Protecting the Nation: Homeland Security & Emergency Management - Paper Example

Published: 2023-11-12
Protecting the Nation: Homeland Security & Emergency Management - Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Management United States Security Homeland security National security
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1669 words
14 min read


The country faces ongoing threats from cyber-attacks and terrorism to floods and wildfires. Homeland security and emergency management focuses on both protecting the nation and responding to these natural and man-made disasters. Every single year, both these sets of disasters put people in danger and cause damage to properties. The department is roughly the equivalent to the interior ministries of other countries. Its overall missions involve border security, cybersecurity, anti-terrorism, immigration and customs, and disaster management and prevention. In response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the department was created in November 2002 and began operations in 2003. The Department of Homeland Security is the third-largest Cabinet department in the US with over 240,000 employees (Caruson & MacManus, 2006). This paper shall demonstrate that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is adequately placed in responding to both man-made and natural disasters and helping in the recovery process and that large and medium-size organizations play a vital role in helping keep the public safe.

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Agencies That Would Be Involved In a Man-Made Terrorist Disaster

Man-made disasters result from man-made hazards. They are different from natural disasters that come about due to natural hazards. The threat of a man-made terrorist disaster was escalated by the 9/11 terror attacks on the pentagon and the World Trade Center. The attacks raised the possibility of future terror disasters in the US and their potential impact. Terrorist disasters may take the form of biological hazards, a radiological or nuclear device, chemical agents among other explosives (Caruson & MacManus, 2006). The DHS has a couple of agencies specifically oriented towards managing the response and recovery from a man-made terrorist disaster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is one of the key agencies that would be involved in a man-made terrorist disaster. The agency was incorporated into the DHS in March 2003, together with the other 22 agencies, programs, and offices (Rabkin, 2005). The agency’s objective is to coordinate the role of the government in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects, responding to, and recovering from disasters- including man-made terrorist attacks. For example, as one of its recent responsibilities and undertakings, the agency has been helping in the training and equipping of first responders to deal with attacks where weapons of mass destruction are used.

Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard is one of the agencies that would be involved in a man-made terrorist disaster. In March 2003, the agency was transferred to the DHS from the Department of Transportation. The role of the agency is to protect US economic interests, the environment, and the public in the country's waterways and ports, international waterways, and along the coast.

Some of the agency’s tasks include ensuring the safety and security of anchorages and ports, maritime law enforcement, search and rescue operations over and in navigable waters and high seas, and maintaining causeways and bridges (Bullock, Haddow, & Coppola, 2011). As a result, if a terror attack were to occur in or over US waters, the agency would be one of the key agencies involved in the response and recovery process.

National Communication System (NCS)

The role of the National Communication System (NCS) in the event of a terrorist disaster would be to assist in the communication among the responding agencies (Dalton, 2003). Besides, it would also assist the President and the directors of the various offices including the director of the office of science and technology policy in being up to date with happenings on the ground. The agency was initially created in 1963 and transferred under the DHS in 2003.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

This agency was created after the 9/11 attacks to strengthen the security of the transportation system of the country. One of the key roles of the agency is to work closely with the relevant stakeholders in rail, aviation, pipeline, highway, and transit sectors (Thaler & Bea, 2005). The agency also collaborates with partners in the intelligence community and law enforcement to secure the US transport systems. As the 9/11 attacks and other attacks in other countries have proven, a risk-based strategy in securing the transport system is key to ensuring the freedom of the movement of commerce and people while strengthening the security of the nation.

Emergency First Response Team (EFRT)

Emergency First Response Team is a vital unit that would be involved in a man-made terrorist disaster. The team is a representation of the critical initial group of responders on a scene of a disaster. As a result, first responders are knowledgeable and highly experienced in dealing with crisis scenarios. The attacks of 9/11 highlighted the importance of well-coordinated and fast response especially in terms of saving lives on-site (Penn, 2013). Consequently, the EFTR is a must team in addressing a terror attack disaster.

Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

The Community Emergency Response Teams refers to one of the federal programs that are promoted under the Citizen Corps. The program is essential in FEMA's ability to implement its mandate. Because they can quickly be mobilized from the local communities, these response teams are critical in the first 72 hours after a terrorist disaster before the outside professional emergency services are adequately established on the ground.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

The CDC is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is a critical component of any response to a man-made terrorist disaster because of its wide mandate. The agency is tasked with protecting the wellbeing and health of US citizens globally (Bullock, Haddow, & Coppola, Homeland Security: The Essentials, 2012). With the overwhelming threat of diseases, agents, and other related threats posed by extremist terrorist organizations, the CDC a critical component of the DHS. As a primary resource for guidance on aspects of disaster preparedness and response, its role is important right from the moments before a terrorist disaster to the periods after the attack.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

This is a relatively new agency. It was established in 2008 by President Donald Trump when he signed the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act into law. The duties of the agency include improving cybersecurity across all government levels to protect the nation against the nation-state and private hackers. With hacking becoming a serious threat to national security due to advancements in information technology, the agency is best placed in handling new and emerging cybersecurity threats, including a terrorist disaster (Yen, 2004). In particular, the agency is best placed in detecting a terrorist disaster in the planning phase besides preparing other programs and agencies in preparing for an attack.

US Secret Service

The secrets service would be involved in protecting the country’s leaders and their families in the case of a man-made terrorist disaster. Founded in 1865, the then role of the agency was to combat counterfeiting of the US currency. It was put under DHS in 2003 (Mullins, 2010). In collaboration with CISA, the US Secret Service would conduct electronic investigations including access device fraud, identity theft, network intrusion, and cybercrime among other things that would help in exposing and thwarting a terror plot. Other agencies that would play minor roles in man-made terrorist disasters include Customs and Border Protection, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement among others.

Agencies That Would Be Involved In a Natural Disaster Such As Flooding or a Hurricane

Incident Command System (ICS)

ICS is a disaster information management system. The system is utilized by local responders from any part of the world to communicate between agencies. As a true information system, this platform would be essential for coordinating the response between agencies and teams responding to a natural disaster. For example, in the case of a hurricane or flooding, responders would use the system to coordinate on the best transport means to deliver foods, medicine, and manpower on different areas affected by the disaster (Dalton, 2003). Communication is a critical element in the disaster response process and the ICS offers responders with the best platform to use Information Technologies to achieve a wide plethora of objectives in a rapidly evolving scene.

Coast Guard

The US Coast Guard is one of the oldest agencies under the DHS, demonstrating is importance in natural disaster response in the history of the nation. The agency was established by an act of Congress in 1915. Due to its experience and equipment, the Coast Guard is well placed in search and rescue operations not just in navigable waters and high seas but also in cases of flooding on land. Besides, in the case of a natural disaster involving hurricanes and flooding the agency would provide navigational aid to responding units.

Moreover, as part of its duties, the agency regulates maintains, operates, and regulates the construction of bridges. In the case of a natural disaster such as a hurricane or flooding, the availability of bridges along with navigable waters would be crucial to the response and recovery of the involved communities (Mullins, 2010). The effectiveness of the Coast Guard became evident to the Americans during its numerous search and rescue operations during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans’s flooded sections of the city in August 2005.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA would be involved in a natural disaster such as flooding due to the wide mandate that the agency has. The agency is tasked with the coordination of the government's role in preparing, preventing, responding to, mitigating the effects of, and recovering from all man-made and natural domestic disasters. The agency is very important and its role vast, starting from the period before a natural disaster and the times after the disaster has taken place.

FEMA can trace its origin back to the Congressional Act of 1803. It came into existence following an extensive fire outbreak in New Hampshire. The 2005 Hurricane Katrina exposed some gaps in the agency’s ability to respond to major disasters. In response, President George W. Bush ascended into law the Post Katrina Emergency Reform Act in 2006 (Bullock, Haddow, & Coppola, Introduction to Homeland Security: Principles of All-Hazards Risk Management, 2011). The new law reorganized the agency significantly, providing it with new authority in disaster management.

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