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

Download the full issue. The articles and essays in this issue of Homeland Security Affairs all reflect – in some manner – on how we, as a nation, approach the process of homeland security. Ranging from specific suggestions for procedures and systems to more philosophical discourses on guiding principles, each author (or set of authors) offers a unique perspective on the overriding question of “how do we manage the security mission in the face of perceived threats?”

In “Organizational Innovations in Counterterrorism,” Daniel R. Langberg argues that today’s national security environment demands whole-of-government approaches to meet the security challenges of the twenty-first-century. These challenges include terrorism, trafficking in persons, and cyberspace security. At present, our national security system is organized along functional lines, with weak coordinating mechanisms across functions. Langberg suggests that the counterterrorism community offers a practicable model for national-level interagency coordination.

This need for coordination is emphasized by James Steiner in “More is Better: The Analytic Case for a Robust Suspicious Activity Reports Program.” Steiner outlines the suspicious activity report (SAR) process, from collection through analysis, and looks at the validity of concerns that an expanded SAR program represents a threat to civil liberties. He then presents two analytic requirements for the collection of more – rather than less – information through the SAR process to increase the probability of identifying pre-operational terrorist activity and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of critical infrastructure protection.

Robert T. Mahoney also offers a model – for preparing emergency responders to deal with terrorist attacks as well as routine emergencies. “Threat-based Response Patterns for Emergency Services” proposes a process by which emergency service departments can conduct a comprehensive risk assessment as a basis for developing new response patterns. These new patterns acknowledge that a terrorist crisis condition is different from the daily, routine conditions for which most first-responders are trained.

This process of developing new patterns of response may need to be implemented at the federal level as well. Albert J. Mauroni argues that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has erred in applying Department of Defense (DOD) concepts and scenarios, based on responding to weapons of mass destruction, to the threat of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism. The DOD military response to support state and local emergency responders is not appropriate for today’s conditions. In “Homeland Insecurity: Thinking About CBRN Terrorism,” Mauroni identifies a methodology for reviewing DHS CBRN-response policies and suggests there are more moderate, sustainable strategies for dealing with CBRN terrorism.

Twenty-first-century security threats are also the topic of Raphael Sagarin’s “Natural Security for a Variable and Risk-filled World.” The key to addressing these threats, according to Sagarin, may lie in a common solution framework based on adaptability, which applies the basic tenets and specific strategies of natural security systems to the analysis, planning, and practice of security in human society. As he observes, natural security is adaptable; organisms in nature achieve adaptability through a decentralized organization where threats are detected and responded to peripherally, by managing uncertainty and turning it to their advantage. This adaptive capacity is illustrated in how U.S. troops have used organizational structure, uncertainty, and symbiotic relationships to respond to and protect against IED attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Adaptive capacity, along with resource robustness, is cited as the basis of community resilience in “Building Resilient Communities.” Drawing on an interdisciplinary body of theoretical and policy-oriented literature, Patricia Longstaff and colleagues provide a definition of resilience and suggest a framework that will serve as a tool for guiding planning and allocating resources. This is accomplished by examining resilience attributes according to five key community subsystems: ecological, economic, physical infrastructure, civil society, and governance.

Another aspect of community – racial and ethnic diversity – and the role this diversity plays in perceptions of threat is the subject of “Homeland Security and Support for Multiculturalism, Assimilation, and Omniculturalism Policies among Americans” by Fathali M. Moghaddam and James N. Breckenridge. Using a representative probability sample of more than 4,000 Americans, the study presented here found a majority preference for omniculturalism that cuts across American sociodemographic differences, yet predicts critical variations in the perceived threat of terrorism, the priority of terrorism, confidence in government, and support for aggressive counter-terrorism measures. These preferences, according to the authors, deserve the attention of homeland security professionals.

As always, we publish these essays and articles with the goal of furthering the homeland security debate. Your comments and contributions are welcome at www.hsaj.org.

The Editors

No Comments

Post a Comment