The Birth and Evolution of Homeland Security
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Homeland security in a general term used to describe various security efforts of the United States federal government to provide protection to the country against invasions by her enemies, terrorist attacks and other related terrorists activities. Homeland security refers to national efforts on controlling, managing and preventing potential attacks from terrorist organizations and individuals. Homeland security includes various efforts by the state and federal governments that aim at providing protection to the United States of America from both internal and external attacks. It also includes efforts by security agencies such as the United States Armed Forces to reduce the vulnerability and exposure of the United States to security threats and potential attacks. Homeland security also concerns lessening the severity of terrorist attacks in the U.S. Moreover, homeland security also aims at minimizing damages and impacts that may be caused by terrorist activities in the United States as well as efforts to facilitate or smooth the progress of recovery after terrorist attacks or invasions.
The Department of Homeland Security is made of various sub-departments such as the U.S. Customs Service, Federal Protective Service (FPS), Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP), Nuclear Incidence Response Team, National BW Defense Analysis Centre, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Secret Service amongst others.
The Birth of Homeland Security
Homeland security was instituted and became fully operational on March 1, 2003 after massive reorganizations of various departments and security agencies in the United States. The reorganizations led to the creation of the United States Department of Homeland Security which is mandated to provide protection and security to America. The United States Department of Homeland Security was formed in mid 2002 after combining twenty-two different departments and security agencies into a cohesive security agency. According to Ball Howard, the main reason that led to the formation of homeland security was the invasion and suicidal attacks on America by terrorist groups in September 11, 2001. Today, the term ‘homeland security’ is used to refer to collective actions and efforts of the United States Department of Homeland Security as well as the activities of the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs that aim a protection America from attacks.
In June 2002, former U.S. President George W. Bush proposed the creation of a new departmen that would lead to considerable transformations in the efforts of the American government to protect the country from invasions and terror attacks. President George Bush alleged that the transformations in the government would reduce confusions in the responsibilities and duties of security agencies by putting together all operations and activities of security agencies that aim at providing protection to the country under a single department. According to Brian Jackson, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security was one of the major strategies that President George Bush used to strengthen or tighten security measures in the U.S.
As asserted by Thomas Streissguth, homeland security was created as a response to the massive calls by millions of Americans for the federal government to provide adequate security its people. The Americans were highly terrified by the stern effects of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington D.C. A few days after the September 11 suicidal attacks, the then governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, was selected to head the Office of Homeland Security. The Office of Homeland Security was located in the White House and it was responsible for keeping an eye on national security measures as well as coordinated various activities to protect America from terrorist attacks.
The Evolution of Homeland Security
In November 2002, the Homeland Security Act was formulated and enacted by the U.S. Congress to facilitate the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security to take over from the Office of Homeland Security.
In February 2005, U.S. Secretary Michael Chertoff took office and instigated various amendments in the Homeland Security Act. The amendments were termed as the second stage of the various reviews that were to be carried out on the Act. The main duty of Secretary Michael Chertoff was to assess and appraise various operations and policies of the department as well as its organizational structure. This second stage of the review process comprised of approximately eighteen action teams and more than two-hundred officers of the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, members of the public, private and non-governmental organizations as well as state and federal governments were also involved in the review process. Findings of the review suggested that the Department of Homeland Security should be reorganized to enable it carry out its duties and responsibilities more effectively and efficiently.
In July 2005, the Department of Homelland Security underwent massive restructurings and reorganizations that led to abolishment and elimination of three major directorates that were created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. These directorates include the Directorate of Border and Transportation Security, the Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response and the Directorate of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection.
In October 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the SAFE Port Act which authorized the establishment of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) as a unit in the Department of Homeland Security. In August 2007, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) was transferred from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) The transfer of the ICE to NPPD was done in order to facilitate and streamline decision making processes within the Department of Homeland Security. The move also was meant to align the operations of ICE with the protection missions of Homeland Security Department. In addition, the Federal Protective Service was also transferred to the National Protection and Programs Directorate towards the end October in 2009.
Last but not least, the latest advancement in homeland security is the completion of the first phase of Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR). Quadrennial Homeland Security Review team is headed by Secretary Janet Napolitano. The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review was established in February 2010 to conduct a survey and determine the most appropriate and strategic framework that would facilitate operations of the Department of Homeland Security as well as to enable the department to deliver its duties effectively; hence achieving national security goals and missions. In addition, another review termed as the Bottom-Up Review (BUP) was established to support activities of the Department of Homeland Security.
Since its creation, the Department of Homeland Security has grown to become a highly effective, unified and integrated department. The department has ensured a highly strengthened security system in the U.S. In my view, the establishment of homeland security has made America a more secure nation that is well equipped and prepared to deal with various threats she faces. Moreover, although terrorist threats to the U.S. may evolve or change over time, homeland security has equally evolved and become more prepared to deal with potential attacks in the future.