Border security, immigration, customs, terrorism, and cyber threats…all areas that need constant attention to ensure the safety and security of a country. America is known as the land of the free, but following the events of 9/11, safety is now arguably the value that sits top of the list for most US citizens, and security in America has been taken to a new level with increased airport safety procedures, strengthened border control, and new legislation being passed.
So who drives this man effort and what are the processes and procedures that ensure people are safe and secure? Let’s find out, in this episode of The Infographics Show: What Is The Role of Homeland Security?
On September 20, 2001, in response to the tragic 9-11 attacks, President George W. Bush proposed the creation of the Office of Homeland Security. The office was created the following month. Then in 2002, The President announced his plans to create the Department of Homeland Security or DHS. Today this cabinet has more than 240,000 employees and is the third largest Cabinet department in the United States government.
The National Strategy for Homeland Security defines their approach as a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur. Funding for homeland security has risen from $16 billion in 2001 to $71.6 billion in 2018. The department is responsible for public security, such as anti-terrorism, border security, immigration and customs, cyber security, and disaster prevention and management. There are 6 key focus areas. Let’s take a look.
1. Intelligence and Warning
Terrorists depend on surprise. Without it, they are unable to create the severe carnage their attacks are designed to cause. DHS understands that intelligence is an integral component of the overall effort to reduce the nations’ vulnerability to terrorism. Solid intelligence coupled with warning systems that are capable of detecting a terrorist event before it happens, is a sure way to minimize the risk of an attack. DHS also has a number of strategic initiatives to support their mission with intelligence and warning.
These include working with the FBI to hire intelligence analysts with specialized expertise, such as computer skills, foreign language capacity, and science and engineering backgrounds, and also using “red team” techniques to improve the department’s capability of detecting terrorism. This is achieved by DHS staff who are responsible for viewing the United States through the eyes of the terrorists, to help discern methods, and decipher targets they are planning to strike.
2. Border and Transportation Security
America’s borders total 7,000 miles of land with Canada and Mexico, as well as coastlines, lakes and rivers which also fall under DHS’s jurisdiction. Monitoring these areas 24 hours a day, is essential to reduce the illegal movement of people, drugs, weapons, and contraband.
DHS secures America’s borders through the deployment of technology, infrastructure and personnel, and by working closely with Mexico and Canada and other state and territory partners. Some achievements since the creation of DHS, include a 53 percent reduction in illegal immigration attempts during the past three years, and along the Southwest border, there have been 41 percent more drugs seized, 74 percent more currency seized, and 159 percent more weapons seized compared to years from 2006 to 2008.
3. Domestic Counterterrorism
Terrorism is top of the priority list for DHS. It’s the reason the department was created, and terrorists continue to evolve with the way they plan their attacks. The department must stay a head of the game by understanding the many ways an attack can now be carried out. Whether biological, chemical, radiological, nuclear or cyber attacks…
The reach of the Internet has also fueled the growth of “homegrown” extremism, where individuals based in the United States are recruited online. And since 9/11, initiatives with Homeland Security have seen the FBI handed far larger budgets to help fight and prevent terrorist attacks. Law enforcement officials now have better tools, including roving wiretaps and the authority to seize assets to help end financial counterfeiting, smuggling and money-laundering. And Judges are able to pass higher sentences when convicting individuals of terrorism.
4. Protecting Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets
Critical infrastructure refers to things such as the power in our homes, drinking water, public transport, shops and communication systems – all areas that assist in the daily functioning of American society. When DHS was created, it was assigned the responsibility of coordinating measures to strengthen and protect these areas. In total, there are 16 critical infrastructure sectors that are considered vital to the United States, because if they are compromised in any way, the result would have a debilitating effect on security and national public health and safety.
These 16 areas are: chemical, commercial, communications, manufacturing, dams; defense; emergency services; energy; financial services; food and agriculture; government facilities; healthcare and public health; information technology; nuclear reactors, materials and waste; transportation systems; water and wastewater. Since the private sector owns an estimated 85 percent of all critical infrastructure in America, private sector partnerships have developed to ensure the success of Homeland Security in areas such as vulnerability assessments, determining criticality, and other activities associated with critical infrastructure protection.
5. Defending Against Catastrophic Threats
The technology, expertise and material needed to build deadly weapons is more readily available today than it has ever been, and so there is a far higher probability of a terrorist or enemy country using chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons on the US. An event which would have catastrophic results – Mass casualties far beyond that of 9/11, social and economic disruption, and long-term contamination, would cause a devastating amount of instability within the country. The department has deployed inspection and detection procedures to ensure materials are unable to enter the country through ports, and the Department of Defense works with foreign countries who have nuclear programs to ensure continued strict security for the global inventory of nuclear weapons.
6. Emergency Preparedness and Response
DHS also reacts to natural disasters that impact millions of Americans every year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA, is a team within The Department, helping communities reduce their risk, supporting emergency services prepare for accidents and natural disasters, and helping people to get back to normal when their lives are turned upside down by a disaster. When Hurricane Irma, a Category 3 storm with winds of 135 miles per hour, hit Florida last year, Homeland Security was responsible for coordinating the response. This included federal teams, and voluntary agencies staffing emergency shelters, providing food and water, and offering comfort.
Since inception in 2002, the Department of Homeland Security has absorbed Immigration and assumed all border safety and security responsibilities. It manages all aspects of domestic security to ensure Americans are safe and that the threat of another major terrorist attack, is greatly reduced.
So, do you think America is a safer place since the introduction of these Homeland Security strategies? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called FBI vs CIA. Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!.