among all sectors of the community, incorporate flexibility into collaborative networks, and encourage regular reassessment of collaborative missions, goals, and practices.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 16, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

Thanks Phil!

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 16, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

I could fashion a pretty cogent argument that “Project Impact” under FEMA Director James Lee Witt was an excellent first step
on private public collaboration. Ended under Director Allbaugh and not sure of its exact status today as we enter FY 2011!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 17, 2010 @ 6:19 am

Dan and John, the issues of personal and social resilience you have each raised are interesting to me. I understand each of you to perceive that there are cultural, social, and political trends that undermine resilience. In this context, I would be interested in your “take” on a fairly long piece by Jonathon Haidt in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal. Despite the news-leading title, I don’t think the piece is primarily about the Tea Party. You can read the piece at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703673604575550243700895762.html

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 17, 2010 @ 8:58 am

Would that Haidt’s article be read and discussed widely and yes it does seem to ring true based on my understanding of world view and politics. I can argue however that whatever the political or world view the devil is not in the emotions but in the details when it comes to resilience. Stanley Surrey the brilliant Harvard Tax Law professor developed the concept of “Tax Expenditures” meaning provisions of the IRC that exempted, excluded, credited certain participants and portions of the economy from taxation whatever the merits of that exclusion or exemption. Thus, much policy buried in the IRC. I mention this because a thorough scrub of the IRC to see which provisions promote resilience might be a worthwhile project for the TREASURY that analyzes and develops tax policy and the Joint Committee on Taxation. Thus whatever the political belief in Karma or whatever the best and brightest would give us collective insight into making or increasing resilience as a government objective. Leaving all their own education, nutrion, health care, etc. seems to be shortsighted if the effort is to be made to promote and increase societal resilience. I would argue that NO political party wants to deal with details but instead wishes to posture and hope to attract by emotions enough followers to be elected. But perhaps I am wrong! With a Congress that seldom has members read the entirety of the legislation it passes then what can be expected if that legislation favors those issues and policies favored by those who can contribute the most to political campaigns. I would argue that recent SCOTUS decisions undermine resilience in many ways so perhaps that trend could be analyzed. Certain regulatory schemes could also be analyzed on the basis of resilience. And certainly as I have suggested before, starting with DHS, all programs, functions, and activities should have a resilience impact study, much like an EIA or EIS.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 17, 2010 @ 10:07 am

Bill, I welcome your persistent push to be more specific, more grounded, and more attentive to the details that characterize — often craft — the big picture. My own tendency to glide by at about 35,000 feet can obscure both problems and potential solutions.

But I also perceive that our sometimes contentious arguments over the big picture and its meanings are motivated by trying to reach a rough consensus as to our shared reality. This might emerge from a sense that if we could reach some broad agreement as to what is really going on (or not), we might then be able to reach some agreement on how to “triage” the details.

Getting the right balance of forest and trees can be difficult.

I don’t drink the brand of tea that most members of the Tea Party seem to prefer. But I think it is a mistake to dismiss out-of-hand the movement’s “crowd wisdom”. Haidt’s analysis contextualizes the Tea Party in a way that many of us might recognize as coherent with our own perceptions.

I don’t know John’s or Dan’s political dispositions, but in their most recent comments I read some echoes of what Haidt outlines. I wonder if they will hear the same echoes?

If Haidt has begun to help us perceive a shared narrative of our problems and opportunities, this would go a long way to helping identify further criteria for an effective effort at public education and public engagement related to resilience.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 17, 2010 @ 10:28 am

As you state hoping the big picture and close focus occur sometime in this decade before the “Big One”! Whatever that is!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 17, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

This is a delayed response to Arnold’s first comment in this very long string.

I was airborne for a few hours today and reviewed some of Lee Clarke’s work on the absence of public panic in the majority of disasters. Arnold, in re-reading your response above I recognize that the reaction you are describing is not exactly the immediate public response, but political consequences of the event. But I think some of Dr. Clarke’s comments are still relevant. In an interview he said,

I looked long and hard at the Department of Homeland Security’s documents on prevention response and countermeasures, and I’m looking for some mention of the public in there…

Instead of mention of the public, what I find is references to fear and panic and the first responders. The first responders here are always officials and organizations. The problem is the person in the street is the first responder. It’s the passenger on the airplane. It’s the teacher in the local school system. It’s your neighbors. Those are the first responders. It matters. It matters.

I saw — we know the disaster response is largely a local affair — so I looked also in those documents for some reference to that. You see some words about coordination at the local level. You look in vain for the actual people. It matters. Our models of how people respond in disasters, it matters if those models are wrong. Okay.

How to involve the public. We need to find ways to not just think about educating the public, but actually involving them in more active ways.

I have no solutions. If I had the solutions, well, I guess I’d be boss of everything. I have no solutions, but just as imagination prodders we need, of course, massive upgrading of the Public Health Service. We might engage in something like the operation alerts during civil defense days, but in ways that involve people more directly.

We might think about disaster response as organized the way that normal social life is organized. We are a people organized by race, we’re organized by age, by occupation, by families, by churches, by non-profit organizations, all at the very local level. We need to push the effort, the resources and the imagination. We need to push the imagination down.

You can read the whole interview with Dr. Clarke at http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/website/events/2003_public-as-asset/clarke/clarke_trans.html

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 17, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

Amanda Ripley’s book “The Unthinkable” fits into the discussion of resilience by individuals including those on scene during the initial phases of the event and those directly impacted.

Comment by John Comiskey

October 17, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

I want to be brief to make way for what I hope are 18 graduate students and future homeland security leaders who are scheduled to start module 8-resiliency this Tuesday. The blog schedule being what it is and bloggers being the bloggers that they are the blog will run its own course.

Pace students are directed to the initial post and are free to follow any thread or make their own. Blog rules apply.

So two points, Haidt’s article is more about karma and the Golden Rule then the emergence of the Tea Party. I believe in karma, the Golden rule, self-reliance, and liberty.

Note to all bloggers, our class at Pace was given the following readings:

Resilience: The Grand Strategy, Philip Palin

The Cycle of Preparedness: Establishing a Framework for Terrorist Threats, Pelfrey, William

National Preparedness Guidelines

America the Resilient, Flynn, Stephen from Foreign Affairs, Mar/April 2008

Mr. Cumming’s recommendation The Unthinkable did not make the reading list cut only because there are not that many hours in the day.

Comment by John Anticev

October 18, 2010 @ 11:25 am


1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness:

The above definition speaks for itself. It does not imply drastic or draconian changes. It means perseverance, to recover and move on.

Imagine the United States and its people were not. We never would have made it past James Town. If men or nations are not resilient they perish. Resilience has been our tactical advantage for our entire history.

Of all the trials and tribulations that this nation has endured we paid a heavy price for lack of resiliency with the Japanese internments during World War II. Our counterterrorism strategy must include our ability to absorb threats and eventual attacks without resorting to actions that will change the very fabric of our society.

An eleven trillion dollar economy and 300 million people should not be effected by several thousand fanatics bent on our destuction as well as their own. If we turn into a police state to “possibly” prevent the next attack, we do it at our own peril and the terrorists have won.

Comment by Louis Hicks

October 18, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

This week’s reading was targeted to discuss to discuss preparedness and resilience. The first reading was the “National Preparedness Guidelines” published by the Department of Homeland Security. The purpose of this reading is to set standards for federal, state, and local governments in order to prepare for any disaster natural or man-made. The main focus of this reading is setting readiness metric that helps evaluate if we are prepare to respond to any event. This will allow for federal, state, and local governments to train in areas in which they are weak, get needed funding to address shortcomings in needed equipment, and share information between all agencies.
I felt that the writing was a great start to get everybody focused on actions that needs to be accomplished to prepare for a hazard. It gives homeland security personnel flexibility to not only writing strategic plans but allows for personnel to adjust plans based on the current situation such as an terrorist plot or to request funding to show a weakness in their plans.
The next reading was the “Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management” by William V. Pelfrey. The writings suggest that preparedness should be a continuous process due to the complexities of homeland security. This is something that I agreed with because not all natural disasters are the same and trying to plan for a terrorist attack is like a cat and mouse game. Terrorist seek vulnerabilities in our security we must try to stay ahead of them. I feel that yes we should try to establish plans to respond to a hazard but when given intelligence creditable or not the cycle should began to prepare until we find out if the information was valid.
The next two readings “Resilience: The Grand Strategy” by Philip J. Palin and “America the Resilient” by Stephen Flynn. I placed these two reading together because it addressed what I felt we lost after 9/11, the ability to prepare the nation for the unknown. The one problem I feel the federal government have not embraced in homeland security is what the American can do when faced with adversity. The acts of the passengers on United Airlines flight 93 was a great example of this. I feel that the government should come up with a better plan in keeping the public informed of suspected threats.
The government has to understand that the new threats that America faces requires that they involve the American people. Time has shown whether it was the attack on Pearl Harbor or the Great Depression, Americans have proven that they can adapt to any situation and perform above and beyond what is expected. Not capitalizing on what an informed society can do is not fully preparing for attacks to the homeland. If the public was properly informed they would know when something is not in order and be able to report this local law enforcement.
We all love this country no matter what differences we have. After the attacks on 9/11 America we were united and this is something that we must get back in order to properly protect the homeland. The public must be included in any homeland security plan and part of that process must include how to inform the public without creating panic. This task is complex as with any aspect of homeland security but must be accomplished because together we can deal with any adversity.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 19, 2010 @ 4:58 am

Mr. Hicks, Thanks for your comment. In regard to informing the American people of suspected threats, can we — should we — distinguish between the government’s role to inform and the citizens’ responsibility to be informed?

I ask the question because of the extensive information the government has made available on the threats facing us. Just a quick sample:

The National Intelligence Strategy (http://www.dni.gov/reports/2009_NIS.pdf)
The National Security Strategy (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/national_security_strategy.pdf)
2009 Report on Terrorism (http://www.nctc.gov/witsbanner/docs/2009_report_on_terrorism.pdf)
Global Trends: A Transformed World (http://www.dni.gov/nic/PDF_2025/2025_Global_Trends_Final_Report.pdf)

The list could go on for quite awhile. Threat information on earthquake, wildfire, flood, and such is also widely available. In these documents, in speeches, and in many other ways the government has been proactive in informing the people. Recently we have seen the US government and other governments warn of an increased risk of terrorist attack in Europe. The government has been critiqued for offering such a warning, yet I would argue that if citizens had been paying attention, they would be able to place the warning in a meaningful context.

There is an important role for government in crafting resilience. I am especially concerned that the government’s action not suppress resilience. But even more important, it seems to me, is the individual citizen’s responsibility for situational awareness, being in relationship with neighbors, and taking proactive steps in personal and neighborhood risk readiness. Is the problem lack of information or reluctance to take responsibility for personally engaging the information?

I may have mis-read your intent, but I hear you suggesting resilience is the government’s job — and while I don’t want to discount the government’s role — it seems to me resilience is more a matter of readiness, flexibility, and adaptability of people and systems outside the government’s control. If this is true, how can we be — can we be — more resilient?

Comment by Louis Hicks

October 19, 2010 @ 7:55 am

Mr. Palin,

I agree with you that the individual should take more responsibility in being informed. And it is sad for me to say this but many Americans don’t take the fact that we as a nation are facing so many threats and still we go day to day like these threats don’t affect us. This is why I feel the federal, state, and local governments must, as they done in Europe, continue to warn the people. Because even if you warn the people of an oncoming threat such as Hurricane Katrina where some people decided to ride it out because they have done it in the past they were given the information. We can only be more resilient if we fully understand we as country are under attack. Once the American people fully understand this then they would better prepare themselves.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 19, 2010 @ 8:53 am

Mr. Hicks, a previous commentator, John Anticev, makes the point that the risk of over-reacting to the terrorist threat may be greater than the risk posed by the terrorists. I am not sure this is the intention of Mr. “Anticev”, but some argue that in the nonchalance of the American public we are seeing a realistic and resilient attitude. Terrorism — and especially catastrophic terrorism — is improbable or at least very infrequent. As a result the wisest course of action, they say, is to deal with the present reality and not worry about some unlikely possibility. According to this perspective the American people understand the nation is under attack but also understand the limitations of our adversaries and have responded with a reasonable risk assessment. For the sake of argument, if we could demonstrate through surveys or otherwise that, in fact, the American people have been “informed” as argued and are behaving in a more-or-less self-consciously risk-based manner, would that be satisfactory to you?

Comment by Louis Hicks

October 19, 2010 @ 11:53 am

Mr. Palin,

I think it I would accept the data but I would still wonder things like how many of those surveyed had emergency kits or if they knew exactly what threats they face. I guess my twenty years serving in the US Army as a CBRNE NCO always have me always thinking worst case scenario.

Comment by Jeff Stout

October 19, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

“As uniformed emergency responders constitute less than one percent of the total U.S. population, it is clear that citizens must be better prepared, trained, and practiced on how best to take care of themselves and assist others in those first, crucial hours during and after a catastrophic incident.”National Preparedness Guidelines 2007
This fact makes it clear that the American public need to get there act together. We as a nation don’t have enough man power(uniformed) to handle a large amount of civilian damage. 1% can’t take care of 99% because it’s physically impossible. This status quo works because the 99% population is not simultaneously injured at once, but it wouldn’t take all 99% of the population to overwhelm the system. The remedy for this family planning. Americans need to setup practical two or three day safety plans to take care of themselves and family.

Many Americans (if not most) are not aware of the probability of the next terrorist attack. It’s not an issue that is spoken about in the media and government as much I believe that it should be. It seems that the government treats the public like children. Many parents have a hard time telling their children about the ills of the world so as not to disrupt the continuity of TV dinners and American Idol. Resiliency will come from the people bouncing back should a terrorist attack occur. If people are blind sided the chance to bounce back will be lessened. Preparing for terrorism/disaster is a multidimensional problem. If public isn’t on the same page that adds another dimension to the problem.

“Deter all potential terrorists from attacking America through our uncompromising commitment to defeating terrorism wherever it appears.” page. 8 Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Does this mean abroad? This line terrifies me. Maybe because I’m reading too much into it or it wasn’t clarified well. Are we the international police? Do we have the resources and “divinity” to fight the worlds ills head on? I believe in helping other countries, but this quote sounds like a conquest not a strategy. This brings my next point. Phillip Palins Resiliency The Grand Strategy speaks of Virtue and begins to sound like a conversation between Euthyphro and Socrates (that’s a compliment). American generally has good intentions, but when we have a few bad apples abroad or make a mistake its effects are huge. Whether this is intentional or not. The U.S. is the worlds most powerful nation but does that mean we are more virtuous? I don’t believe we have strong enough morals to be the worlds police like this line states. I believe a part of resiliency is knowing which battles to choose, and the quote sounds reckless.

I remain optimistic in our capacity for resilience although the words above don’t sound like it. It’s not too late until it’s too late. I only sounds so pessimistic because I believe that is the best way to see our flaws or weaknesses. Telling ourselves we are ok when we are not could lead to peril.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 19, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

Mr. Hicks I appreciate your experience and your skepticism. As your own experience suggests, there is a demonstrated tendency for human beings to deny certain kinds of risk — especially non-immediate risk — despite being well-informed of the risk. This common tendency is one of the human species most non-resilient traits. To compensate for it we not only have to inform but we also need to prompt behavior change. I think this is related to Mr. Stout’s comments.

Mr. Stout I will agree and disagree with you. First — and further to my discussion with Mr. Hicks — there is survey data that makes a very strong case that the vast majority Americans are entirely well aware of the possibility of a terrorist attack, if anything Americans may overestimate the likely effects of the next attack. (See Pew Center data referenced in my original post above.) Where I agree with you is that despite this expectation there is a real risk of people being, as you said, “blind sided” when the attack actually comes. This was Arnold Borgis’ original critique of my post. Because of the phenemenon of denying non-immediate risk, there is a possibility of over-reacting to the event.

In a recent study commissioned by an insurance company (linked below) one expert explained,

… there are three elements of human psychology compelling failure to take action in advance of a disaster:

1. The bad thing is not going to happen. (Palin notes: This is not true in terms of the terrorist threat according to credible surveys)

2. If the bad thing does occur, it will affect others and not me. (Palin notes: This is the tendency found by survey data regarding terrorism.)

3. If the bad thing does affect me, the effects will be minimal. (Palin notes: We see this rationalization most often referenced for non-terrorist threats.)

So… when the event does affect the person and especially if the effect is significant, there is surprise… despite being well informed of the risk and recognizing the risk. Even more important for the purposes of this discussion, there is no proactive preparedness… because of the rationalizations noted above.

Given this reality and its clear relationship to reduced levels of readiness and resilience — and especially recognizing the issue is one of behavior-change rather than providing more information — what does this suggest in terms of a realistic policy and strategy for encouraging resilience?

The insurance study referenced above is clearly self-interested, but I also think it is credible, well-written, and it is especially helpful to see what the private sector is doing to encourage greater resiliency. The study can be accessed at: http://www.fmglobal.com/assets/pdf/P10168.pdf

Comment by Samantha Gagliardi

October 19, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

Resilience is innate (for most of us). When something goes wrong it is human nature to fix it. I don’t know many people that get comfortable when they are down, rather then picking themselves back up and carrying on. There are differences in peoples resilience efforts. Some people are slower than others, some people are more resistant to change, and some people just go with the flow. There are 3 options; the person will bounce back to the way they were, change for the better, or be worse off then the start.

On a larger scale, resilience can be identified using the same measurements. Either the nation will bounce back to its normal position, advance for the better, or crumble. Of course the resiliency of an organization is much different then that of a person. The resiliency of an organization depends on the protective, proactive, and preventative measures in which individuals have taken to prepare for a catastrophic event; accidental, natural, or intentional. I must say that I am not convinced that America lacks the intel, technology, innovation, and the resources to better the resiliency of the Nation, but rather is preoccupied with political advancement in the Middle East. Like Jeff said, we are not global police. We have a lot of issues to deal with here at home before we try to spread democracy and better the world’s internal conflicts.

I feel a lot of security measures are based around the possible amount of casualties foreseeable in a certain kind of attack. For example, we are giving most of our resources and funding to WMD research and prevention. However, we are convinced this sort of attack is unlikely. Yes, this sort of attack would be devastating and cause immense casualties. However, I think an attack that would affect us in the long run would be more detrimental. An attack on our food/water, our energy, a biochemical or radiological disaster. These attacks are less likely to cause immediate death, but can sincerely damage our economy and way of life in the long run.

I also feel that security measures for places that are not considered “a target” for future attacks leave us vulnerable. For example, Parris Island. The security measures at this Marine Corp base are awful in my opinion. Now, although the death rate would be minimal compared to an attack like 9/11, what if Parris Island was attack by extremist? What if they broke into what is supposed to be US secure soil, one of our military bases, and blew up hundreds of Marines? What picture would this paint for the US people, as well as our enemies? I think an attack like this would have just as much impact on American people as 9/11 although the death toll would be substantially less. If they are able to attack our military base so easily, how safe does that make me? It has been a thought in extremist minds, they are going to hit us where we are least expecting it.

All of these scenarios and theories are not unique. They are well known and discussed. It is a question of “what is the risk” of a potential target and allocating resources around that specific risk. There are plenty of actions we can take to better security in places thought to be of less interest to terrorist activity. Actions that will not cost much money, but will act as a deterrent not only to thugs but also terrorist. A single armed sentry with a tiny gate and a stop sign is only going to stop law-abiding citizens, not an extremist ready to die. We need to take into consideration public transportation as well. The lone guards and occasional bag check is not going to deter anyone but petty crime gangsters and thugs. Or maybe the dogs, that are or aren’t trained for actual bomb and drug detection? All simple stuff we need to be considering.

Our resiliency is based around our preventative and proactive measures to an attack. Whether the attack is accidental, intentional, or natural, the devastation will be the same. With a terrorist attack, of course fear will be eminent and the Government will take full advantage of that, as they did with enacting the Patriot Act. When the people are in fear, it is easier to persuade them to change. But like Franklin said, “He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.” Educating the public, or maybe even the public taking it upon themselves to be educated, may not work out in the Governments favor. There is a lot of corruption that is waiting to be reveled, complicity that is only hindering our chance of resiliency from the next attack; internal or external in nature. What the government tells the public, and what the public need to know are 2 very different pieces of information.

In my opinion and probably those on the commission for PNAC would probably agree that resiliency is not an option. America is resilient and will overcome it all, simply because we are unstoppable and egocentric. No one can hurt us, no one can hinder our treaty for world domination. We will take out anyone standing in our way, even if it is our own people. Will America bounce back? Absolutely; I think the question should be…Will America bounce back as a democracy driven Nation? I cannot answer that question anymore.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 19, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

Ms. Gagliardi, I understand you to be saying that attacks on our water, food, energy supply, and Parris Island would produce a less resilient response than some other attacks, including WMD events. If I have understood you correctly, what is it about the nature of these attacks — or our response to these attacks — that causes the less resilient response? Do these attack modes share some characteristic that suppresses resilience?

Is it “bouncing back” if the United States responds to an attack by recovering as a non-democratic nation? (I am responding to your last sentence.) It seems to me that given the fundamental nature of the United States, a departure from democracy would be evidence of non-resilience and a break rather than a bounce back.

Comment by Matthew Cassidy

October 19, 2010 @ 9:59 pm

For this week’s discussion we have the distinct pleasure of joining the homeland security watch blog. I’ll begin with; I had issues with the blackboard and now I’m blogging, I guess I’m moving into the 21st Century. Our reading assignments were the National Preparedness Guidelines, The Cycle of Preparedness: Establishing a Framework for Terrorist Threats, Resiliency: The Grand Strategy, America the Resilient: Defying Terrorism and Mitigating Natural Disasters.

This week we are discussing resiliency and preparedness, two simple words with tremendous meaning. Four weeks ago we discussed prevention, which in my opinion goes hand in hand with preparedness. Before diving into this week’s discussion what is resilience and preparedness? Resilience is the ability to grow and thrive in the face of challenges and bounce back from adversity. It is built through a set of core competencies that enable mental toughness, optimal performance, strong leadership, and goal achievement. Preparedness is the state of being prepared; readiness; possession of adequate armed forces, industrial resources and potential, especially as a deterrent to enemy attack.

In Mr. Palin’s, Resilience: The Grand Strategy I found it interesting that in “1946 George Kennan outlines five related understandings” those understandings can be used for the most part even today. The difference is we knew what the threat was back then; who are enemy was or thought to be; however that isn’t the same today. Today the threat changes all of the time. Each and every time we think we have the figured the terrorists or threat out, it changes. I thought a key sentence in the basic features of the principal risks to the United States was “we also require a self-awareness of vulnerability”. As I pointed out a few weeks ago when we discussed prevention, we as a country remain under-educated about and even unaware of the manmade and natural hazards that can completely alter lives in a matter of minutes. One of the proposals I offered was having some sort of training similar to the Department of Defense (DOD), which provides Anti-terrorism level I training on line at https://atlevel1.dtic.mil/at/. There are a few versions of this training – Military, DOD Civilians, contractors and dependants, without a .mil email address you won’t be able to access the more detailed training. However DHS should come up with a version for the average citizen to promote “self-awareness”. Last month was preparedness month, I participated in one preparedness fair, and it’s amazing on how many people don’t even know the basics to prepare themselves for any type of natural disaster let alone a terrorist attack. The biggest or most common answer was that’s what the government’s job is to protect us. In times of crisis we are either a victim or a responder.

One section of Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, first phase of the cycle: “Prevention is viewed as including the following elements or objectives”. The third bullet states “prevent them and their instruments of terror from entering our country.” According to the Office of Immigration Statistics dated August 2010; which provides immigration statistics; the particular chart I used was for fiscal year 2009. During FY 2009 the following countries with known ties to terrorism were allowed to immigrate/emigrate to the United States for various reasons; Iran (18533), Libya (296), Pakistan (21,555), Saudi Arabia (1,418), Sudan (3,577), Syria (2,442), and Yemen (3,134). First and foremost I know that not all Muslims or people who come from the Middle East are all terrorists. I also understand the need for politics and international affairs, what I don’t understand is why if we know where the majority of these “bad people “ come from why on earth are we still allowing them to come to America. For the most part I don’t believe very many Americans at least in their right mind, would want to emigrate to those countries, and even if they chose to they would be forbidden to do so in some cases, unless of course it was to perform service type jobs, work related, or you are sponsored.

In America the Resilient the second and third paragraphs it states “resilience has historically been one of the United States’ great national strengths”… “But this reservoir of self-sufficiency is being depleted”. I have to agree, the American people are strong but at some point, some will just throw in the towel. What is resilience? Just about everyone knows someone who seems to never fail. No matter what these types of people try they always seem able to conquer it. Success just seems to follow them. But is that the way it really works? Or is it that these people won’t let themselves fail? The more likely circumstances are when they try something and it doesn’t work; they regroup and try again, more determined than ever. To these types of people setbacks, whether minor or major, are viewed as temporary; just as in the case with flight 93.

“The United States’ aging infrastructure compounds the risk of destruction and disruption”. I am not afraid to say this openly, but I’m not a President Obama fan, however; one of the things I give him credit for is the work that has been done with the stimulus bill. The stimulus bill has begun to fix the “aging infrastructure” at least from what I have seen with the bridges in the Hudson Valley Area. So progress is being made but probably not as fast as it should. I had to sit and chuckle when I read “Two tricky but potentially influential allies in the effort could be the mass media and Hollywood” I agree in the first amendment, I also agree that the news should report the news how they see it. What I don’t agree with are the times the media broadcasts our vulnerabilities all over the television for all to see. It is of my opinion the media should give the federal government to correct a deficiency or vulnerability before broadcasting it around the world. Yes it goes against what I just stated, however, if they (Govt.) brush it off or pushes it aside then, report it; allow them to fix the issue before making us more vulnerable.

Resilience is not simply about being ‘tough’. It’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with having an emotional reaction to a difficult situation; in fact, there would be something wrong with you if you didn’t react. Resilience is not about the individual in isolation; it’s about relying on you and relying on others. Resilience is not a final destination; it’s a continuous process that you need to work on.

The president’s comment “I said very early on, as a Senator and continue to believe, as a presidential candidate and now as president, that we can absorb a terrorist attack”. I believe that it’s pretty selfish for the president to say those words since I don’t believe he has personally never been affected by terrorism. He is without a doubt the safest person in the world.

Finally, education is the key to preparedness and we as future leaders need to encourage community members to get involved and be informed while emphasizing the importance of personal responsibility and the community’s involvement in emergency preparedness.

Comment by Mike Linehan

October 19, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

Resiliency as a tool against adversity has always been present in our country. We have always prided our self on our true grit and ability to weather any storm. But is there a limit to which resiliency can help us? Are there events so catastrophic from which we could not recover? The President calls it a “game changer” event such as nuclear attack or WMD.
The President clearly sees limits to our country’s resiliency but we must approach this with the tenacity that we can overcome any adversity. When we see limits to or resourcefulness we are closing the door to possible solutions to problems. Even though people may say they expect further people may say they expect attacks are we really ready for such occurrences? There could be devastating natural disasters which could test our resiliency.
We can say we are resilient in the abstract but when we resolve is tested we will see what we are made of. I think we definitely must proceed from a place of we can meet any challenge because if we expect less ourselves we are set up for defeat.
Of course, it is incumbent upon us to prepare, prevent and recover in a planned way to be the most resilient we can be. By presenting cohesive plans that have been reached by all parties collaborating together we will be an even greater threat to those who seek to do us harm.
Resiliency, like courage, is tested in times of great crisis but Americans have always risen to an occasion. I am confident that we will to so again, if we are called up to act. Being prepared is the best way to mitigate damages from any attack and we must never stop trying to improve upon our plans.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 20, 2010 @ 5:51 am

Mr. Cassidy, welcome to blogging. I have been doing it for about three years. A warning: what too often happens in blogging is an explosion of mostly unrelated assertions. Assertions are like alcohol, in moderation they can be interesting and give shared deliberation an enjoyable buzz. But too many assertions and there is no deliberation, just arguing (which can be very different from argument). I have been known to drink a bit too much myself.

Since you and the other Pace students are engaged in this blogging as an educational exercise I assume your purpose (and theirs) is deliberation. Interesting word deliberate: It is derived from the Latin for scales (like the scales of justice). In deliberating we are weighing one set of evidence and argument against others. What gives an argument weight? Worth some consideration, but not here and now.

In deliberating with you I am trying to be sure I understand your evidence and your argument. I ask questions of clarification or I offer an alternative perspective in order for you (and your peers) to add evidence or sharpen argument or for us together to reach a new understanding from our shared deliberation. Assertion Alert: I am concerned this careful and considerate give and take, especially important to democratic life, is becoming a lost art.

So for you and your peers, a few questions:

You wrote, resilience “is built through a set of core competencies that enable mental toughness, optimal performance, strong leadership, and goal achievement. Preparedness is the state of being prepared; readiness; possession of adequate armed forces, industrial resources and potential, especially as a deterrent to enemy attack.” Why are these the key characteristics of resilience? What is your evidence or what is your argument?

You raise the issue of further restricting or eliminating immigration from certain nations. How do you respond to the moral and pragmatic arguments that will be raised against such measures?

The moral argument is generally outlined in terms of collective punishment for individual wrongs. For example, in the mid-19th Century there was a perceived trend of Irish immigrants to the United States being a recurring source of serious trouble. This was especially the case in the aftermath of the 1863 Conscription Riots. Should immigration from Ireland have been stopped in response to these troubles? Is this historical example a reasonable analogy to our current situation?

The pragmatic argument is often offered that the United States especially needs to communicate effectively with the non-extremist populations of the nations you have identified. The success of our immigrant populations is one of our most effective sources of “soft power.” (See the book Soft Power by Joseph Nye.)

What is your rebuttal or your reconsideration regarding these moral and pragmatic objections?

Recently Secretary of Defense Gates noted that a free press is fundamental to the resilience of the United States. He argued that despite the sort of problems you have cited, a free press prompts the kind of self-criticism and, therefore, self-correction that is essential to resilience and renewal. (I will try to find the original source, but I have to run to a breakfast meeting.) How do you respond to Mr. Gates’ analysis?

You offer the example of resilient individuals who have the ability to regroup after failure and view set-backs as temporary. You reminded me of Sir Winston Churchill’s comment, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Certainly Churchill was amazingly resilient. Are there key characteristics or sources of such resilience that we can be more attentive to cultivating in parenting, education, management, and public policy?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 20, 2010 @ 5:53 am

Mr. Linehan, You wrote, “Of course, it is incumbent upon us to prepare, prevent and recover in a planned way to be the most resilient we can be. By presenting cohesive plans that have been reached by all parties collaborating together we will be an even greater threat to those who seek to do us harm.” How is our ability to threaten others key to our resiilence? Is this, in your judgment, the most important aspect of resilience?

Comment by Samantha Gagliardi

October 20, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

I believe the resilience to any attack on our nation will be about the same. I didn’t mean a WMD attack would affect our resiliency worse or less. Any attack will affect us as a nation and will try our ability to “bounce back.” However, I am trying to say I don’t think after the next major attack on our soil, will America necessarily “bounce back” to its normal facade of democracy. You mentioned then this wouldn’t be “bouncing back” since we are a “democracy” to begin with. Therefore, the nation will redeem itself, but like you said, with a departure from democracy. Would this be a break? Prior to 9/11 I can admit I felt a lot safer from the Government. It seems as though democracy is on the forefront of this war and it is being taken away in small pieces. I am even worried to speak like this over the internet for fear of FBI Agents breaking into my house and taking me away for terrorist like statements. In which they would write their own search warrant under the Patriot Act. Take me away without the right to an attorney, questions, or trial. Is this how I am spending my tax dollars? Is this what I thought resiliency of the nation is? Do I really feel safer? Maybe from another terrorist attack, which I am on the fence; from my Government, no.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 20, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

Samantha, Thank you for the clarification. There is an argument as to which aspect of 9/11 was worst: the attack itself or how the nation responded to the attack. I don’t think we have to choose in order to recognize the implications of the issue for resilience. Fundamental to resilience is an ability to retain essential characteristics under stress and this is largely a matter of how we respond.

Resilience is generally characterized by a combination of strength with flexibility. Arguably flexibility is even more important. The ability to bend and bounce back is probably the most common example of resilience. Strength and flexibilty can go together, but are often in competition. Strength and flexibility can even be seen as proxies for security and freedom.

I share some of your concern with the long-term implications on civil liberties emerging from this very long-war against terrorism. It is also possible to imagine non-terrorist events that could produce a public and political response that would challenge our civil liberties. It is important to recognize that it is not the threat itself but our response to the threat that will potentially impact our civil liberties.

Unfortunately I do not have time this afternoon to produce the evidence or argument that the following assertion deserves, but I will offer I do not think your worst-case concerns are as likely today as they were four to six years ago. It seems to me that since the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld there has been some balance restored in the issues that concern you. You can see more on the decision at http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-6696.ZS.html

I appreciate your candor in sharing these personal concerns. I think you can be confident of a vigorous response by the Pace University law school faculty if you have any legal hassles.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 20, 2010 @ 3:07 pm

In my prior response to Mr. Cassidy I paraphrased from memory a recent comment by the Secretary of Defense. Here is the actual quote in context, see RG for Robert Gates.

DG: Historian Stephen Ambrose argued that Americans had one advantage in military leadership: that our soldiers were sons of democracy who grew up encouraged to think on their feet.

RG: This country has two inherent advantages. First, the caliber of our young people. Second, we’re more self-aware and self-critical than any country in history. That doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of geniuses. It just means — due, in no small part, to a free press — that we recognize our problems faster than anybody else and move to correct them faster.

You can access the full interview with Secretary Gates at:


Comment by Matthew Cassidy

October 20, 2010 @ 11:22 pm

Mr. Palin, in response to your questions “why are these the key characteristics of resilience. What is your evidence or what is your argument”? I offer the following rebuttals and possibly some reconsideration but not total reconsideration. Hopefully I will present additional information that may support my views and proposals.

The core competencies or key characteristics of resilience, I’ll begin with strong leadership. Providing strong leadership prior to and in the aftermath of a disaster whether a natural disaster or a terrorist attack is extremely important promoting encouragement, initiative and personal drive, it is essential for creating and maintaining a balanced, trusting and motivated environment. Weak leadership is contagious, if our community leaders are weak then the rest of the community will be weak. Some would argue Mayor Giuliani was a weak Mayor, however he proved to the world after the attacks he was a remarkable leader.

In regards’ to possession of adequate armed forces, industrial resources and potential, especially as a deterrent to enemy attack. I believe this is self explanatory; however, if the United States has a weak military then all of our foes would take advantage of us. The US has of course our active duty and reserve military to deal with our global issues, as well as supporting our allies. The National Guard and Air National Guard are to provide each of the states internal protection of life and property. One thing the American people know is that we have the most powerful military in the world, for some, knowing that, is all they need to keep faith and remain resilient. Mental toughness – In order to thrive in disorder and uncertainty, we must give our citizens a greater sense of confidence or self-esteem; to encourage the mental toughness and ethical development for success. Our challenge today is to prepare for an unclear future.

As you mentioned I stated “I don’t understand why if we know where the majority of these “bad people “come from why on earth are we still allowing them to come to America.” My initial thought was simply to cut off the immigration by the countries identified, I had no research to back up my thoughts. I understand your points, and I offer the following answers and rebuttal. You point out that the “moral argument is generally outlined in terms of collective punishment for individual wrongs”. My answer to that is the Preamble of our United States Constitution states; We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. To me that means protect the homeland at all costs. The folks on this blog are; I am sure very familiar with the abundance of terrorist attacks against Americans and American businesses around the world prior to 9/11. The majority of the terrorist attacks since the mid 80’s have primarily been executed by individuals of the mentioned countries. Isn’t it time for those countries to take ownership and do some house cleaning of their own. We place embargoes on countries for what their leaders are doing, why not limit immigration. The United States has set quotas on immigration in the past for example; In 1880 President Benjamin Hayes signed the Chinese Exclusion Treaty. The Chinese Exclusion Treaty completely prohibited immigration from China and the naturalization of Chinese immigrants already in the United States for a period of ten years, In 1923-1924, 68th Congress Japanese immigration legislation -The Act barred specific countries from the Asia-Pacific Triangle, specifically Japan, China, and the Philippines, these immigrants were not eligible for naturalization, and the Act forbid further immigration of any persons to be naturalized, and in 1932 President Roosevelt and the State Department essentially shut down immigration during the Great Depression as immigration went from 236,000 in 1929 to 23,000 in 1933. Additionally you posed a question “should immigration from Ireland have been stopped in response to these troubles”? Honestly, I don’t know if I have an answer for that, what I do know is that was a different era, people and times have changed for the better. That could have been a possibility at a minimum.

In reference to Secretary Gates’ comments “a free press is fundamental to the resilience of the United States”. I would agree to an extent, as I stated I believe in the first amendment, I also agree that the news/press should report the news how they see it. What I don’t agree with is how the media broadcast our vulnerabilities in newspapers and on television for our adversaries to see and possibly plan their next strike without having the opportunity to correct the vulnerability in a timely manner. If the press wants to report on such incidents of Abu Ghraib abuse or fraud, waste, and abuse, I would say give them the green light.

There was a website I found called Learning for Sustainability (LfS) there were two source documents the documents are Community Resilience: Lessons From New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina and Building Resilience in Rural Communities: Toolkit. Both of these documents can be found at http://learningforsustainability.net/susdev/resilience.php. Another site I found was the Torrens Resilience Institute located at http://torrensresilience.org/characteristics-of-resilience. Although I didn’t read all of the documents I do believe the documents and web sites can provide education that would be beneficial in educating communities.

Being resilient does not mean you won’t experience difficulty or stress. It only means that in dealing with excessive demands you will deal with better, that when an adverse situation cannot be resolved you will be able to continue living with it more competently, and with less pain.

Respectfully submitted

Comment by Arnold Bogis

October 21, 2010 @ 1:10 am

Mr. Cassidy,

Very interesting comments. I just have a few questions:

Before 9/11, the worst terrorist attack carried out on U.S. soil was ________?

And what were the nationalities of the perpetrators of that attack?

If we are to penalize states and many people for the acts of a few, how has our “special relationship” with the UK endured over the decades? If one were to accept without question that states should inflict some sort of retribution upon other states for allowing terrorist-related activities to operate within their borders (say, fundraising….), what should the UK have done to the U.S. for allowing IRA fundraising and gun-running to operate out of NYC and Boston?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 21, 2010 @ 5:38 am

Mr. Cassidy: Many thanks for a very helpful response. I especially appreciate your link to learningforsustainability. It looks to be a rich resource on resilience.

As I noted in my comments to Samantha, resilience can be understood as a blending of strength and flexibility or even security and freedom. I hear in your contributions a consistent focus on the aspect of strength.

Many definitions of resilience focus on the elastic nature of resilience. Going straight to the dictionary, we see that elastic means:

1. capable of returning to its original length, shape, etc., after being stretched, deformed, compressed, or expanded: an elastic waistband; elastic fiber.
2. spontaneously expansive, as gases.
3. flexible; accommodating; adaptable; tolerant: elastic rules and regulations.
4. springing back or rebounding; springy: He walks with an elastic step.
5. readily recovering from depression or exhaustion; buoyant: an elastic temperament.
6. Economics . relatively responsive to change, as to a proportionate increase in demand as the result of a decrease in price. Compare inelastic ( def. 2 ) .
7. Physics . of, pertaining to, or noting a body having the property of elasticity. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/elastic)

Clearly there is strength here, but it is an almost paradoxical strength: the strength of jiu-jitsu rather than boxing, of the epee instead of the sabre. (In fencing I was dominating with the sabre but my wife and others who were much “weaker” would almost always defeat me with the epee.)

Especially in dealing with asymmetric threats, this elastic aspect of strength may be especially important.

In regards to the moral argument, I think you see in Mr. Bogis’ response that you have not yet persuaded everyone. Part of this may be — and I would have to ask many more questions before either one of us might know with some certainty — that your moral category is utilitarian or pragmatic, whereas my moral category (or Mr. Bogis’) is different. As is so often the case, until we have clarified what we are really discussing, I may perceive we are discussing the souls of humans and you may be discussing to soles of shoes or vice versa. Understanding one another is always a challenge, especially on the most important issues… and so, how we listen to one another and how we organize evidence and argument is crucial.

Comment by Jeff Stout

October 21, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

Mr. Palin you give great examples of strength vs elasticity. These examples having multiple elements to define elasticities usefulness. Throughout all of my years doing jiu jitsu I never thought to look at strength/elasticity on a national level. Good example.

What would you consider flexibility in our national effort against terror? Or give an example rather.
“I said very early on, as a Senator and continue to believe, as a presidential candidate and now as president, that we can absorb a terrorist attack.” President Obama. This comment may have been worded to sound like provocation to terrorists. At the heart of it sounds like elasticity.

Comment by Ben Ogden

October 21, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

Preparedness is not a new idea in America. During the cold war Americans were preparing for possible attacks by building bomb shelters and stockpiling. Since the emergence of terrorism, specifically post 9/11, there has been a national effort to increase preparedness. In 2003 Bush gave the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-8 to the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop an all hazards preparedness goal. Since then there have been National Preparedness Guidelines written, altered, and added to. I have a feeling that these guidelines will never be finished, each year a new threat or development will cause them to be altered. So are we ever going to be able to actually fully implement and utilize these guidelines?

Preparing for every possible hazard is nearly impossible. “Many maintain that America is “still unprepared” for major acts of terrorism within the borders of our country.” I would disagree with this; we are better prepared for numerous different attacks. There are some that we will never be able to prepare for, or that are such a minuet risk that they are not worth preparing for. But there are also hazards that we cannot prepare for. Tornados for example occur so quickly that there are some times circumstances where it will hit a populated area before residents can prepare.

According to the reading it is necessary for all aspects of America (National, State, Local, Tribal, Private, Citizens) to all be familiar with preparedness, recovery and resiliency. After 9/11 America was successful in the post attack recovery and resiliency. One would hope that at this time we are better prepared for this than before, but it is possible that all citizens are not ready for a worse attack that we would have to recover from. In order to be resilient and recover quickly and appropriately it is necessary to have everyone prepared for this and I do not see this to be the case at this point.

In America the Resilient the idea that the American people need to be resilient and ready to respond to any emergency. I completely agree with this, a prepared public is a prepared nation. However, it also hints that the governments focus on attacking terrorists is the wrong approach, which I disagree with. In order to protect the American people we need to insure that the next attack is not going to take place. If the best way to do this is to eliminate terrorism at the source then that’s what we should so.

Phil states that “Resilience alone is not sufficient to succeed in the present war. We must go beyond resilience to constrain our adversaries, reduce their capabilities, preempt planned attacks, and protect ourselves. But we are unlikely to be entirely successful.” The war on terror is a war that is close to or completely impossible to win. Yes resiliency is/should be a key element to the success; however, it cannot be the only strategy. Resiliency is an idea that helped lead America through the cold war, a war that could have lead to mutual destruction. In all reality the threats during the cold war were much more possible and strong then the threats of terrorist attacks at this time. However, we can still look back at how we won the cold war to realize how we can protect ourselves from terrorists.

Comment by Logan Wright

October 21, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

One of the great advantages the U.S. has been is it’s ever changing perception of intelligence and like wise complacency. These two factors allow resiliency to occur naturally, without a critical need for mass politcal marketing or catastrophic events to occur. The nation has been and more than likely will be, changing it’s view on whether or not intelligence and law enforcement are acting accordingly to current threats. Because of this, portions of the population will be complacent when the other is not, and at the same time some will feel that intelligence and law enforcement are meeting the current threat level when others are not.
Richard Betts describes this balance perfectly in a piece he wrote in the anthology “Intelligence and National Security”. He writes “Making warning systems more sensitive reduces the risk of surprise, but increases the number of false alarms, which in turn reduces sensitivity”. It is easy to see the never ending cycle when you think about it. An event occurs that shakes the nation, changes policy (as it always seems to do), and calls for action. In response, every agency re-evaluates their common processes and makes them more refined, more sensitive.
Eventually the number of false alarms or dead ends begin to pile up, bringing some of the effected population to a state of complacency. Some continue their diligence and when they see those who are complacent, feel that intelligence and law enforcement are failing to meet the current threat level. Vice versa, those who have felt betrayed by the growing number of false alarms and have become complacent feel perfectly safe considering a lack of perceived threat.

Comment by Vincent Antonecchia

October 21, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

Of all the readings this week, “America the Resilient” by Stephen Flynn, particularly hit a nerve with me. Flynn writes that responding to today’s challenges, threats of terrorism, and natural disasters, requires the broad engagement of civil society. This concept is precisely what we have been speaking about in past week’s discussions. Resilience is about bouncing back from turmoil and turbulence both physically and emotionally. For this to occur with the American public, individuals need to take control of their own lives and become involved in the future of this country. Historically, we have been a nation of proud, independent and self-sufficient pioneers. We have become dependent, reliant and overly spoiled with conveniences and luxury items. We wait around for hand-outs from someone else, like the government, to “Bail” us out of our own problems and failures. We need to take responsibility for ourselves. We need to physically and psychologically prepare for another attack or natural disaster. To constantly hear about impending doom and destruction causes fear and panic. The best solution is to confront this fear head on and to take responsibility and prepare for our own survival.

As I read the “Cycle of Preparedness by William Pelfrey, I was disappointed to learn that being prepared is not easily defined. The experts in many diverse fields and areas cannot agree to a common definition of preparedness. An attempt to define it is, “The cycle of preparedness”, which breaks it down into four parts, they are; prevention, awareness of an attack, response and recovery. Of the four cycles, I believe prevention is key and within prevention is collaboration, intelligence gathering, analyzing and most of all, dissemination of this information.

The National Preparedness Guidelines recommends a system of national preparedness must be established which uses integrated plans, procedures, policies, training, and capabilities at ALL levels of government. This system needs to dissect all sectors, including; non-government, private, religious based, communities and the American public. I have noticed preparedness and involvement in all levels, except with private citizens, which is probably one of the most important and untapped resources. Most of the guidelines, policies and suggested improvements fail to involve and utilize civilian involvement and application. I believe the resiliency of this great nation lies with the American people and they are being left out of the equation. If this country is to prosper and succeed in the future, there must be participation and involvement from every American. The following statement by President John F. Kennedy during his inauguration speech in 1961 is more important now, than it has ever been. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 21, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

Mr. Stout, Two examples of flexibility, one more a thought-exercise, the other more practical.

Thought-exercise: Broadly speaking terrorists attack for one or both of two purposes: 1) To motivate beliefs and behaviors by their stakeholders elsewhere and 2) To use fear to motivate behavior by the people being attacked. If we would refuse to react with fear we would seriously undermine at least one and potentially both of the terrorist’s purposes.

More practical: If every individual or family with the financial means would keep on hand sufficient water, food, and essential medical supplies for three to five days of self-reliance we would have much more strategic flexibilty in case of a catastrophic event whatever the cause.

With the second example I am evidently agreeing with Mr. Antonecchia and Mr. Ogden. I am also trying to identify a specific, measurable, and doable objective around which the public and private sectors might organize some attention. Tom Peters, the management consultant (guru?), once said, “Attention is everything.” He was suggesting that all the mysteries and complications of management theory can usually be reduced to deciding what will really get sustained and meaningful attention.

A very quick response to Mr. Logan, the relationship between messaging and resilience is of fundamental importance. As you outline so well, this is especially important before an emergency. The importance continues — and probably grows — as an actual emergency unfolds. On October 13 the New York Times published an especially pertinent suggestion by Philip Bobbitt. You can access the piece at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/14/opinion/14bobbitt.html

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a couple of deadlines yet this evening and then I need to reclaim some personal resilience for what will be a long and important day tomorrow. I have valued the opportunity to participate with you, collaborate with you on some difficult problems, and deliberate together regarding how we might apply our resources to achieve our purposes in a way that reduces risk and claims opportunities. Best wishes in your studies.

Comment by Samantha Gagliardi

October 21, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

Resiliency should not be considered a strategy. Resiliency is the nations response to the severity of an attack on our soil and how well we are able to adapt and eventually move on. A nation cannot be resilient before it is attacked, therefore it is not a strategy. For a Nation to be considered resilient before an attack, one would need to know exactly how the nation will react and recover post the attack; therefore needing a psychic. I believe the resiliency of our nation will always suffer due to a catastrophic event, however, there are certain actions that can be taken by our federal, state, local, and private sector agencies to better the expectations of the American public. I don’t think it is important to debate what factors illustrate resiliency. Resiliency is every emotion one can fathom, and these emotions then coincides with collaboration and synchronization. It is the ability of America to work as one, using all the adjectives anyone want to throw into the bunch.

As for the measurements that have been taken to better homeland security post 9/11, I am skeptical. Ben seems to think progress has been made, I think it is the opposite. The capabilities and preparedness of local law enforcement agencies and the private sector are incompatible to the supposed threats of the future. Funding is insufficient in areas that need it most, such as security of chemical plants which pose an enormous threat to our safety if destruction was sought by terrorist. Vast quantities of public funds are being distributed and escape the conclusion that we have now combined complacency with greed and politics, a very deadly combination. In 2008 CBP paid 8 million dollars to sponsor a NASCAR racing team. The CBP defended spending taxpayer dollars on the grounds that it was good for CBP image. I cannot help but imagine how many of the ticking time bombs (chemical plants) could have been better secured with the funds squandered on the venture. This is only one area of my skepticism with the bureaucratic mess known as homeland security. If it were up to me, I would start doing something other then penning articles, holding meetings, and commissioning studies.

In order for this country to even begin to speak about resiliency, we need to get out act together and actually prove to the public that the next attack will be less of a “surprise.” If we are attacked again, and it becomes public knowledge after much scrutiny, that prevention tactics were not nearly as efficient as portrayed, the resilience of this country will suffer that much more. People are going to want to know where their tax dollars went and what was the actual purpose for the DHS. So far, I am not sure what exactly is the point of the DHS. Maybe it was a good idea, but carried out very insufficiently.

Comment by Jennifer Wacha

October 21, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

Mr. Palin, I would like to circle back to your initial inquiry of “What would an effective, expectation-shifting program of public education and public engagement look like?” Furthermore, you stated that this program should reflect a regional perspective of risk but community-level interaction. In light of this, I would like to propose the following for consideration as an effective approach: a “menu” of sub-programs that can be adopted and implemented at the community and/or jurisdictional level and covers the complete range of hazards. It should include initiatives that engage members of the community at all ages and build a community that actively participates in all-hazards prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. From this perspective, these sub-programs could be matched to the community’s socioeconomic make-up and existing level of preparedness engagement. These programs would span all ages and include participants from neighborhoods to civic groups to local jurisdictions.

One of the cornerstones to this program would be to foster not only realistic expectations but ones that reflect individual and community enlightenment and partnership; going far beyond “what are you going to do for me?” There are many communities, especially those in urban areas with high levels of service, which have very high expectations and low tolerance for interruptions in those services. For example, in a number of severe weather events over the last year, some communities lose patience with the local utility after the first two to three days of being impacted, even with clear significant and widespread tree damage. In other areas, often those less urban, the individuals in the community tend to anticipate and prepare for interruptions thereby reducing the negative impacts. Good examples of this can be found in many of the most northern communities who frequently encounter significant snow events.

To set this cornerstone and build the foundation, the program “menu” should target audiences starting as early as preschool and include personal and community preparedness. I have seen some communities with programs for children entering kindergarten that include education and hands-on training for how to safety cross the street, ride bicycles, protect from strangers and dangers around the home. This same community expands upon this and includes fire safety in elementary school, training in first aid and CPR in middle school, and programs to learn about the community’s response organizations in high school. This may seem overly basic for this discussion but this sets a foundation for individual responsibility and participation in the greater response. A suggested approach for this discussion’s topic: safety education for preschool and elementary-aged children; preparedness and prevention education in middle school and “participation” for high-school-aged through adult.

In addition to targeting all ages, these sub-programs should address capabilities that build personal and family, community and jurisdictional resiliency. Personal and family resiliency should include mitigation and preparedness education, like those incorporated into FEMA’s ready.gov programs but also the less obvious like health and wellness, financial well-being, and “see something, say something” or like initiatives. The private sector is an important partner in this, as many are interested in the resiliency of their employees and importance of workforce for maintaining their own essential services. Community resiliency should incorporate educational opportunities into the previously mentioned programs that engage community members. This can be enhanced by community, volunteer programs that build responder capacity and develop leaders in prevention, preparedness, response and recovery planning throughout the community. This can be facilitated by partnering with existing programs like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, community emergency response teams and other volunteer response organizations.

The last layer, building resiliency at the jurisdictional level, should look at policy issues, social programs and governmental and non-governmental partnerships. Policy, such as building codes, fire protection codes, flood plain protection, etc. can be important and effective for establishing community expectations that includes partnership starting when first introduced and throughout the policy’s lifespan. Social programs should be reviewed for how they support a community on a day-to-day basis but also that community’s recovery and rebuilding individual resiliency. Lastly, building partnerships between governmental and non-governmental organizations not only increase the number but how individuals are engaged as partners.

Creating connectivity between the existing safety and preparedness programs, expanding upon the content, engaging individuals at the earliest possible age, and bringing the jurisdiction together at all levels from the individual to the neighborhoods offers the best potential for creating an engaged and enlightened community of participants and leaders with expectations to match.

Comment by Vincent Antonecchia

October 21, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

Ms. Wacha, I believe your suggestions were “On target” and address many of the concerns regarding community involvement. As you indicated, each community could tailor the program to meet the needs of its residents. I especially like your ideas to involved kindergarten age children. What a great time to include children and train them to be civic-minded and selfless. Creating community connectivity and involvement are critical concepts which should be incorporated throughout the United States.

Comment by Matthew Cassidy

October 21, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

Mr Bogis, in answer to your question: “Before 9/11 the worst terrorist attack carried out on US soil”? I would have to say the answer you are looking for was on 19 April 1995, the Murrah Federal Building Bombing in Oklahoma City. A Ryder Truck containing approximately 5,200 pounds of ANFO (Ammonia-Nitrate and Fuel Oil) detonated, killing 168 men, women, and children and injuring hundreds. “What were the nationalities of the perpetrators of that attack”? Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and Michael Fortier were all co-conspirators in the attack and they were all Americans.

Yesterday I presented an annual Antiterrorism Level I brief to approximately 175 folks, mostly civilian employees at West Point. One of the areas discussed was brief history of attacks. Since terrorism has been around for so long I started with the Marine Barracks, Beirut, Lebanon, 23 October 1983, 241 servicemen dead and 105 injured (not U.S. soil), I also mentioned the Two U.S. embassies in Africa – U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Saalam, Tanzania, both of which are considered American soil. The attacks produced 291 deaths and over 5000 injured. Without a doubt the worst terrorist attack in history has to be the September 11, 2001 attacks.

What is my point in offering those two incidents? Simply that the American people didn’t take terrorism seriously until after 9/11. Terrorism was someone else’s problem, it’s over there, or it hasn’t affected me; are some of the common answers or problems. Terrorism has been around since the beginning of time and only in the last ten years has the United States woken up. The sad story is they are falling back asleep. I’m not trying to confrontational in this blog session; I am simply presenting my own opinions. As I respect your opinions in that maybe punishing an entire state for the thousands of terrorists that hail from their country is wrong; I stand by what I presented.
In response to your other question “if we are to penalize states and many people for the acts of a few, how has our “special relationship” with the UK endured over the decades? I think first the United States needs to get serious with the issue, as stated previously the American people hadn’t taken terrorism seriously. What the US needs to do is use the tools they have been using to track terrorist finances and go after the folks involved. We need to take ownership and track down the fundraisers’ and gun-runners and prosecute, if needed and warranted extradite the accused for prosecution in the UK. That alone would be a deterrent; I believe our friends across the pond would consider that a sign of good faith and our steadfast friendship would remain intact.

Mr. Palin, my intent is not to anger the rest of the world that already dislikes our freedoms or our way of life. My proposal is more or less a cause and effect approach. If we suspend immigration by people who live in those countries, it will cause those countries to either step up or realistically start combating terrorism. The suspension of immigration can, as it was in the past be a temporary fix for a certain amount of time or until real action is being taken. If the countries identified don’t, then we can start holding foreign aid over there head. Right or wrong we should start seeing results. We can track a cow with mad cow disease from the time of death to the location it was born, why can’t we track down a few wanted terrorists? The technology is there, the motivation is there, the problem is in my opinion some people don’t want us to track them down.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 22, 2010 @ 2:07 am

Samantha question? What was the Commission on PNRC?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 22, 2010 @ 5:20 am

Ms. Wacha:

In my judgment, very well done. In the following I have extracted pieces of what you have written and reframed within a typical management framework:

Vision: Increased community resilience to all hazards.

Mission: Public education that reflects regional risk and community-based engagement with those risks.

Purpose: Develop and deploy a menu of programs that can be adopted and implemented at the community and/or jurisdictional level that covers the complete range of hazards.

Strategy: It should include initiatives that engage members of the community at all ages and build a community that actively participates in all-hazards prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. From this perspective, these sub-programs could be matched to the community’s socioeconomic make-up and existing level of preparedness engagement. These programs would span all ages and include participants from neighborhoods to civic groups to local jurisdictions.

You then proceed to identify specific operational and tactical measures that can be implemented. As you identify each of these you discuss how they reinforce vision, mission, purpose, and strategy. You also begin to discuss how the operations and tactics are inter-related and inter-dependent.

It is especially important to note that you posted several hours before my Friday morning post — pushing grassroots participation, collaboration, and deliberation — appeared. You fully anticipated the need to create a community or neighborhood synthesis as you go about achieving your vision, mission, purpose, and strategy. This will not be easy. But almost anything else we do that does not build toward or unfold from this engagement will probably just produce meetings, paperwork, and illusion. (This is, by the way, an important aspect of the Hyogo Framework and Longstaff et al paper linked at the close of last Friday’s post and the new National Academy study of community resilience linked far above.)

Another note that will sound personal, but is intended to be much more than personal: You actually “listened” to previous writings and responded in a way that demonstrated how you had listened to others (including me). Not just in the Pace responses, but in most “engagement” at this blog and in our society this listening, confirming what you have heard, and building on what others have offered can be rare. This technique or, better, discipline is absolutely essential if we are to have any hope of implementing your strategy.

My schedule has required me to write very quickly. I am sure I have not given sufficient attention. But please hear considerable enthusiasm for what you have outlined. Thank you.

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October 22, 2010 @ 5:26 am

[…] may have also read last week’s post on resilience.  You can review the dialogue in the comment section of last Friday’s post. (It is a long string with over 50 […]

Comment by Danielle O'Mara

October 22, 2010 @ 11:25 am

In order to build resiliency among Americans, the government needs to share more with the public. The public needs to be informed. They don’t need to be given all the intimate details however they need to be aware of the pressing issues that are threatening this country.

In America the Resilient, the 9/11 Commission stated that intelligence had been collected over the years leading up to the 9/11 attacks that reveled that terrorists were interested in using passenger airliners as weapons. The citizens in local communities are the first responders. Take for instance, the heroic passengers on Flight 93. Once they knew the severity of the situation, they stepped into action to prevent ever more devastation by intercepting the hijackers. The detrimental effects of 9/11 could have decreased if the American people had been made aware of the intelligence that had been collected regarding commercial airline planes. Unfortunately, the events that took place on 9/11 still would have occurred however the destruction that was made that day could have been lessened. “If you see something, say something” has been imbedded in every American’s head. At the end of the day, it’s the American people who are out in the streets. If American’s received more information from the Federal government, they could actually be extremely helpful to the defense of our nation through any catastrophic event.

“If U.S. history is a guide, people will respond to the call of service. They only need to be asked” (Flynn, pg.2). This is such a simple statement and yet if the American people were asked to respond to the call of services the outpour of support and help would be truly profound.

Fear of the unknown. Many Americans, including myself fear terrorism because we don’t know much about it. We can only depend on the media to feed us the information. In order to build up resiliency among Americans, the government must be willing to share information. The people need to hear the truth. Yes, it is scary to hear the truth, but once this initial shock hits, the fear will subside. The fear that was once there will be replaced with unity and strength. These are two things Al Qaeda does not want to see happen. No matter what, Americans need to know that if/when another catastrophic event occurs we will bounce back.

“While it is convenient to describe preparedness a critical and present, albeit vague, gap that has been made obvious by the terrorist attacks of 2001, the description is hollow with a framework (2010, pg. 1). What is everyone’s role? We need to clarify everyone’s role, from the president down to the civilian in a small town. Preparedness is and should be a repetitive cycle. As technology changes, climes changes and as people change, so should our preparedness plans. In A Strategy of Resilience, Palin wrote, “The pace of change has accelerated. We have much more virtual proximity to- and real dependence on-decisions and actions occurring well outside the direct influence of the United States” (Palin, pg. 4). This is something we must also embrace. The United States is a major power player in the world. We are involved with countries, politically, economically and socially. We must realize that what happens in other countries will affect us. It might not always be direct but we need to take this into consideration. Looking outside the scope will help increase our resilience as well.

Collaboration will be a huge factor in building up resiliency. Collaborations between the public and private sector are crucial to the future of this country. Our government cannot be run by a bureaucratic model. We must learn from the private sector in that respect. Collaboration with the American citizens is also important. The American people are the ultimate first responders. Federal, state and local law enforcement must also work together. The federal agencies have the power to gather all forms of intelligence and information. This should be utilized among all levels of law enforcement.

An example of collaboration would be if federal agencies share the intelligence they receive with local law enforcement. Local law enforcement would be able to create a comprehensive and organized plan. From there, local law enforcement can share this plan with members of the community. If a catastrophic event occurs, the damage will not be as detrimental. Once again, resiliency is built up rather than demolished. The response time will also be faster. People would be more prepared because they were already made aware of potential threats.

Because of the initial collaborations, recovery will be more effective. Local hospitals, emergency response units, shelters, etc will be prepared. They could make sure that there is enough resources available if/when a catastrophic event occurs. Resiliency will increase because the confidence among the emergency response teams as well as the members of the community will have a general understanding of what to do in times of crisis.

I think the “basin of attraction” model developed by Brian Walker is a great example on how the United States can build up resiliency. The general idea of the “basin of attraction is, “The narrower and shallower the basin, the more likely turbulence will cause the system to spill over its boundaries and become an entirely different system” (Palin, pg. 17). As of right now our country can be compared to a champagne coupe, “just a little turbulence and all is lost”. We need to build up our basin. This can be done by collaboration, information sharing, strong management. A red wine goblet should be our ultimate goal. The basin of a red wine goblet can effectively accommodate turbulence. The stronger the turbulence, the better the red wine goblet can handle it.

It is also important to note, “In homeland security we have been much more focused on resisting change than adopting resilience”. (Palin, pg. 18). If we do not embrace change we are only causing more harm to our country. We are only setting ourselves back. The terrorists will always be two steps ahead. IF we cannot accept change, resilience will fail.

Comment by Nick Levesque

October 22, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

As shown through history the resiliency of our country and its people after tragic events has been one of its most notable qualities. After the tragic events of 9/11 Federal, State, City, and private sector organizations came together with the community for relief efforts after the most devastating attack on American soil. Several years later in the devastating wake left by Hurricane Katrina we came together again to help those who had lost everything. As recent as this year our resiliency was shown again in the efforts taken to clean up the Gulf after the massive oil spill, that devastated the environment in that area and the lively hoods of those dependant on harvesting what a healthy costal environment has to offer. This resiliency is continually challenged by terrorist organizations that wish to test it. These terrorist try to strike fear into us, in hopes that it will work and our government will overreact in ways that will cause self destruction.
One thing that we have to realize is that another event will challenge our resiliency is not a possibility but a certainty; it is just a matter of when. One of the readings this week that really summed up all of our past discussions and readings was the article “America the Resilient”. This article talked a good deal about the necessary partnership between the government (federal-local) and the public sector, as well as the relationships between government agencies. These partnerships are crucial in our fight for a secure nation. In the America the Resilient article it talks about how the passengers of flight 93 came together to overtake their hijacker, because they were informed as to what had happened to the three other planes. This raises the question as to why the public is not informed more, and if they were would there be more instances of this type of spirit from our citizens. Some can argue that is the responsibility of the government to protect its people but I feel it is the responsibility of all of us. As someone who is in law enforcement I understand the importance of the necessary partnership with the public. They are the ones who report incidents and relay facts to responding officers. Without this first responders can enter into a situation blind.
In the “National Preparedness Guidelines” the measures to be taken by Federal, State and local governments in response to natural-manmade disasters and terrorist attacks were outlined. This documents allows for emergency response plans to be implemented to recover from threats that harm our well being. One of the parts of the NPG that I found to be very interesting is that it allows for some flexibility in the implementation of these plans. Since not every plan will work in every situation and the threats that we face are ever changing and unpredictable it is crucial to be able to mold a plan, so that it best fits every situation.
Lastly in the paper written by Mr. Palin “Resilience: The Grand Strategy” he mentions that we must prepare for the unknown. I could not agree more, the threats that we face today do not come from a specific country, rather from radical groups that seek safe havens in different locations. In preparing for the unknown we must be ready for anything, it makes it harder to identify your enemy when they are one that is ever changing to stay under the radar and ahead of the curve. A quote from Palin’s paper that really stuck out to me was: “The environment in which the United States finds itself has changed dramatically since 1946. Since, at least, the mid-1970s the speed of change has been rapid and the direction erratic. We have not adapted gracefully to the change. We resist changing our national life patterns.” Change is something we have discussed a lot in this class, and it is something that is inevitable. This quote is true in saying that we resist changing our national life patters, shortly after 9/11 new travel regulations were implemented and though they were put in place as a protective measure many viewed them as an inconvenience. We are facing an enemy that is ever changing and searching for new ways to carry out their objectives and we must meet this change and stay ahead of it so that we can achieve our goal of a secure homeland.

Our resiliency is going to continue to get challenged in years to come, and all threats that affect our country are not going away anytime soon, if ever. As a country we must come together and work together to provide for our defense. Each person doing their part will strengthen our means do this. By having these partnerships working together in a constant fashion I hope we can achieve that spirit the arrives in “us” following a tragic event, that sometimes seems to dissipate later down the road. That spirit is where our true resiliency is shown in how we recover from catastrophes.

Comment by Debra Wilson

October 22, 2010 @ 8:08 pm

It is not difficult to measure America’s resiliency because its strength has been proven throughout history. After tragic events, the nation as a whole came together to support one another. On 9/11, a vast amount of people from different occupations, cultures, religions, races, and social status came together to bring forth relief. This was the same result from Hurricane Katrina.

We have been able to withstand so many attacks and not one of them have defeated us. It is expected that more attacks will come, however it is difficult to know if this country as a whole will be able to absorb those attacks or if they will be “game changers” as President Obama has mentioned. I do not believe that America’s resiliency needs to be questioned, rather our level of prevention should.

We need to be prepared for the next attack, because as previously stated we might be able to absorb it or it may be a “game changer”. It is best to expect the worst, so that way no matter what comes our way we will be ready. I know it is nearly impossible to prepare ourselves for everything, but we must try. Preparing ourselves for “game changers” may be the best approach but as President Obama had mentioned there are a variety of “game changers” and we may not know which one to expect.

The American spirit is strong and has withstanded many tragic events. This is because we as the American people have a great deal of pride in our country and ourselves. The saying “together we stand, divided we fall” can be used to represent the American people and that was proven after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. We banded together and made it through those tragedies. The only way we will be able to survive other tragedies including the “game changers” is if our awareness is increased and our prevention methods are improved.

Comment by Samantha Gagliardi

October 23, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

Mr Cumming,

I am sorry that was a typo. I meant to say PNA(Project for the New American Century). Im sure you know about it, but is was basically to promote American global leadership.

Comment by Samantha Gagliardi

October 23, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

Ok one last time.


Sorry, I got it this time!

Comment by Erik Grutzner

October 23, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

As Americans we are victims of our own success. The resilience that was on display in previous generations was not a conscious choice or a personality trait; it was necessary for survival. Without it, the difficult times would have overwhelmed us. I believe this is why we sometimes hear pundits wondering if our best days are behind us. Our enemies believe this to be so, and it fuels their attacks on us. Stephen Flynn, in his article “America the Resilient” points to this when he states “unlike during World War II, when the entire U.S. population was mobilized, much of official Washington today treats citizens as helpless targets or potential victims”. Are we a paper tiger or a sleeping giant? Flynn’s piece should reinstall the confidence and security of any American who reads it, because it should remind us of what we are capable of from what we have done.

On a local level, Hurricane Katrina tested our resiliency as much, if not more than, anything this country has faced. I say this because it exposed an obvious flaw in planning and preparedness, especially coming so quickly behind 9/11. Our government had failed to protect us yet again. If there had ever been a situation more ripe for throwing in the towel, or demanding wholesale change in their government by the people, I do not know of it. And yet, there was never any serious consideration to giving up or abandoning New Orleans, even though it remains below sea level. And as vilified as Federal, State and local authorities were, our system remains.

While I believe natural disasters are a greater threat to human life and an “all hazards” approach is necessary for planning and preparedness, resiliency is rarely tested by them. Despite the high casualties, natural disasters are expected. In fact, many people blame the victims of disasters for living so close to the potential for a natural disaster. Terrorism, however, is viewed as potentially preventable, yet randomly choosing its victims.

When I consider resiliency, I worry about our new set of social guidelines. As discussed previously, resiliency is a type of social elasticity. The strength of an elastic substance is not from an individual strand or thread, but multiple threads sharing the burden in full cooperation. This is not the image I have of how people in our societies are interacting today. Selfishness and self-preservation seem more prevalent today than they were in the mid 20th century – a period many would refer to as the United States’ “Golden Age”.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

October 24, 2010 @ 4:46 am

Since my quick Friday morning response to Ms. Wacha we have heard from Danielle O’Mara, Nick Levesque, Debra Wilson and Erik Grutzner. Further, I did not respond to Samantha Gagliardi’s Thursday evening post.

In this collection of comments two recurring issues can be discerned, sometimes in tension:

Is resilience innate or a purposeful outcome?

What is the appropriate role of government?

How the first question is answered will significantly impact the answer given the second.

Resilience: Innate or Purposeful?

I am reminded of the old debate between whether intelligence is a matter of nature or nurture. It is reasonably clear to me that intelligence and resilience are outcomes of both.

By virtue of its size, diversity, wealth, and a constitutional system that has produced a broad and deep “basin of attraction” the United States as a whole is profoundly resilient. But almost all of these characteristics have been purposefully developed over time. To preserve these resilient characteristics requires ongoing attention and choice.

This is especially the case in view of at least three factors that are shifting some traditional sources of resilience:

1. The population of the United States is increasingly concentrated in dense urban areas. This greater concentration narrows the geographic basin of attraction.

2. All of our populations, urban or not, are increasingly dependent on extended, complicated, interdependent (and increasingly vulnerable?) systems of critical infrastructure and supply chains. There is less redundancy and fewer local sources of supply. Again the basin of attraction has been narrowed.

3. The threat scope — natural, accidental, and intentional — seems to be increasing. The impact of any particular threat is often amplified by the population, supply chain, and technology factors.

My argument is that while we should certainly recognize and appreciate our innate resiliency, there is plenty of cause to strategically and thoughtfully engage this legacy in order to maintain and strengthen it in regard to these new risks. We have I perceive, rather mindlessly, been shifting from a red wine goblet to a champagne coupe. (This is an analogy from the close of the reading: Resilience: The Grand Strategy.)

Appropriate Role of Government?

Our constitutional system depends on significant citizen participation, collaboration, and deliberation. This was a strategic choice that has over time, I perceive, produced an innate strength.

For reasons I do not pretend to fully understand — and are well outside my ability to analyze here — we seem to be in a period where citizen participation is increasing, but collaboration and deliberation are decreasing. I hope that what this suggests is we are early in the swirl of turbulence in a complex adaptive system. If so, we will see our system self-organize around meaning as more information and feedback is processed by the system. As this happens we will see more collaboration and, eventually, effective deliberation.

As I have previously argued, the sources of information available to us are extensive. These sources are governmental, academic, corporate, and otherwise. There is also a great deal of mis-information flowing through the system as is typical especially in a period of turbulence. If the attractor of meaning is strong enough and the basin of attraction is broad and deep enough, the swirl will eventually organize around meaningful information.

There is a widespread desire for clarity and, perhaps, simplification that does not — at least, yet — fit the context.

So far, I perceive the government has been playing its role reasonably well. A few years ago I was concerned the government might be trying to narrow the basin of attraction through overdone command and control. But this trend has — both purposefully and through the friction encountered by most change — been reduced and perhaps even reversed.

It seems to me that resilience is now less an issue of government engagement than citizen engagement. Government can help or hurt, but any real progress will be made (or not) at the individual, family, and neighborhood level. Resilience also depends on our shared ability to collaborate — work together — and then deliberate — mindfully choose together. The evidence here is mixed. Each generation makes this choice, often more than once. My generation (I am a late baby-boomer) has not invested very effectively in collaboration and shared deliberation. We have probably withdrawn more than we have contributed to the multi-generational account. It is unclear how our successors will choose.

In terms of resilience we are, essentially, in an ongoing process of choosing whether our society will be analogous to a deep broad wine goblet or a narrow, shallow champagne coupe. Given our constitutional system, what the government will do (or not)will reflect the choices (or non-choices) “we the people” make. We are, I perceive, in the midst of arguing over our choice.


October 24, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

The role of our government and preventing future attacks is an issue that I think we can all agree will be an ongoing struggle. We cannot predict the future, but we can certainly try and attempt to foil an attack. It is a matter of intelligence sharing, cooperating agencies, and assistance from the public and other governmental agencies worldwide. Just as stated in the September 2007 National Preparedness Guidelines, “It recognizes that preparedness requires a coordinated national effort involving every level of government, as well as the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and individual citizens.” In this week’s discussion with our Introduction to Homeland Security course, resiliency and preparedness is a matter of national security and how successful we in adverting a terrorist attack.

In your piece of Resilience: The Grand Strategy, you discuss the basic features of the principal risks to the United States. In that you state, “According to the NIS there are four nation-states that present a ‘challenge to U.S. interests.’ These are Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia. None present the near peer level of competition offered by the Soviet Union immediately after WWII. Individually or in concert these competitors can constrain the U.S. But even in unlikely combination these nation-states do not present the clear-and-present danger the Stalinist superpower seemed to threaten.” How do we react to each of these challenges when each presents the same type of risk unique to one another? I feel that although challenges do present similar problems we have to address each one differently.

I enjoyed your post, Mr. Palin, and in “absorbing” a terrorist attack is a matter of how effectively we deal with the disaster in its aftermath. 9/11 was an attack that no one expected, but we saw how this country and other countries around the world mitigated this effect in the aftermath of the disaster. Things have really changed since 9/11 and I do not think it is because we “absorbed” it per say but we changed security measures to mitigate future attacks.

Comment by jessica lopez

November 1, 2010 @ 4:30 am


President Obama said America is resilient and another terrorist attack on America can be withstood by Americans because the U.S. has proven it is resilient, e.g., 9/11 attack and our recovery. President’s underlying thought is that there will be more attacks and these will be successful. So where does that leave Americans? Bipartisan Policy Center responded that weapons of mass destruction are not only a target for terrorists but their utmost intention to acquire. If they recruit bioscientists, they will unlock the necessary information to develop and use biological weapons. The success of such potential is realistic due to global proliferation. But the game plan will change if an American city is blown to pieces; so reads the unreadable between the lines of Obama’s statement. Homeland Security Affairs Journal talks about testing our resilience and factuality of where we would stand in such an event. A major blast will shift earth fault lines which will cause a Cat5 hurricane which will cause urban wildfires and then a pandemic 30 times stronger than H1N1. If this is not enough to worry about, they say that America should invest in prevention of terrorist attacks of massive weapons of destruction.
I agree with other people who have responded to this statement, and rate WMD defense as the number one priority against the war on terrorism. I am o the strong opinion that we should be spending money and intelligence on bringing down Bin Ladin once and for all. This is preparedness against a disaster, and if he is not there to lead then perhaps the strategy will weaken the movement. As long as he is enabled, so too will be the power of fear that empowers his followers against the free world. He is their poster child and most Americans like me are not afraid to face him and his bullies head on. We need to fight terror with a strong arm and an authoritative voice. We need to stress our strength as a nation to combat the terrorists who want to destroy life, not nurture it. In so doing, we are stressing our adhesiveness as a nation of people who will stand up to the enemy and fight back. The first step is bringing down the leader. Everyone knows that; so my question is “what are we waiting for?”
Bloggers said we need to be prepared and the readings say we Americans want to know how to be prepared. So we are supposed to deal with the present risks and assess them as best as we can. The comment by Jeff about “telling ourselves we are okay when we are not could lead to peril” is our biggest weakness. Complacency is our biggest enemy. We need to ask President Obama to strategically take control of the terrorist insurgency through military action, and stop leaving it to fate. We need a leader who will fight for our freedom and security, not lead us into complacency by boasting of our resilience.


Comment by Mia

November 5, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

Resilient implies a communities ability (an achieved level of attainment) to “bounce back” (or the rapidity to do so) after a disaster (post-disaster stages). Resilience originates both from internal motivation and the stimulus of private or public policy decisions that can be labeled as two distinguished and contrasting types: inherited resilience and adaptive resilience. When an external shock occurs, inherent resilience communities have the ordinary ability to deal with crises by substituting other inputs for those that were curtailed; therefore capabilities that are not damaged or eroded can be implemented in the disaster aftermath. Whereas, adaptive resilience communities have the ability to maintain function on the basis of ingenuity or extra effort in crisis situations by increasing input substitution possibilities; therefore the efficiency frontier is pushed outward, with or without help of any investment. Although, Americans may exhibit both the different types of resilience, the key here is our melting pot of citizens historically have the ability to “bounce Back”, regardless of the situation.

I agree with the Presidents statement that “America is resilient and another terrorist attack on America can be withstood by Americans because the U.S. has proven it is resilient, e.g., 9/11 attack and our recovery”. We have have shown sustainability after a disaster: long-term survival and non-decreasing quality of life. We learn the areas of our community which have excessive levels of hazard exposure that may affect the recovery in the post disaster phase; thus put procedures in place to protect critical infrastructure for sustainability. We also identify the types of infrastructures that have inadequate construction methods, and recognize institutions (households, businesses, and government agencies) which have inadequate resources and operational patterns that make them unable to recover effectively. More so, we use the disaster to change people’s beliefs about their hazard vulnerabilities in order to reduce vulnerabilities with hazard adjustments that are most suitable for their community. By doing so, we develop effective mechanisms through community support to change policies with a commitment for implementing those policies effectively.

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Homeland Security Watch » Resilience: How much can we absorb?…

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Homeland Security Watch » Resilience: How much can we absorb?

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