Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 5, 2012

Defense strategy and homeland security

Earlier today the President signed out and the Secretary of Defense released new strategic guidance for the Department of Defense. Following are my quick-takes on those aspects of the document  most closely related to homeland security.

Page 1:

The demise of Osama bin Laden and the capturing or killing of many other senior al-Qa?’ida  leaders have rendered the group far less capable. However, al-Qa?’ida and its affiliates remain active in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. More broadly,violent extremists will continue to threaten U.S. interests, allies, partners, and the homeland.The primary loci of these threats are South Asia and the Middle East. With the diffusion of destructive technology, these extremists have the potential to pose catastrophic threats thatcould directly affect our security and prosperity. For the foreseeable future, the UnitedStates will continue to take an active approach to countering these threats by monitoring theactivities of non-state threats worldwide, working with allies and partners to establishcontrol over ungoverned territories, and directly striking the most dangerous groups and individuals when necessary.

Page 2:

In the Middle East, the Arab Awakening presents both strategic opportunities and challenges. Regime changes, as well as tensions within and among states under pressure toreform, introduce uncertainty for the future. But they also may result in governments that,over the long term, are more responsive to the legitimate aspirations of their people, and aremore stable and reliable partners of the United States.Our defense efforts in the Middle East will be aimed at countering violent extremists anddestabilizing threats, as well as upholding our commitment to allies and partner states.

Page 3:

To enable economic growth and commerce, America, working in conjunction with allies and partners around the world, will seek to protect freedom of access throughout the globalcommons ?– those areas beyond national jurisdiction that constitute the vital connective tissue of the international system. Global security and prosperity are increasingly dependent on the free flow of goods shipped by air or sea. State and non-state actors pose potential threats to access in the global commons, whether through opposition to existing norms orother anti-access approaches. Both state and non-state actors possess the capability and intent to conduct cyber espionage and, potentially, cyber attacks on the United States, with possible severe effects on both our military operations and our homeland. Growth in the number of space-faring nations is also leading to an increasingly congested and contested space environment, threatening safety and security. The United States will continue to lead global efforts with capable allies and partners to assure access to and use of the global commons, both by strengthening international norms of responsible behavior and by maintaining relevant and interoperable military capabilities.

Page 4:

Acting in concert with other means of national power, U.S. military forces must continue to hold al-Qa?’ida and its affiliates and adherents under constant pressure, wherever they may be. Achieving our core goal of disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al-Qa?’ida and preventing Afghanistan from everbeing a safe haven again will be central to this effort. As U.S. forces draw down in Afghanistan, our global counter terrorism efforts will become more widely distributedand will be characterized by a mix of direct action and security force assistance. Reflecting lessons learned of the past decade, we will continue to build and sustain tailored capabilities appropriate for counter terrorism and irregular warfare. We will also remain vigilant to threats posed by other designated terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah.

Page 5:

Accordingly, DoD will continue to work with domestic and international allies and partners and invest in advanced capabilities to defend its networks, operational capability, and resiliency in cyberspace and space….

U.S. forces willcontinue to defend U.S. territory from direct attack by state and non-state actors. We willalso come to the assistance of domestic civil authorities in the event such defense fails or in case of natural disasters, potentially in response to a very significant or even catastrophic event. Homeland defense and support to civil authorities require strong,steady?–state force readiness, to include a robust missile defense capability. Threats to the homeland may be highest when U.S. forces are engaged in conflict with an adversary abroad.

Page 6:

The nation has frequently called upon its Armed Forces to respond to a range of situations that threaten the safety and well-being of its citizens and those of other countries. U.S. forces possess rapidly deployable capabilities, including airlift and sealift, surveillance, medical evacuation and care, and communications that can be invaluable in supplementing lead relief agencies, by extending aid to victims of natural or man-made disasters, both at home and abroad. DoD will continue to develop joint doctrine and military response options to prevent and, if necessary, respond to mass atrocities. U.S. forces will also remain capable of conducting non-combatant evacuation operations for American citizens overseas on an emergency basis.

You may see more.   The document includes considerable attention to WMD and cyber threats not excerpted above.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

January 5, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

Phil! Would you argue that this new guidance supersedes other guidance, revises other guidance, supplements other guidance? In what ways does it break new ground or contradict existing guidance?

As always, who wrote it and who cleared it and is it specifically confined to DoD only? Will it be published in the official documents of the President? Federal Register? And does it have budget implications and foreshadow the STATE of the Union Address and FY 2013 Administration budget submission to Congress?

And was it circulated to key allies that might be impacted by it or other friendly nation states?

Why exactly was this guidance issued? Does it have mandates or deadlines? Does it reference any other baseline documents? Like the 25-30 existing National Strategies?

I know a fool may ask more questions than a wise man can answer!

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 5, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

Discussion of the strategy at:


I would advocate total withdrawal from NATO!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

January 6, 2012 @ 6:29 am

Bill: I am confident the document has significant budget implications. I was on a couple of the DOD-related teleconferences yesterday that were distracted by the money message. Otherwise not a direct response to your questions, but I probably read most documents of this sort rather like I read Paul’s epistles: Each standing alone offers a specific meaning in a particular context, each document is also one piece in a literary collection that suggests a general context, each and all have had (will have) implications and consequences — intended and unintended — depending on how they are interpreted and used by others. Which of the documents become influential and even canonical is tough to predict. Many sink never to be seen again. Others — originally obscure — become surprisingly fecund.

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 6, 2012 @ 7:06 am

All Presidential candidates but one have promised a high liklihood of a new preventive war with IRAN. So perhaps the cuts will prove unnecessary.

The Empire must preserve the far marches.

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 6, 2012 @ 7:09 am

Did you know that over 20% of the 050 budget account–National Security and defense–is not housed in DoD?

And by the account of some over 20% of the activities of the civil agencies support the military and DoD programs, functions, and activities.

Most of FEMA’s budget is 045–state and local support!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

January 6, 2012 @ 8:47 am

Bill: It was the genius of Hadrian to recognize that withdrawing from some far marches can also be a positive option. His decision to pull-back from Trajan’s Parthian victories (and elsewhere) almost certainly restored Imperial fortunes for the next century of better. I am not trying to make a direct analogy, but recognizing a range of analogies can help.

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 6, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

Phil! Agree and of course there was a wall north of Hadrian’s Wall in Brittania!

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