Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 14, 2010

Growing more homeland security ideas

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on December 14, 2010

On Friday, the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security  will graduate its 29th and 30th master’s degree class.

Here are the titles of the graduates’ theses (and a bit more information) to illustrate the topics covered.

Many of the theses — adding to what we know, think, and believe about homeland security — will be available through the NPS Dudley Knox library in a few weeks.

Another list (for the previous graduating class) was published in homeland security watch last September.


1. Countering violent extremism: the challenge and the opportunity. This thesis explores the application of “soft power” — the government’s ability to mitigate recruitment and radicalization by attraction rather than coercion — as a way to prevent homegrown terrorism.

2. Coast guard counter-intelligence: adopting the Army’s conceptual model. The thesis looks at how the Coast Guard’s counter-intelligence program would benefit from adopting aspects of the Army counter-intelligence structure.

3. Managing the aviation insider threat. Since 9/11/01, aviation security has focused on threats from passengers.  This thesis proposes steps to reduce security vulnerabilities associated with aviation employees.

4. Countering Islamic radicalization and Al-Shabaab recruitment within the ethnic Somali population of the United States. This thesis presents an argument for addressing domestic radicalization by modifying law enforcement best practices for stemming youth gang recruitment and initiation.

5. Improving the security of the national aeronautical domain: adopting an intelligence-led, risk-based strategy and partnership. The threat to the nation’s aeronautical domain can be reduced by more effectively using intelligence to drive aviation security strategy at the federal and local levels.

6. Local jurisdictions and active shooters: building networks, building capacities. Small unit active shooter attacks — like Mumbai and Beslan — demonstrate the difficulties local law enforcement face defending against multiple attackers and multiple locations.  The thesis describes how smaller jurisdictions can use networks to build capabilities needed to deal with such attacks.

7. Tailoring screening technology to prevent or deter terrorists from attacking commercial ferries with improvised explosive devices. The thesis evaluates current explosive detection technologies that can be applied to passenger/vehicle screening operations for commercial passenger ferries.

8. Examining the impact and effectiveness of behavior detection programs in the transportation sector. This thesis examines evidence about the effectiveness of behavior detection programs.  It asks if there are better ways to use the science and funding supporting such programs.

9. Strategy for upgrading preparedness in small and rural communities to meet national preparedness standards. The smallest units of government in the least populated areas of the country are struggling to meet national preparedness guidelines.  The thesis suggests moving from the current hierarchical response framework to a more networked approach that brings resources as needed across government boundaries.

10.  Enhancing preparedness adoption and compliance in the federal law enforcement community through financial incentives. The federal law enforcement community has not adopted the level of emergency preparedness prescribed by national directives. Preparedness grants have helped state, local, and tribal agencies improve their readiness.  The thesis asks whether federal preparedness efforts would also improve by targeting financial incentives at federal law enforcement agencies.

11. The California law enforcement community’s intelligence-led policing capacity. Intelligence led policing is intended to help California law enforcement agencies prevent crime and terrorism.  The thesis assess that capability among California agencies.

12. Altered standards of care: an analysis of existing federal and state government guidelines. Existing “standards of care” planning guidance needs to include triggers and a guarantee of care minimums designed to ensure coordination, consistency, and fair allocation of scarce medical resources during a catastrophic mass casualty event.

13. On balance without compromise: leveraging the National Guard for the 21st century security environment. The United States is facing a severe mismatch between its national security commitments and its resources.  There is a need to address and balance defense responsibilities for major combat, reconstruction, stability and other operations.  National Guard leaders have argued their component has the perfect characteristics to be leveraged for balance between the homeland defense and the homeland security missions.  However, Department of Defense strategies, doctrines and authorities limit DoD’s ability to use the Guard effectively.  The thesis proposes solutions for overcoming those obstacles.

14. Addressing the effects of emergency worker absenteeism during biological outbreaks and natural disasters. There is a likelihood of emergency service workforce shortages during natural disasters and biological outbreaks.  The thesis examines options for reducing and managing the consequences of those shortages.

15. Preventing bulk cash and weapons smuggling into Mexico: Establishing an outbound policy on the southwest border for Customs and Border Protection. On the Southwest Border, the drug trafficking organizations  are continuing to smuggle bulk cash and weapons into Mexico and border violence continues to increase.  While US border authorities routinely inspect people and items coming into the United States, much less is done to inspect items leaving the country.  This thesis describes the policy option available for outbound border operations.

16. Social media integration into state-operated fusion centers and local law enforcement: potential uses and challenges. Social media, if leveraged appropriately, could enhance communication among fusion centers, law enforcement, and private citizens to better detect and deter terrorism. This research explores potential benefits and implementation challenges of integrating social media into fusion centers.

17. Closing the loop on visa security: a case for change. Responsibility for issuing U.S. visas is currently divided between the U.S. Department of State  and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  This results in a duplication of effort, unclear responsibilities, an increased need for communication and collaboration between government departments, and a loss of mission focus.  In an effort to increase security, streamline the immigration process, and address identified problems, this thesis recommends that the visa issuing function should be exclusively the responsibility of, and performed by, DHS.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

December 14, 2010 @ 7:45 am

Thanks! So what are the total numbers of Grads so far and any idea how or what they have used this program for in their careers?

Comment by john morton

December 17, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

In answer to the Cumming comment, a good place to start is the Center for Homeland Defense and Security Education: The Key to Homeland Security Leadership, 2002-2008 Report (Monterey, CA: U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, 2009). That lists thesis titles and where grads went with them after returning to the field up to 2009. Very impressive.

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