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Potential Integration of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

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Potential Integration of Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

Do you think that a potential integration of homeland security and counterterrorism is good for you?

From an emergency management standpoint, this possibility presents both virtue and vice. Why should I ponder that on this forum anyway?

I am inclined to think about this based on President Obama ‘s February 23 Presidential Study Directive. This directive indicatates an inter-agency review to enhance The White House ‘s purview of counterterrorism and homeland security. For more on this, check: http://www.fas.org/irp/



My assessment is that the potential integration of these two agencies presents good, bad and ugly issues.

The Good:

Certainly by integrating both agencies, I believe that critical issues and differing voices on preparedness and response will get to be at the same table. Just the fact that this study could lead to an integration is good for emergency management because it enhance exchange of views, strategies and common lessons on how to deal with short term or long term crises.

Secondly, based on incident command system principles, a possible integration could lead enhance unified command. This is good because it streamlines resources and and makes mobilization more effective.

The Bad:

One of the pitfalls of integration is that it may encourage “groupthink”. In other words, the more two agency staff are around one another, the less likely they can tackle problems independently with more creativity and ingenuity. 

Secondly, if it is executed without forethought and foresight, it may compromise the ICS principle of unity of command. If the number of reporting subordinates exceeds a reasonable number that supports effectiveness, then, during a time of mayhem, integration may become weak link in the response system. 

The Ugly

Each time, there is centralization, bureaucracy is at work. Depending on how you look at it, centralization is not the most effective way of getting things done in an age of specialization and democratization. This appears to be against the current because instead of spreading out resources, this study might potentially lead to a situation in which fewer hands are doing the work that odd to be done by more nimble hands.

Think about it.