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

Download the full issue. Six years after the attacks of 9/11, the practice and discipline of homeland defense and security have evolved and matured, moving into an era of self-evaluation. The essays and articles in Volume III, Issue 3 of Homeland Security Affairs reflect this stage, asking questions about how we view lessons from the past and directions for the future.

What have we learned from past experience? Christopher Bellavita poses this question with regard to security for special events in “Changing Homeland Security: A Strategic Logic of Special Event Security.” Distilling the strategic insights of almost twenty-five years of national and international special event after-action reports and experience, he offers five principles scalable to special events of practically any size, with applicability to homeland security as well. These principles are (1) start preparing from day one, (2) understand the life cycle of a special event, (3) anticipate the threat spectrum, (4) write – and live – the security strategy, and (5) shape the security landscape. Dr. Bellavita brings theory and practical experience to this strategic discussion.

Judy Boyd also offers personal experience in answering a different question: what does homeland security mean to people living outside the Washington D.C. beltway? “Homeland Security Behind the Redwood Curtain” shares Boyd’s conversations with the denizens of Humboldt County, California. Homeland security has a different connotation for people dwelling in the Redwood forests of Northern California. Their concerns revolve around local issues and threats to their lifestyles, and they rely on the social capital of local bonds, not the security offered by government programs. As Boyd argues, it is time to refocus national homeland security policy and strategy on the premise that, like politics, “all homeland security is local.” Homeland security professionals must draw on the kind of social capital exhibited in Humboldt County and elsewhere to link citizens to the external assets provided by the federal government.

In “Generational Hazards,” Patrick Massey points to another way in which homeland security professionals need to rethink their approach to the future. He argues that we need to create a new, broader homeland security rule-set that includes, at its core, both external hazards (natural and terrorism-induced) and long-term “generational hazards” that will weaken the country in coming decades. Specifically, Massey points to America’s fiscal profligacy, global warming, and an inferior mathematics and science educational system as dangers that homeland security officials can help to mitigate by using their soft power to help position these threats on a par with the global war on terrorism.

Improving our tactical response to terrorism is the focus of three articles: using sensors to detect the movement of terrorists, weapons, or dangerous materials along urban roadways; establishing an identity management system for first responders; and utilizing emergency medical personnel as intelligence collectors.

The research team of Robert Atwell, Lowell Bruce Anderson, Robert Bovey, and Sean Barnett detail the results of their work with sensors used to detect the movement of terrorists, weapons, or dangerous materials in “Application of the Maximum Flow Problem to Sensor Placement on Urban Road Networks for Homeland Security.” This article discusses a methodology developed at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security. Using network theory to identify a minimum “cut set” (a smallest set of road segments necessary to cut to completely block flow through the road network), the authors determined how many sensors would be needed and where they should be located to protect the New York City metropolitan area. Surprisingly, they found that a relatively small number of sensors, if properly placed, would protect the entire area and provide an additional level of protection in preventing terrorist attacks.

Concern about secondary terrorist attacks on first responders – through infiltration of the incident scene – drives Mark Landahl’s argument that we must establish a system (or systems) for managing the identification of first responders. In “Identity Crisis: Defining the Problem and Framing a Solution for Terrorism Incident Response,” Landahl analyzes past response to incidents of domestic terrorism and concludes that one of our largest security gaps lies in properly identifying first response personnel on incident scenes. Identity, he argues, must be established and authenticated to protect responders and prevent infiltration. To this end, Landahl looks at two possible solutions: a typed Identity Management Team response resource and a comprehensive nationwide identity solution for first responders.

Another kind of first responder is the focus of Michael Petrie’s “The Use of EMS Personnel as Intelligence Sensors: Critical Issues and Recommended Practices.” Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel, as first responders, are often in a position to observe signs of terrorist planning, activity, or affiliations. For this reason, Petrie argues, EMS personnel could be used as information collectors to support Terrorism Early Warning Groups (TEWGs) and other intelligence fusion centers. This is not being done now due to strategic concerns about medical confidentiality, EMS professional issues, and societal expectations of medical personnel. Taking these issues into account, Petrie presents a model EMS information collection protocol. While the ability to use EMS personnel as intelligence collectors will vary from state to state, based on laws protecting patient privacy, Petrie argues that the access these personnel have to information regarding potential terrorists could be invaluable to our prevention efforts.

Finally, Paul Stockton reviews Charles Perrow’s The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters (2007). Based on an in-depth analysis of four especially vulnerable components of U.S. infrastructure, Perrow proposes “target reduction” as a means of better surviving future catastrophes. This is, says Stockton, an important book that goes beyond the existing literature on critical infrastructure protection and provides what Stockton calls “a truly all-hazards analysis of homeland security.”

The Editor

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