The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or just Homeland security was created in 2003 by bringing together various government agencies after the 9/11 attacks with the aim of protecting the U.S. against subsequent terror attacks. As a result, the DHS is made up of different government agencies including the United States National Guard, Civil Air Patrol, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other government entities with the exclusion of FBI, DoD, CIA, and the Department of Health and Human Services whose activities are outside the jurisdiction of Homeland Security (Hulnick, 2004, p. 13). Conversely, the National Strategy for Homeland Security defines DHS relative to its functions such as protecting the U.S. against terror attacks; emergency preparedness and quick response to disasters; reduction of the country’s susceptibility to terrorist activities; and minimizing the damages caused by terrorism (Hulnick, 2004). This essay looks at the protocols put in place by DHS regarding its protection plan for the public relative to their effectiveness and adequacy in fulfilling the proposed objectives. Subsequently, the easy proposes different changes, which should be enacted by DHS to enhance service delivery.
Upon its inception in 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was given the duty to provide immediate response to disasters and demonstrate high standards of preparedness in terms of offering emergency medical services, fire and emergency management, domestic intelligence, and dissemination of information regarding disaster threats (Peterson et al., 2000, p. 23). In addition, DHS finds responsibility in providing perimeter and border protection, transportation security, and defense against biological and radiological attacks. Furthermore, DHS aligns its activities with the recent technological changes by conducting research studies on technology-based security systems.
Therefore, to achieve the afore-mentioned responsibilities, DHS is divided into five major directorates, which include the Management; Border and Transport Security (BTS); Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP); Emergency Preparedness and Response; and Science and Technology (Hulnick, 2004). In addition, IAIP; the Emergency Preparedness and Response; and the BTS directorates are grouped as the country’s first responders under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and their responsibility is to respond to all types of terror and disaster threats in the U.S.
On the other hand, the BTS directorate has the highest number of employees including the inspectors of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) who are charged with the responsibility of checking people and luggage at entry and exit points particularly airports (Peterson et al., 2000). Furthermore, studies show that TSA has been consistent in screening and protecting the country against potential terrorists since it was moved from the Department of Transportation. Additionally, other units of BTS are involved in protecting the borders and disaster management by collaborating with other members of FEMA such as the Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP).
Another important directorate of DHS is the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP), which is responsible for analyzing and disseminating information on potential terrorist attacks to target places and persons such as the federal agencies, the public, States, and different cities (Hulnick, 2004, p. 56). Furthermore, the establishment of the Homeland Security Advisory System in 2002 strengthened the intelligence and information analysis functions of DHS. Here, the advisory system uses a five color-coded system of categorizing and assessing the degree of threat involved in different geographic locations and to provide sufficient information to the first-responders at the DHS, different States, and the Public (Hulnick, 2004).
Accordingly, studies show that some of the protocols put in place by DHS are adequate to provide timely and accurate information regarding terrorism and natural disasters to the public and other institutions. For instance, DHS has a Terrorism Advisory System in place to alert the public and institutions about any terrorist threats. Furthermore, the Homeland Security Advisory System is very efficient in planning and communicating various protective strategies to regional governments, private sectors, and first-responders thereby improving the country’s readiness for any terror attacks (Peterson et al., 2000).
However, other services offered by DHS are inadequate or inappropriate in different aspects. For instance, there are no formal documented protocols to guide the process of disseminating important information regarding terror attacks and disasters to different States and government agencies. In fact, some DHS officers note that they find it hard to provide information that enables different States to be flexible relative to changes in the threat levels. As a result, there is the need for DHS to develop formal communication protocols, which guide the dissemination of information regarding changes in the threat levels (Peterson et al., 2000).
Conversely, other studies note that the Homeland Security Advisory System does not command sufficient public confidence particularly when using color-codes to illustrate various changes in threat levels. Therefore, DHS should develop a different alert system that is focused on specific areas under threat instead of using colors, which may elevate the threat status of a single locality to cause confusion at the national level. Furthermore, DHS should develop different protective measures, which are precise and accurate in terms of identifying specific areas under threat and communicate the necessary information to the right people, at the right time (Hulnick, 2004; Peterson et al., 2000).
Overall, the essay presents an in-depth discussion on the protocols that guide the protection plan of DHS and their effectiveness in providing information regarding terrorist and disaster threats. From the discussions above, it is notable that DHS has made considerable efforts to protect the U.S. against terror attacks since its inception. However, some of the services offered by DHS are inadequate or unnecessary and therefore, there is the need for DHS to reform some protective systems as recommended above.
Hulnick, A.S. (2004).Keeping us safe: Secret intelligence and homeland security. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
Peterson, M.B., Morehouse, B., Wright, R. (2000). Intelligence 200, revising the basic elements: A guide for intelligence professionals. New York: Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit.