Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 6, 2011

Nuclear Apples to Citizen Oranges?

Filed under: Budgets and Spending — by Arnold Bogis on December 6, 2011

While certainly not surprising, the juxtaposition of the following stories concerning the issue of federal funding of particular national/homeland security issues puts into context (for me at least) where the notion of “resilience” lies in our national security hierarchy.

Nuclear apples first: apparently there has been some consternation regarding a Ploughshares report that estimated “$700 billion in spending “on nuclear weapons and related programs during the next ten years.”” The kerfuffle led to opinions from the Washington Post and bloggers (on a side note, one of the commentators on the blog is science historian Alex Wellerstein, who not only makes the great point that the yearly average for maintaining our nuclear arsenal is roughly equivalent to the budget of the Manhattan Project, but posts some incredibly wonky/historically fascinating nuclear tidbits on his own blog: http://nuclearsecrecy.com/blog/). Whether the exact address is closer to $200 billion or $700 billion is not of great importance for my point, rather note the general neighborhood.

Citizen oranges: on a recent “Disaster Zone” post, Eric Holdeman shares an email written by an emergency manager from Alabama who expressed some concern about funding levels for Citizen Corps and related programs.This individual’s comments came after hearing FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino speak at a conference:

The Honorable Richard Serino pointed out that 33 billion was spent to improve infrastructure for search and rescue and communications over the last 10 years.

I do not accept the current financial environment as an excuse to cut Citizens Corps funding; not when FEMA and DHS are adamant about citizen preparedness.

This is a great opportunity for FEMA and DHS to put the money where their mouth is. I can assure each of you citizen preparedness is significantly cheaper than communications infrastructure or search & rescue training, mobilization and equipment.

The argument concerning nuclear weapons is in the neighborhood of hundreds of billions over ten years.  Communication equipment for first responders received tens of billions over ten years (including the flush years following 9/11). For FY 2011, Citizen Corps was allocated just about $10 million dollars.

Is resilience truly considered a priority by the federal government? If so, does the current operating definition include private citizens or is it limited to government programs, critical infrastructure, and other easily quantifiable categories?

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 6, 2011 @ 10:56 am

Actually few in the Executive Branch including the NSS Resilience Office, DHS and FEMA or elsewhere understand the term one that I think is excellent but some disagree.
As to maintenance of the nuclear arsenal, it is more accurate to estimate at least $1 Trillion to clean up enviromentally the bomb complex. What the eventually direct and indirect costs of nuclear power world wide end up being still largely unknown. It is not safety issues that stopped new reactor construction in the USA after 1980 but the costs of construction. Wall Street has voted against nuclear power.

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