Last Updated 30 Mar 2021

Understanding the US Homeland Security

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On June 2002, President George Bush proposed to create the Department of Homeland Security – a move considered to be the most significant transformation of the US government whereby a single department has been tasked to protect America’s homeland from terrorist attacks. As noted in the Department’s website, the vision of the organization is to preserve the freedom of the United States and its homeland. Its mission is to lead the unified national effort to secure America.

It has aimed to prevent and deter terrorist attacks and protect against and respond to threats and hazards to the US. Furthermore, the organization has vowed, as part of its mission, to safe and secure borders, welcome lawful immigrants and visitors, and to promote the free flow of commerce. (US Department of Homeland Security website, 2002)

The organizational structure of the Department of Homeland Security has several components which involve resources within Federal, state and local governments. The following are the directorates and their components: Directorate for Preparedness, Directorate for Science and Technology, Directorate for Management, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Office of Operations Coordination, Directorate for Policy, Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.

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The Directorate for Preparedness works with state, local, and private sector partners to identify threats, determine vulnerabilities, and target resources where risk is greatest, thereby safeguarding our borders, seaports, bridges and highways, and critical information systems. The Office of the Directorate for Science and Technology is the primary research and development arm of the Department.  It provides Federal, state and local officials with the technology and capabilities to protect the homeland.

The Directorate for Management is responsible for Department budgets and appropriations, expenditure of funds, accounting and finance, procurement; human resources, information technology systems, facilities and equipment, and the identification and tracking of performance measurements. Finally, the Directorate for Policy works to enhance the nuclear detection efforts of Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and local governments, and the private sector and to ensure a coordinated response to such threats. (US Department of Homeland Security website, 2002)

Aside from the Offices of the Directorates, the US Homeland Department also has independent organizations including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Customs and Borders Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Citizenship and Immigration Services, the US Coast Guard, and the US Secret Service.

The functions and main responsibilities of these agencies are as follows: FEMA prepares the nation for hazards, manages Federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, and administers the National Flood Insurance Program. TSA protects the nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. Customs and Borders Protection is responsible for protecting America’s borders in order to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. ICE is responsible for identifying and shutting down vulnerabilities in the nation’s border, economic, transportation and infrastructure security.

Federal Law Enforcement Training Center provides career-long training to law enforcement professionals to help them fulfill their responsibilities safely and proficiently. Citizenship and Immigration Services is responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration services policies and priorities. The US Coast Guard protects the public, the environment, and U.S. economic interests—in the nation’s ports and waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security. (US Department of Homeland Security website, 2002)

Conclusion and analysis

The aftermath of 9/11 has made America more conscious of its homeland security. And rightfully, it is so. The loss of innocent lives and the repercussions it made to the economy of the United States will serve as a reminder that we have to be on vigilant on the evil motives of some countries.

The current structure of the US Department of Homeland Security has so far proven itself effective in carrying out its primary task of protecting America and its citizens against any threat to the nation’s freedom and independence.

After carefully identifying and studying the organization chart of the Department of Homeland Security, I am of the opinion that everything has been placed exactly where they should be. Obviously, the move to cluster all agencies related to security and the protection of America’s homeland was carefully thought out. So far, the issue on security and preparedness in terms of calamities, whether natural or otherwise, has been properly addressed by this Department. Since America has not yet experienced another 9/11, it would seem to me that the Department of Homeland Security has been doing its job perfectly.

References:

  • The US Department of Homeland Security [online]Available at: http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/Cited on: April 30, 2006
  • The White House [online]Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/homeland/index.html Cited on: April 30, 2006;

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