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A Broad View of Homeland Security - Titles

The titles we used and the focus of what we now call homeland security has changed over the years . During the Cold War we called it “Civil Defense,” focused on nuclear war with the Soviets. When the Cold War ended, the focus moved to natural hazards.

After 9/11 we called it homeland security, focused on terrorism. Homeland security has learned and matured and is now focused on “all hazards” (terrorism + natural disasters + manmade disasters). Within this list of terms should also be “public safety.”

Views of emergency management:

Further insight into ‘what is homeland security?’ can be gained by examining different models of emergency management. Michael D. Selves describes two philosophically different views of emergency management - the “emergency services” model and the “public administration” model.

The “emergency services [model is] primarily concerned with the coordination of emergency services.” Among other things, Selves points out that under the emergency services model

Organizational interactions tend to be primarily with emergency services agencies. Managers operating under the E-S model may be reluctant to interact with non-emergency services agencies and especially with senior, elected officials. Often emergency management functions are embedded within an emergency service agency. This has the effect of isolating them further from the policy making functions of the jurisdiction. Access to local executives and elected officials is often indirect and limited by the organizational structure. Interaction with policy level officials is also often characterized by an attitude that the “politicians” are a nuisance during response operations and should be “kept somewhere so they don’t get in the way”.

The “public administration” model is much broader.

The P-A model is based on a philosophy which views emergency management as an element of the overall administration of government. It sees emergency management as that aspect of public administration which deals with the operation of government during crisis. Because of this, there is an interest in the political, social and psychological factors that are involved in crisis management. The concern is focused on not just the emergency services response, but on the impact of the disaster/emergency in terms of larger jurisdictional issues…

Practitioners operating under the P-A model tend to approach emergency management as a discipline, subject to academic research and debate with the results … being used as tools in implementing a local program…

The “emergency services” model is narrow, restricted, and limited. It is primarily concerned with making sure the fire is out! The “public administration” model is, by comparison, broad, full, and robust. The public administration model empowers recovery and enables a fuller response – we will be better able to address the full range of issues affecting us.


Massey, Patrick J.. “Generational Hazards.” Homeland Security Affairs 3, Article 3 (September 2007), section entitled “Things Change – The Profession Adapts to Meet New Threats.” Web. 14 March 2016. < https://www.hsaj.org/articles/142>.

Local Emergency Management: A Tale of Two Models, by Michael D. Selves, July 27, 2004. No longer available from www.training.fema.gov.

U.S military policy describes homeland security in a similar, broad view. “HS describes the intersection of evolving threats and hazards with traditional governmental and civic responsibilities for civil defense, emergency response, law enforcement, customs, border control, and immigration.” Joint Publication 3-28, “Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” 31 July 2013. https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=742871

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