Yesterday Secretary Napolitano gave a “State of Homeland Security” address at The George Washington University. Her prepared remarks are available from the DHS website.
I expect most news stories have focused on the replacement of the color coded alert system. Good riddance. Glad it is being replaced.
More substantively there is quite a bit of language — and amplified attention — to the role of the “whole of the nation” or “whole community” in preparedness, protection, response, and recovery. Some excerpts:
Despite our title, the Department of Homeland Security does not possess sole responsibility for securing the homeland within the Federal government…
But the homeland security enterprise extends far beyond DHS and the federal government. As I said, it requires not just a “whole of government,” but a “whole of nation” approach. In some respects, local law enforcement, community groups, citizens, and the private sector play as much of a role in homeland security as the federal government. That is why I like to say that “homeland security starts with hometown security…”
A study just last year study found that, between 1999 and 2009, more than 80 percent of foiled terrorist plots in the United States were thwarted because of observations from law enforcement or the general public…
And so, every day at DHS, we are doing everything we can to get more information, more tools, and more resources out of Washington, DC, and into the hands of the men and women on the front lines.
Which the Secretary strongly suggests is where each of us happen to be.
Sort of related… Wednesday afternoon during rush hour the Washington DC area was hit hard by quickly falling ice and snow. It turned into a nightmare commute home for many. (See Washington Post story) Evidently tens-of-thousands were surprised. This is despite the metro area’s horrendous traffic in the best weather, despite last year’s snowpocalypse, despite the breathless warning of weather people all day long, and despite the real surprise of significant snow on Wednesday morning.
Last night we heard snow-thunder across the National Capital Region. In a more superstitious era someone might have suggested the storm god was slapping his forehead in frustration with how so many could miss all the warnings.
The Secretary is right to push information, tools, and resources out of Washington. For this to make a difference the rest of us will have to accept our responsibility to pay attention, plan ahead, and practice good judgment.