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A Homeland Security View of Readiness
Posted By Steven Bucci On May 29, 2012 @ 3:00 pm In Security | Comments Disabled
In the past, readiness simply meant the status of U.S. military might . Today, however, national security readiness requires a much broader definition that includes not only conventional defense but also homeland security. If the U.S. persists in restricting the discussion only to the state of military readiness, it will present a false view of where the nation stands.
The discussion of readiness certainly includes the military, but it also includes the intelligence community; federal, state, and local law enforcement; and non-law enforcement first responders such as EMTs, firefighters, and private-sector security personnel. Intelligence has made the most progress; law enforcement still requires additional vertical integration; and other responders remain too disjointed.
The good news is that maturity and progress are prevailing, and intelligence is becoming more of an asset every day. However, the Administration should continue to push for integration and break down all remaining stovepipes. Particularly amid budget reductions, a leaner and more efficient intelligence community can be leveraged to offset cuts elsewhere. The more U.S. leaders know about the hostile world that surrounds us, the better they can protect America from such hostilities. But if the readiness budget is cut too much, the nation suffers.
There is, however, unevenness in law enforcement readiness. Big-city police forces such as the NYPD and the LAPD are robust and add greatly to overall readiness. Unfortunately, other municipalities are far less ready. There is a need for more vertical integration among federal, state, and local entities, and there must be better leveraging of the all parts of this crucial community to ensure that state and local law enforcement have a seat at the table. Likewise, more must be done to ensure that information sharing among law enforcement works both ways, so that state and local law enforcement is not only sending information to the federal government but receiving it as well.
Yet like their law enforcement counterparts, capabilities vary widely. No federal agency needs to try to align all the first responders in the country, however; vertical integration should stay within the individual states. Non-law enforcement first responders should develop routine communication with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s regional leadership so that everyone knows their counterparts before any disaster, man-made or natural, occurs.
It is unclear to what extent this Administration will use readiness as a bill payer for domestic entitlement programs. Lower discretionary funding levels will almost certainly limit new programs but could lead to more efficiency and cooperation. At the least, a baseline of funding should be maintained.
National readiness is more complicated today than ever before. It is only by the continued evaluation and integration of all these elements that America’s real level of readiness can be determined. All those who serve are ready to protect America, but maintaining a proper level of readiness is not a foregone conclusion. It must be funded and developed in new, updated ways.
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URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/05/29/a-homeland-security-view-of-readiness/
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 military might: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/05/a-new-decade-of-security-how-ready-is-america
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