Earlier this week I was re-reading the DHS Strategic Plan (2012-2016). I perceived something — actually its absence — I had not noticed before.
Community involvement is, of course, a recurring mantra in the Strategic Plan and many other DHS policy, strategy, and operational documents. “Whole Community” is prominent in Mission 5: Ensuring Resilience to Disaster. Other missions include similar language. For example Mission 1: Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security has a goal to “Increase community participation in efforts to deter terrorists and other malicious actors and mitigate radicalization toward violence.”
A close reading of the Strategic Plan suggests the whole is made up of the following parts:
Private and Non-Profit Sectors
Faith Based organizations
All Segments of Society
Especially with those catch-all terms it’s not that my “absence” is excluded. But it is not given explicit attention. Certainly not priority.
What prominent place in the life of most Americans is not referenced?
Indirectly this is part of the private sector or non-profit-sector or local and state government or whatever other sector in which you work. But these “sectors” are abstractions. The workplace is a concrete — often literally glass, steel, and concrete — place. Yet the only time “workplace” is referenced in the Strategic Plan is with workplace standards for protecting intellectual property and “workplace wellness” programs for DHS employees.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Americans age 25-to-54 spend an average of 8.8 hours per day at work. This is a larger block than any other activity, much larger than any other non-sleeping activity surveyed.
Yet the places where we work are not regularly conceived or engaged as venues where homeland security priorities can be pursued.
There are exceptions. I am aware of a few. I welcome you highlighting successful exceptions in the comments.
The absence of the workplace from the DHS Strategy reveals a strategic perspective. It is another example of the disconnect between private and public domains. Clearly government is a place where homeland security is to be practiced. There is considerable effort to engage neighborhoods and sometimes schools. These are real places too, but much more public than private in their character.
Is a “community” — whole or not — a real place? It depends, in my experience, on the community and how an outsider approaches the putative community.
There are offices, distribution centers, power plants, factories and refineries, restaurants, hotels, retail stores and many more real places where each day the vast majority of Americans spend the majority of their waking hours. Most of these places feature a task-oriented culture with management processes already in place. Most of these places are self-interested in a reasonable level of safety, continuity, and resilience.
In my personal experience most of these places are wonderful contexts for the practical practice of homeland security.
There is a tendency for modern strategic thinking to be more comfortable with space than place. See battlespace and cyberspace, even Space Command. I am often an advocate for differentiating between Theater Command and Incident Command and perceive we give too little attention to the Big Picture. But it is not, of course, one or the other: it is a continuum.
Real risks, threats, vulnerabilities and consequences usually unfold in real places where people come and go everyday.
Interesting what you can miss even when it’s right in front of you. I’ve read that strategy a half-dozen times. Wonder what else is hiding in plain sight?