Role of Homeland Security
The United States Department of Homeland Security was created as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The department was established to unite all agencies and organizations involved in national security. Since then, it has been actively responsible for all efforts to maintain peace and order in the United States and to prevent future terrorist attacks from occurring. Now critical infrastructures within the United States are a federal responsibility, even if these are privately-owned.
However, when it comes to securing these infrastructures, does the responsibility fall under the Department of Homeland Security or is it purely a private concern? This research paper aims to assert that the Department of Homeland Security should assume protection duties for critical, private-sector infrastructure facilities. President George W. Bush released an updated version of the National Strategy for Homeland Security on October 9, 2007; this strategy included the guidelines to centralize and manage the efforts in securing the homeland (White House, n. . ).
This strategy is not merely a federal effort, but a national project. In terms of homeland security, the strategy and the department have four objectives. First, they seek to avoid and interrupt acts of terrorism in the United States. Second, they aim to protect the United States—its people, resources and critical infrastructure (“Strategic Plan,” 2008; White House, n. d. ). Third, they seek to immediately act in response to problems which may occur. Lastly, they aim to maintain homeland security in the long run (White House, n. d. ).
According to the four objectives, the protection of critical infrastructures is part of the responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). What exactly are “critical infrastructures? ” Two decades ago, the word “infrastructure” was classified in terms of public works (Parfomak, 2004). However, as terrorism became prevalent in all parts of the world, its definition changed in relation to homeland security
. In Section 1016e of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 (P. L. 107-56), the definition of “critical infrastructure” is as such: ystems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters (as cited in Parfomak, 2004, p. CRS-2). This definition was eventually used by the DHS (Parfomak, 2004). Those included in the list of critical infrastructures are systems of transportation, shipping services, food industries, laboratories as well as food industries just to name a few (Parfomak, 2004).
The federal government, through the DHS, must assume a greater role in the security of critical infrastructures. They should play a more significant role in the protecting these critical infrastructures, even if these belong to the private sector. To begin with, the protection of these structures is one of the main goals of the DHS (White House, n. d. ). The DHS was created to guard the United States from terrorist attacks. Because these private critical infrastructures are situated within the United States territory, it falls under their jurisdiction.
The federal government must secure this privately-owned areas from terrorist attacks with the help of the DHS because its falls under their scope of responsibility. The need for federal government to have a greater role in securing private-sector infrastructure facilities is best illustrated by the case of the security guards. Security guards have a very important role to play in society. Their concern has always been the protection of people and property (Parfomak, 2004). It is their job to prevent crimes and other illegal activities from happening.
It is they who enforce the laws in relation to the rules of their employers. In critical infrastructures, the security guards are necessary in all protective measures. They are the first to respond to attacks, making them significant in efforts to stop terrorism before the situation is exacerbated. In 2003, an estimated one million security guards were hired in the United States alone; five percent of which were employed to secure critical infrastructures (Parfomak, 2004). Most of the critical infrastructures in the United States are privately-owned.
It is estimated that 85% of the country’s critical infrastructure are owned by the private sector (“Partnership,” 2008). This means that the security concerns of these structures are managed by private organizations. However, the security needs of these infrastructures are not being adequately met by private security agencies. Therefore, the participation of the Department of Homeland and Security is still needed. Despite the importance of security guards in protecting critical infrastructures, the effectiveness of the guards in terms of counter-terrorism efforts still depend on several factors (Parfomak, 2004).
Some of the factors include the number of on-duty guards, their requirements, salary and training. At this point, the guards’ salaries are low compared to other professionals. Only some guards are trained or require training to receive their licenses; there are fewer guards who are trained for counter-terrorism (Parfomak, 2004). Hence, if the goal is to secure the homeland, the DHS should participate in training these guards. The federal involvement in private critical infrastructure security may seem problematic. Nonetheless, in terms of security, this set-up seems to be the most ideal.
Regardless if the critical infrastructure is privately-owned or not, the security efforts must be effective. These structures must not be left susceptible to terrorist attacks. Effectiveness of counter-terrorism efforts can only be achieved if the security guards are trained in counter-terrorism. If the federal government was to play a greater role in securing these facilities, they could provide the security guards with the needed training. The DHS can subject these guards to counter-terrorism training to help them in their task.
With the help of the DHS, the guards can effectively do their part in maintaining homeland security. In addition, if it is the government’s duty to protect these privately-owned facilities, they could also provide the guards the necessary compensation sufficient for them. This could make the lives of the guards easier and encourage them to take their job seriously. In pursuit of a secure United States, there must be a partnership between the federal government and the private sector (“Partnership,” 2008).
The relationship between the private sector and the DHS can adequately meet the security needs of privately-owned critical infrastructures. Through a partnership as such, the government can access important information with regards to critical threats. This could help them assess the security programs and make the necessary changes. This can also help the government create research and development programs in relation to security (“Partnership,” 2008). In the long run, the government’s involvement in privately-owned critical infrastructure will pay off.
Not only will it help create a better security system for the said infrastructures, it will also benefit homeland security in general. In the case of private-sector infrastructure facilities in the United States, the federal government should have a more significant role in protecting these said facilities. The Department of Homeland Security was created in an effort to unify all related government agencies to secure the homeland from terrorism. One of the goals of the department is to protect all critical infrastructures, both public and private.
To begin with, the fact that these facilities are in United States territory simply means that it is the government’s responsibility to protect it. In addition, the government has resources to adequately meet the security needs of these infrastructures; an example would be the case of the security guards, wherein only the department can provide the counter-terrorism training. Lastly, a partnership between the government and the private sector can enhance the existing security programs. Hence, the Department of Homeland Security must assume duties in protecting these infrastructures.