An interview with Stephen Flynn Kaplan named the Homeland Security ‘Report Card’ gives us an overview of Flynn’s take on the role played by Homeland Security in enhancing protection against terrorism and other disasters. Through this interview, Flynn allocates different scores showing the effectiveness of different DHS operations or subsectors as it marked its fifth anniversary since it was established under Bush’s administration. This is an important evaluation which should be considered on a regular basis so as to improve the performance of different DHS operations.
Stephen Flynn, a CFR’s leading security expert, conveys different perceptions concerning the formulation, the purpose, and functions of the Department of Homeland Security. According to Flynn, the approval of the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security by President Bush was done in a fast and an ineffective manner. There was little strategic attention on top-down law enforcement and border focused security responsibilities assigned to the new homeland security team. Flynn adds that this challenge was passed over to Obama’s administration whereby the organization of the Department has continued to be haphazard; there has hardly been any coherent strategy improvement in risk management in both the civil society and the private sector.
The recommendations made by Flynn points out specific areas of interest where he perceives the Homeland Security, as well as the public and the private sectors, could contribute towards improving the security status of the United States. His first recommendation is that President Obama should break away from the predicament caused by Bush’s strategies by improving threat resilience. The building of national resilience would involve four main components which are robustness, readiness, rapid recovery, and adaptation (Flynn, 2009).
The element of robustness would basically involve the improvement of basic and critical services and infrastructure systems such as public health, public safety, and information systems to ensure that they are strong enough to withstand security threats.
Readiness, on the other hand, emphasizes disaster preparedness which mainly depends on the ability of people and not technology.
Flynn insists that people should always be ready to identify and manage challenges when a disaster strikes. In rapid recovery, Flynn points out that the Community and Regional Resilience Initiative (CARRI) should be able to identify all the resources need to restore the community as soon as possible after the occurrence of a risk. Finally, the recommendation made on adaptation is that people should learn from the lessons learned from other disasters and should be willing to change their normal routines so as to improve robustness to face a disaster.
From Flynn’s recommendation, one can see a connection between the roles and responsibilities assigned to the Homeland Security and the role which should be played by both the public and private institutions in the United States. I would support some of the practical steps proposed to the Obama’s administration as an approach of enhancing the operations of the Department of Homeland Security. One of them would be to make the DHS political positions to be career positions similar to the CIA and the FBI (Flynn, 2009).
In this recommendation, I would add that the government should develop a budget to oversee the implementation of this strategy as it will encourage people’s contribution towards enhancing the operations, functions, and effectiveness of the DHS. Also, I would add that performance evaluation of specific operations such as Port Security, Air Defense, Airport Security, Disaster Response and other operations should be treated as individual entities whereby the DHS can specialize on improving their performance.
This will encourage the citizens who are concerned with the respective areas to improve their cooperation with the DHS personnel towards information sharing in such a manner that they won’t perceive access of their private information as the infringement of their privacy.
The Nuclear Plant Security was the best performing subsector with a score of B/B+. This was an area of critical focus even before the 9/11 attack since people were more concerned with the security dimensions when dealing with nuclear materials. The Air Defense was given a B due to the improvements which have been implemented after the 9/11 attack. This has improved DHS ability to monitor flying vessels which are coming onto the U.S. soil. This is also linked to the Airport Security which was given a C+ grade due to the improvement of passenger and baggage screening as the DHS focuses on reducing the vulnerability of threats which might exist in air cargo or in planes.
The Border Control and Immigration received a C score due to the challenges experienced with implementing the immigration and upholding the United States interests. The same score has been issued to the Bridges, Tunnels, and Other Infrastructure (Kaplan, 2006). The worst performing subsector is the Chemical Plant Security with a D-/F due to the limited authority is given to the DHS to monitor security plans in different chemical facilities in the United States. Nonetheless, the recommendations shared by Flynn seeks to rectify the previous mistakes and neglect by the government so that the DHS can improve their performance.
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