The American national security coined the term homeland security with regards to the collective effort by the nation to ensure a homeland that is secure, safe and resilient to hazards and terrorism, ensuring that the Americans’ aspirations and interests can thrive. The definition of homeland security continues to change with time and what its meaning was twenty years ago is not what it is now. Homeland security is not limited to terrorism incidents alone. Still, it covers criminal and violent acts that groups or individuals commit to further their ideological goals, which may be categorized as environmental, racial, social, religious or political. The United States has an all-hazards approach to homeland security endeavours. Under the all-hazards process, homeland security covers both artificial events and natural disasters (McElreath et al., 2014). Accordingly, a plethora of situations is contained under the domain of homeland security, ranging from acts of terrorism, such as those that happened on September 11, 2001, the Boston Marathon Bombing, to natural disasters, such as those caused by Hurricane Katrina and Irma.
The enactment of the Homeland Security Act in 2002 and the reorganization of civil agencies in the US government saw the United States Department of Homeland Security formation following the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers. While Homeland Security and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may look similar, they are different and should not be confused (Alperen, 2017). The Homeland Security Act of 2002 resulted in the formation of the DHS. Homeland Defense, on the other hand, is the protection of the sovereignty of the United States as well as critical infrastructure and the domestic population against aggression and external threats.
The Four Pillars of Homeland Security
The scope of homeland security in the United States includes but is not limited to emergency preparedness and response for natural disasters and terrorism, including fire personnel, emergency management, police and volunteer management, international as well as domestic intelligence activities, critical infrastructure, including cyber protection and physical/perimeter, Investigation of the makers and distributors of child pornography, border control, logistics and transportation security (Burns, 2015; Burns, 2018) as well as biodefense. They also detect radiological and radioactive materials and research on following generational security technologies.
Under mitigation, homeland security puts measures that reduce the chance of an emergency happening, prevent an emergency or put in place measures that will decrease the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. An all-hazards approach is applied by homeland security, implying that they deal with both artificial and natural hazards (Jones et al., 2010). Some of the mitigation measures that have been utilized in homeland security include the promotion of sound land use planning based on the known hazards, the purchasing of flood insurance by dwellers close to rivers so that they can protect their belonging, elevation and relocation of structures away from the floodplains and put in place water heaters and securing shelves on nearby walls. Other mitigation measures include the development and enforcement of building codes and standards that are effective, the utilization of fire-retardant materials in new constructions, as well as the development and implementation of plans for the reduction of susceptibility in communities.
Under mitigation, the department of homeland security put in place a Policy for Integrated Risk Management (IRM). This policy’s main idea is that cooperation is vital in managing risk by security partners. By working together, they can build management capabilities which can be integrated and sustained with private, nongovernmental, territorial, tribal, local, state and federal homeland security partners. Despite the efforts of the entire homeland security being needed, the DHS singlehandedly manages risks in the nation from the complex and diverse set of hazards, namely transnational crime, cyber-attacks, pandemics, artificial and natural disasters, as well as acts of terrorism.
The Homeland Security Enterprise is also equipped with information and intelligence that is purposed at keeping the Homeland resilient, secure and safe. The Department of Homeland Security, through the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, incorporates intelligence into all its operations across the private sector, partners in the local and state governments, and DHS components to mitigate and respond to threats.
These refer to the activities that a community puts in place to respond to the occurrence of a disaster. Some of the preparedness measures that homeland security puts in place include the presentation of all-hazards education campaigns, the conduction of disaster exercises to reinforce test and training capabilities, training concerned citizens and response personnel and the development of memoranda of understanding and mutual aid agreements.
Under preparedness by Homeland Security, the National Response Framework establishes a comprehensive but single approach for managing domestic incidents. The NRF is utilized in preparing, responding, preventing, and recovering from major emergencies, including disasters and terrorist attacks. This all-hazards plan by the department of homeland security is built upon the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
The Homeland Security Presidential Directive directed the development of NIMS. The template provided by NIMS is crucial in enabling the private sector, NGOs, and tribal, local, state and federal governments to work together for the prevention, protection against, response, recovery and mitigation of the impacts of incidents. The work of NRF happens hand in hand with that of NIMS, with NIMS providing the template for incident management and NRF providing the mechanisms and the structure for the management of incidents at a national level. Among the core terminologies, concepts and principles contained in NIMS are an emphasis on resource management, mutual aid and preparedness, management structures and standard command, and an approach to managing unified incidents called the Incident Command System (ICS).
These refer to the actions done or taken to return a community to near-normal or average conditions, such as repairing economic, social and physical damages and restoring essential services. Some of the recovery actions done by homeland security after a disaster include the sustained mass care of the animal and human populations, critical facilities, rebuilding bridges and roads, financial assistance to governments and individuals, and debris cleanup. Disaster recovery always consumes the most time and resources. Homeland security has been putting in place measures to enable more straightforward disaster response through the optimization of disaster recovery assistance programs and recovery operations. Among the bodies that target the reduction of recovery time is the Science and Technology Directorate Community and Infrastructure Resilience Program (C&IR), which operates a disaster recovery project that develops standards, products and processes that are aimed at improving outcomes and operations in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well as its territorial, tribal, local and state partners.
The goal of disaster recovery is the improvement of mitigation and management of the adverse effects of natural disasters. Some of these efforts include the acceleration of the time taken in the reception of recovery aid. These efforts also aim at streamlining household and individual assistance programs to communities that have been affected through the direct delivery of assistance to disaster survivors in dire need. The simplification and speeding of recovery efforts can also be done by monitoring and rebuilding the restoration functions through faster decision-making and improved damage assessments.
Response actions refer to the actions that are done immediately after, during or before t disaster to alleviate suffering, reduce economic losses or save lives. Some of the response actions done by the department of homeland security include rescue and urban search, fire-fighting, medical care, emergency rescue, providing mass care, opening shelters, evacuation of threatened populations and the activation of emergency operation centres.
In the Bible, Jesus Christ advises that all Christians should be ready at all times. Matthew 24:44 states, “So you also must be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Here, Jesus Christ is alerting Christians that they should always be prepared. Similarly, in the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to the parable of the ten virgins, whereby five were wise, and the other five were foolish. The wise ones were prepared, but the foolish ones did not carry oil with their lamps. Regarding homeland security, they are in a similar position as the shepherds of God because they put them as stewards of various resources. From God’s Calling, an emergency manager can develop a deeper connection and meaning to his position on authority by getting a clear understanding of the four pillars of homeland security,
In conclusion, Homeland Security is a national security term that deals with both artificial and natural disasters. It deals with acts such as terrorism and other environmental, racial, social, religious or political activities. The four pillars of homeland security are mitigation, preparedness, recovery and response. Mitigation by homeland security is effected through risk assessment, intelligence usage and other mitigation strategies. Preparedness is done by NRF, NIMS and ICS, while recovery constitutes resiliency. All these are combined to ensure that disasters are checked, and people’s lives are saved. Similarly, the bible advises that all human beings should always be prepared. Emergency managers need to emulate the teachings of Jesus to ensure proper and constant service delivery to citizens.
Alperen, M. (2017). Foundations of Homeland Security: Law and Policy, Second Edit (2nd. ed.). Chapter one.: John Wiley & Sons. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-119-28911-1. Retrieved May 10, 2021.
Burns, M. G. (2015). Logistics and Transportation Security: A Strategic, Tactical, and Operational Guide to Resilience. CRC Press. doi:10.1201/b19414. ISBN 978-0429256745.
Burns, M. G. (2018). “Participatory Operational & Security Assessment on homeland security risks: an empirical research method for improving security beyond the borders through public/private partnerships”. Journal of Transportation Security. 11 (3–4): pp. 85–100. doi:10.1007/s12198-018-0193-1. S2CID 169554697.
Jones D., Givens A. (2010). O’Leary, R., Van Slyke, D., Kim, S. (eds.). Public Administration: The Central Discipline in Homeland Security in The Future of Public Administration Around the World: The Minnowbrook Perspective. Georgetown University Press. pp. 67–78. ISBN 978-1589016255.
McElreath, D., Jensen, C., Wigginton, M., Doss, D., Nations, R. Van Slyke, J. (2014). Introduction to Homeland Security (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-1439887523.