One common point made in most of this week’s readings is that there is not one clear definition for homeland security. Different people and agencies come up with different definitions based on their different perspectives. The definition can also change over time based off what is happening in the United States. Thomas Goss seems to accept the common conclusion that homeland security mainly relates to terrorism in his article ” ‘Who’s in Charge?’ New Challenges in Homeland Defense and Homeland Security.'” He uses the National Strategy for Homeland Security definition that homeland security is preventing and mitigating the effects of terrorist attacks. Christopher Bellavita states that homeland security is protecting against internal/domestic threats in “Changing Homeland Security: What is Homeland Security.” He defines homeland security as “an element of national security that works with other instruments of national power to protect the sovereignty, territory, population and critical infrastructure of the United States against threats and aggression.” Paul McHale, when he was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and America’s Security Affairs, said that homeland security’s purpose is to achieve security and public safety for the people, and that homeland security is principally related to civilian law enforcement (DHS and interagency partners).
I believe that the different definitions used does affect the overall goal to protect the homeland. There is a wide spectrum of threats to the homeland from criminal to terrorism to military related. Thomas Goss wrote that without a clear definition of homeland security there will be a lot of confusion between different levels of government and different agencies as to who is responsible for what. This definitely affects our ability to protect the homeland. One main point in Christopher Bellavita’s article is that the definition of homeland security changes based off what you are focused on and trying to achieve. Sometimes the focus is on terrorism, sometimes homeland security can include all hazards. Additionally the definition changes based off jurisdiction. I believe this proves that differences in definitions affects the government’s ability to protect the homeland. For example, after 9/11, the focus of homeland security was on terrorism, not all hazards. This contributed to the government not being well prepared for other disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Mattea Kramer and Chris Hellman also seem to argue that the definition affects the overall goal in their article ” ‘Homeland Security:’ The Trillion-Dollar Concept That No One Can Define.” They argue that not having a clear definition leads to waste, duplication and poor management.
How much homeland defense overlaps with homeland security depends on your definitions of the two terms. I believe homeland defense involves the military’s protection of the homeland, both domestically and overseas. It includes both proactive and reactive measures. Thomas Goss said that homeland defense is the DoD conducting military actions to defend the United States at the direction of the President. Goss acknowledges that there is overlap between homeland security and defense, but sees that as more of an opportunity than challenge. He thinks this overlap can be positive because it provides the government for multiple options to a threat. Christopher Bellavita generalized homeland security as protecting against internal threats and defense as protecting against external threats. On the surface this seems straightforward and not overlapping, but can lead to many challenges. External threat do not stay external, and they lead to internal threats. Another big challenge that comes from homeland defense overlapping with homeland security is determining how much involvement the military should have in domestic security operations. The McHale interview and Colonel Jerry Cusic’s article reinforce the principle that homeland security is a law enforcement responsibility. The DoD is just supposed to support when needed. There are plenty of laws and precedent that guide what the military can and cannot do domestically. Navigating the legality of all this is a big challenge for not only the political and military leaders making decisions during manmade and natural disasters, but also for the troops carrying out the orders.