Notes from the Editor (Vol. 2, Iss. 3)

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Welcome to Volume 2, Issue Three of Homeland Security Affairs.

This issue is dedicated to the memory of Lacy Suiter. I believe Lacy would be embarrassed by the idea of dedicating an issue of anything to him. He was a man whose graciousness and modesty were evident whether he was in the presence of presidents or disaster victims. My favorite memory of Lacey – apropos of nothing in particular – was one evening after dinner, as he talked about his childhood days listening to the fireside radio chats of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lacy was a representative from another time in American history, a time when service to the public was a value to be honored and passed along to the next generation. Lacy lived that value.

This issue offers two formal tributes to Lacy. David O’Keeffe, who worked with Lacy at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, writes one of the articles. The second, by Eileen Sullivan, initially appeared in the Congressional Quarterly. We are grateful to that publication for permission to reprint the article.

In addition to offering this tribute to Lacy Suiter, we are pleased to be publishing a new selection of articles and essays, many of them under a special section on Strategic Planning.

In September 2004, Chechen terrorists struck School Number One in the Russian city of Beslan and killed more than 300 people, half of them children. Peter K. Forster, in his article “Beslan: Counterterrorism Incident Command Lessons Learned,”writes about the mistakes that were made preventing and then responding to the crisis. His article looks critically at the strategic and other issues that influenced the Russian response. Forster argues that the lessons from Beslan are applicable to a wide range of catastrophic events, not just terrorist incidents in schools.

Federalism is touted in the National Strategy as a foundational element of homeland security. But what does federalism mean in the 21st century, and how is it practiced? “Federalism, Homeland Security and National Preparedness: A Case Study in the Development of Public Policy,”by Samuel H. Clovis Jr., looks at how the concept of federalism has been operationalized in homeland security. Clovis describes the conflicting views of federalism that inform policy development and implementation. He reviews the history of federalism in the United States, and highlights the interaction between contemporary views of federalism and the complex efforts to create workable homeland security policy. Clovis concludes his article with a discussion of “collaborative federalism” – an approach he argues would go a long way toward reducing current impediments to sound policy. In my opinion, this is a particularly important article. It discusses a topic that is often referred to, but rarely analyzed in a homeland security context.

Under our featured theme of Strategic Planning, we offer two essays and five articles.

Christopher Bellavita, in a Changing Homeland Security column titled “Shape Patterns, Not Programs,”looks at homeland security strategy as both an intentional and an emergent activity. He asserts that while the homeland security community keeps getting better at enacting intended strategy, the community can do a better job acknowledging and integrating emergent strategy. His essay describes a framework that incorporates the dynamic elements of complex adaptive systems. Bellavita maintains that recognizing and managing systemic patterns, rather than focusing primarily on programs, would benefit homeland security.

Glenn Woodbury’s essay is called “Learning Homeland Security – How One Executive Education Program Engages State And Local Officials.”Woodbury notes that homeland security, as a policy domain, is comparatively new to many senior state and local officials. Those officials are already responsible for more activities than can reasonably be accomplished in a normal day, week, or month. Now they somehow have to find a way to learn about this thing called homeland security. There are many ways this learning can take place. Woodbury’s article describes one approach used by the Department of Homeland Security and the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security. This method, called the Mobile Education Team, provides senior state and local officials the opportunity to explore, debate, discuss, and occasionally resolve some of the difficult issues they face in homeland security.

Sharon Caudle returns to Homeland Security Affairs with an article titled “Basic Practices Aiding High Performance Homeland Security Regional Partnerships.” Developing collaborative regional approaches to homeland security is a priority under the national preparedness goal. Caudle presents several basic practices designed to help form and sustain a high performance partnership. The practices draw on collaboration, coordination, partnership, and performance management literature. Caudle identifies two kinds of practices: strategic and enabling. Strategic practices bring value to a partnership. Enabling practices support implementing and sustaining a partnership. The practices identified in this article are intended to serve as strategic guides jurisdictions can use to improve current regional arrangements or to build new ones.

Lauren S. Fernandez, Joseph A. Barbera, and Johan R. van Dorp contribute an article titled “Strategies for Managing Volunteers during Incident Response: A Systems Approach.”Disasters can attract large numbers of people who arrive unbidden at the scene to offer assistance. While these volunteers can be a significant resource they can also get in the way of emergency response activities. The challenge for those who manage the incident is how to take advantage of the available volunteer resources, while ensuring that responders can effectively perform their jobs within established protocols. The article offers a systems-based approach to planning for spontaneous volunteers during a disaster.

In “The Department of Defense As Lead Federal Agency,” Kathleen J. Gereski explores the issue of what role the Department of Defense could have and should have in a catastrophic incident. Response has historically been a civilian governmental function. Hurricane Katrina challenged that history. Gereski examines the complex legal and policy issues that would surround a shift in government emergency management responsibility towards the military. Those issues include challenges to federalism, state sovereignty, gubernatorial authority, and the impact on constitutional governance. The author questions whether the American public is willing to accept an expanded use of military forces during disasters. Gereski concludes with suggestions for building a more cohesive federal and state civilian response capability.

Don Reed writes about “Why Strategy Matters in the War on Terrorism.”He argues that labeling the post-9/11 efforts as a “war” on terror invoked a war metaphor. As a consequence, success or failure of this effort will be judged by the rules of war. Reed examines the strategic issues that have to be addressed if the United States is to bypass the mistakes of Vietnam and transform its war-fighting efforts from the industrial to the information age. He concludes by arguing that the United States has to clearly define the terms of this war on terror, or risk having those terms defined by the enemy.

The National Strategy for Homeland Security emphasizes the importance of a strong public health system to respond to and recover from a range of emergencies. It is not news to anyone who has followed public health to learn that the public health infrastructure does not have enough people adequately trained to prevent or respond to potential public health disasters. In the article “Assessment of Public Health Infrastructure to Determine Public Health Preparedness,” Denise Santiago and Anke Richter use a case study of Union County, New Jersey to determine baseline staffing needed to conduct routine public health functions and perform the critical tasks required to support an infrastructure for bioterrorism preparedness. The authors argue that public health preparedness can be achieved only if the staffing infrastructure is built and sustained. The methodology the authors employ to make their argument can be used to quantify public health staffing gaps in other counties and states. The authors’ maintain that federal and state spending priorities have to be realigned if public health is to become a full partner in the homeland security mission.

Finally, if you are someone who enjoys an occasional martini, the next time you have one hold a good thought for Lacy Suiter. Just make sure that martini is dry. Very dry.

— The Editor

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