The September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack profoundly affected the US. It shifted and broadened the purpose of homeland security from a general “counterterrorism strategy to a national strategy to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from natural, technological/accidental and adversarial/human caused threats and hazards” (Comiskey, 2018, p. 30). This recency of this change and emerging response from the academic community, according to Comiskey (2018), led to confusion about the homeland security mission areas. Many assume that counterterrorism work is the only direction.
However, homeland security focuses on all the aspects that have the potential to threaten the nation. For example, the recent challenges are “cyber terrorism, transnational crime, nuclear proliferation, climate change, and a rapidly evolving techno-industrial society” (Comiskey, 2018, p. 39). Thus, to successfully face these challenges, aside from defending against terrorism, homeland security mission areas include but are not limited to intelligence and warning, critical infrastructure, border and transportation security, and emergency preparedness (McEntire, 2018).
Homeland security has several major disciplines to cover these mission areas, including law enforcement, emergency medical service, health services, fire services, emergency dispatch, and emergency management (McEntire, 2018). Emergency management, in particular, has one of the most significant roles in homeland security agencies’ work direction and effectiveness. It covers five steps, including prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery, with every phase accomplishing the planning and creating the framework for coping and avoiding hazards (McEntire, 2018).
It becomes clear that every operation’s effort and the number of implemented resources are considerable. Thus, many US taxpayers have questioned the all-hazard focus of homeland security over the years. However, according to McEntire (2018), the foundation of the all-hazard approach is accounting for the whole scope of the emergencies comprehensively and mitigating the risks and consequences by building the infrastructure of management and resources. This system can then be universally used to respond to any disaster. Therefore, in theory, such an approach is more cost-effective and logical for the US government to implement following the recent theoretical data in the field. However, according to Comiskey (2018), this field of academia is still emerging and limited.
Therefore, the full scope of the consequences for any particular strategy used by homeland security is unknown. The updates will be necessary and likely to be eventually and gradually implemented when new challenges mentioned above arise, as seen in the past with 9/11.
Comiskey, J. (2018). Theory for homeland security. Journal of Homeland Security Education, 7, 29-45.
McEntire, D. A. (2018). Introduction to homeland security: Understanding terrorism prevention and emergency management. John Wiley & Sons.