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9/11 Commission Report

The 9/11 Commission Report called the attacks a failure of imagination. How we think about the subject, or don’t think about it, can be as important as any other aspect of homeland security.

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

Homeland Security Is Better Broad

A broad view of Homeland Security permits us access to more tools. Different groups define Homeland Security differently. The extremes of opinion are represented, for the narrow view, by those who feel homeland security is only about terrorism. They believe focusing on anything additional dilutes, distracts, and weakens the homeland security mission.

Others say its focus is terrorism and natural disasters. Still others claim homeland security is about what is called ‘all hazards’ (terrorism, man-made disasters, and natural disasters). To some, homeland security is focused on your particular geographical risk depending on where you live, for example, hurricanes, tornados, flooding, or earthquakes.

One practitioner uses the term “Generational Hazards.” These are hazards created by the present generation that “take many decades to metastasize before finally reaching a disastrous end-state that impacts future generations.” Global warming is one example.

At the other extreme, the broad view of homeland security advocates that homeland security is about everything – that it implicates almost every sector of our lives and there is very little which does not relate to it in some way.

Homeland Security Emergency Management

Using an Office of Homeland Security/Emergency Management (HSEM) as an example, homeland security looks like or reflects the breadth-of-homeland-security view of its leaders. For those with an ‘emergency services’ orientation we would expect to see major involvement by emergency services providers only (police, fire, EMS, etc.). This system might have the best equipment and respond with military precision, yet if these are the only participants, then their job is done as soon as the ‘scene is safe.’ This is not enough.

Faith Based Assistance

In response to the ever-present need for services, religious and other non-profit organizations have a long history of helping. Homeland security supports and promotes these organizations and they are a part of our planning.

The reestablished White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships works to “promote partnerships with religious and secular organizations to better serve people in need."There is the DHS Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships and FEMA's Voluntary, Faith-Based, & Community-Based Organizations. Plus, there are countless others who are independent of these structures.

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