Strategic Guidance for an Integrated Approach to Security, Emergency Management And Resilience
More than a decade has passed since the world witnessed the horrifying events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. After that long ago fateful morning, the United States government put into place new policies and programs that significantly transformed the way we protect our nation from acts of terror. While the initial purpose was to implement a new regime of antiterrorism measures, new programs that took into account threats involving both man-made and natural disasters were also developed. Whether it is increased information sharing among law enforcement and intelligence agencies, stronger border security, a layered aviation security regime, or stronger capabilities and more frequent and uniform training across all levels of government, today we are better prepared to prevent and protect against urgent threats and we have an enhanced ability to respond and quickly recover should another disaster occur.
Critical to helping us maintain this momentum is sharing our hard-won experiences with others. This handbook serves as an important contribution to this collaborative effort so that we may learn, practice and identify new ways to manage our risk and be prepared for the next generation of threats likely to emerge.
Of course, completely eliminating risk is not possible without compromising the freedoms and liberties we hold so dear. For example, we could stop all potential danger or risk from boarding a commercial airliner if we simply stopped flying. Keeping every possible danger from crossing our nation’s borders could be accomplished if we halted all imports and stopped all travel and commerce from entering our country. But these draconian scenarios are both unrealistic and undesirable. Therefore, homeland security is about risk management and not risk elimination. It is about determining what layers of security we can put in place to get the best possible protection at a reasonable cost.
Most recently, the U.S. was able to demonstrate success at reducing our risk of another potential terrorist attack on our shores with the death of Osama Bin Laden. However, this victory does not eliminate the threat of terrorism and should not foster complacency. Our adversaries are evolving; we will confront a new set of leaders who may think differently and develop novel tactics and technologies to carry out their threats.
In addition to terrorism, other actors threaten not only our homeland security but our economic well-being as well. Today’s persistent cyber threat represents an increasing highly disruptive threat to our national security; perhaps the biggest game changer since the onset of the nuclear age more than 65 years ago. Information technologies and network operations are essential to our daily lives as well as our global commerce. As a result, they continue to be targeted and attacked daily by a variety of actors ranging from today’s modern-day criminals interested in pure financial gain, to nation states seeking stronger advantages for their own global competitiveness and dominant war fighting powers. Despite various government initiatives to help mitigate our risk to cyber-attack, there is in place no comprehensive strategy for cyber defense and security. To be blunt, we lack a unified vision of the problem and a comprehensive set of solutions to tackle it.
Today more than ever, we need a knowledgeable and skilled security community to meet these challenges and others that we will certainly face. This handbook serves as an important resource so that we may learn from what has been accomplished, even in only the last few years, while building and expanding a new generation of leaders with new thinking, decision making, and strategies. We must be prepared to constantly retool our approach and adapt new plans and tactics that protect our nation without unreasonable financial and social costs.
As you read through this unique guide of critical homeland security issues, you can begin to identify where the future threats are likely to be. Through your own contributions, you can help identify the planning and tools necessary to help us best confront them.
Chairman of The Chertoff Group
Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2005-2009)