Homeland Security Grows Up: What Do the Teenage Years Hold?

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Homeland Security Grows Up: What Do the Teenage Years Hold?
By: Adam Cox

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will be 14 years old when the next secretary is sworn in in 2017. Comprising approximately two dozen separate components, the department has a very diverse set of responsibilities and missions spanning the prevention of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism to recovery from major natural disasters. With current trends and economic growth projections of 2 to 5 percent annually in such areas as international air travel and commerce via container ships, the department continues to face a growing and more complex operational environment. This leads to, and in fact necessitates, a very near-term, operational focus at almost all levels of leadership across the department. In response to the anticipated growth and changing mission set, CSIS is reinvigorating its Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program (HSCP) starting with events this summer involving the department and CSIS HSCP affiliates. The next year’s activities will focus on the broad questions of what challenges DHS will face in the coming decade and what recommended steps the department’s senior leaders could take to prepare for those missions.

The HSCP affiliates are a group of former DHS senior leaders and experts who volunteer their knowledge and expertise to CSIS on topics of interest. As CSIS’s new DHS visiting fellow, I will be working with the affiliates to execute a homeland security agenda that helps prepare the coming administration for the next decade. The affiliates plan to hold at least three significant homeland security–focused events per year. These events and other activities will focus on homeland security issues of national significance, such as the implications of immigration reform; methods to protect against violent homegrown extremism; incorporating risk-based decisionmaking and security practices; improving air travel security; obtaining situational awareness and control of the border; screening cargo security; and departmental acquisition reform. In addition to moderated panel discussions, the affiliates plan to produce written homeland security–focused thought pieces, podcasts on homeland security issues, and coordinated social media content. I welcome your input.

Adam Cox is a visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), working on homeland security and technology-related issues. Other posts by .


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