Week 1: Question 1
From the description of the works of different administrations in dealing with homeland security and defense, the Nixon administration (1969 – 1974) did the most work in improving homeland security. The administration came at a time when the country was facing several security related issues as a result of natural and external disasters, which proved to the country that a preparedness strategy was required. The issues of civil defense and homeland security were considered a national priority at that time unlike during the previous regimes where it was a matter of low priority. The Johnson administration (1963- 1969) on the other hand, did the least work in improving defense. This could be attributed to the low probability of threats at the time (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2006). A series of natural disasters and the Vietnam War impacted negatively on the national capacity to expand its civil defense and emergency preparation prospects.
While Johnson’s administration had been unable to improve the national defense preparation in the country, Nixon’s administration used the unstable political and environmental conditions as drivers of change motivation. One of the major transformations made by the Nixon’s administration was inclusion of natural disasters as part of the security threats to the country. Previously, all efforts made by administrations in enhancing defense preparation were related to educating the masses, including federal and state administrations in the protective activities and defining threats by virtue of their external origin. The Nixon’s administration was also the first to allocate funds for natural disaster preparedness. Through the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency (DCPA), the administration managed to bolster civil defense from non-existence to robustness. Moreover, Nixon negotiated with the Soviet Union, which had been the major threat to security, to limit their defensive weapon capabilities. In this way, the administration used a dual approach to homeland defense, which was acceptable to both the state and the federal government system.
Week 2: Question 3
In his journal article, Riedman (2015) opines that the efforts of the federal and state governments to enhance security protections against critical infrastructure may not bear much fruit due to the discrepancies in the definitions accorded to the critical infrastructure. Riedman posits that as much as government efforts are commendable, this discrepancy could imply that what is actually protected under critical infrastructure may not be at risk of terrorist attack. According to Riedman, the government should instead use a risk evaluation based approach to come up with a refined categorization of infrastructures whose destruction could cause the most debilitating impacts. The arguments provided by Riedman seen reasonable in as much as critical infrastructure definition is concerned. However, asserting that some of the infrastructures should be left out of the defense plan is somewhat irrational. This is because while extremist attacks target the areas where most debilitating impacts can be achieved, they also retaliatory attacks, which may target those other infrastructures that are considered not so critical. As such, a risk matrix could be used, not to eliminate some of the infrastructure from infrastructure protection (IP) categorization but to allocate funds that are commensurate to the probability – impact mix of the different infrastructures.
Incentives for attack by terrorists vary depending on the targets. From war to religious differences, extremists work with the sole objective of extermination. Any infrastructure considered capable of resulting in the greatest detriment is a potential target for extremist alert. As such, it can be said that terrorists always have the motivation to attack critical infrastructure. The incentive however depends on the existing conditions at the time of attack. Capabilities for attack on the other hand entail finances and personnel, which extremists have an abundance of depending on their needs. Using religious facilities as training grounds for extremism, it becomes easy for such groups to access personnel. At the same time, there are many benevolent members of the society, who would be willing to fund terrorist activities as long as they align to the individual goals and objectives.
Week 3: Question 5
Airline safety is one of the biggest determinants of passenger choice in the aviation industry. As such airline companies strive to optimize customer comfort and also to ensure that customers have that sense of safety when using the airline. The TSA will always make efforts to ensure that passenger safety in airlines is not in vain through assuring customers of their safety in all facilities related to air travels. Although the recent turn of events in safety procedures at TSA may pose questions to potential users, it is important to note that all decisions have been made in consideration of all passengers. For instance, the TSA is assured that allowing small knives and some sports equipment would not pose a security threat to passengers. The TSA recognizes the importance of sports and that denying players the opportunity to pursue their dreams due to travel restrictions would be unreasonable. The reversal was made by incorporating passenger concerns in the decision. As much as people will be allowed in with such gear, the TSA procedures are clear on how airlines should handle such case. People coming in with small knives or sports equipment have to show proof in the form of professional affiliations, that they need that equipment at their destinations. Airlines then have to take custody of any such elements and store them appropriately until arrival. Passengers and everyone else should not therefore, be concerned about their security by virtue of this new development.
The new development is also pegged on the TSA’s security priorities. The top three priorities include passenger safety, proactive hazard and risk management and a systematic approach to safety. Every decision made by the TSA therefore are aimed at ensuring every passenger is safe, identifiable risks and hazards such as the small knives and small equipments are controlled and handled safely and that the approach to safety is both systematic and self regulatory, especially for the airlines. As a TSA executive, the overriding priority among these is passenger safety.
Week 4: Question 7
Based on the contemporary society characteristics and the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prevent or reduce threats to homeland security, safeguarding and securing the national cyberspace poses the greatest concern to critical infrastructure protection. This view is based on the fact that cyber attacks are a threat to critical infrastructure facilities used to manage water, power, and telecommunication and transport systems. Through the internet of things, the operations of various critical infrastructures are connected to the internet and to other infrastructures such that an attack on one would cause debilitating effects on others. Terrorists have the capacity to use cyber ware in criminal activity against the federal and state infrastructure implies that the DHS has to invest in cyber security solutions that foster incident identification, response and reporting capabilities and through which cyber security law enforcement can be practiced. Continuous collaboration with the private sector, lowering barriers to partnership and promoting advanced technology for business support can help the DHS in achieving cyber- security objectives.
While maintaining cyber security could be an important driver of risk in the coming years, there are various scenarios described as black swans that can change the position of the DHS significantly. These black swans include: rapid adoption of manufacturing technology driven changes, the change of the country into a failed state, increase in the population of hostile non-state actors and abrupt impacts of climate change (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2014). These black swans describe some of the most impactful changes to the national security systems yet should be classified by the probability/ consequence characteristics of each. Preparations for disaster management by the DHS should entail trainings, sensitization and communications regarding the four swans.
Week 5: Question 10
The water distribution system is one of the most critical infrastructures in the world today. The diverse use of water and its absolute necessity implies that it can easily be used as a weapon or strategy for distraction. The water sector is therefore highly vulnerable to terrorist attack through biological, physical or chemical pollution. The entire sector is vulnerable since all components of the system are crucial for life. The treatment processes could be infiltrated to cause harm to users both at an industrial scale and within the household. Depending on the incentives or motivations of terrorist groups, they could easily use water resources as the point of contact with citizens and subsequently subject other infrastructures to harm. The interdependence between the water sector and other industries makes water all the more vulnerable and therefore in need of more stringent protection.
Water is the mainstay of all industrial operations. In the food manufacturing industry, water is a major contributor to the manufacturing process. Even the waste water systems are at risk of attack since most of the water that passes through the systems is recycled to other operational areas of the economy. The probability of dilution as a cure to pollution could be most effective if only a small percentage of contaminants is added to a water facility. However, this may also work only for physical and chemical contaminants. Biological contaminants such as viruses prolific in some environments and having a low level of contamination would not automatically exempt the users from the impacts of the attacks. It is therefore the prerogative of the department of health and human services to ensure all water facilities are safe for use in all sectors.
Riedman, D. (2015). How critical is critical infrastructure? Calhoun: The NPS Institutional Archive DSpace Repository. Retrieved from calhoun.nps.edu/bitstream/handle/10945/47320/15Sep_Riedman_David.pdf?sequence=1
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (2006). Civil defense and homeland security: A short History of national preparedness efforts. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved from
U.S Department of Homeland Security (2014). The 2014 Quadrennial homeland security review. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved from www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/2014-qhsr-final-508.pdf