This week, The Heritage Foundation will once again host a series of events to focus on major issues facing the nation in the homeland security/defense realm. All the events are open to the public, and the readers of Security Debrief are (as always) certainly welcome.

There is a great concern over the effect the cuts pending from Sequestration will have on our defense readiness. That concern is justified, but there is an ancillary effect that is being overlooked. How will these cuts affect our wider homeland security posture? Will the Department of Defense’s losses hinder its ability to support the Department of Homeland Security and other civilian entities? Also, how will the cuts affect the National Guard? Will this bulwark of military support to our local communities be able to continue its stellar performance domestically once it has absorbed its “share” of Sequestration cuts? The event this week will attempt to answer those questions.

The first event will be held on Tuesday, August 14 at Heritage HQ (214 Mass Ave, NE), at 10:00 AM EDT. The subject is “When the Next Catastrophe Strikes: Disaster Response and Defense Support to Civil Authorities.” The panel will feature the Honorable Paul Stockton, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs (ASD – HD/ASA), the man responsible for DoD’s contributions to Homeland Security in support of the rest of the government. He will be joined by Vice Admiral (USGC, Ret.) Harvey E. Johnson Jr., the former Deputy Administrator of FEMA, who did the day-to-day management of most of the nation’s disaster responses in the period post–Hurricane Katrina. Also joining them is Dr. Jim Carafano of the Heritage Foundation. The trio will address how well America has done in the past, how prepared they are today, and what the future holds when that (unfortunately) inevitable next “bad” event occurs. A heavy focus will be on how the critical contributions of the Defense Department are folded into both plans and execution in a rapidly unfolding disaster.

The second event will take place on Wednesday, August 15 at 11:00 AM EDT (as at Heritage). The subject will be “The Price Every State Must Pay: The National Guard and Sequestration.” The panel will be the Honorable Paul F. McHale, the former (and first ever) ASD – HD/ASA, and Lieutenant General (USA, Ret.) H. Steven Blum, the former Deputy Commander of U.S. Northern Command and former Director of the National Guard Bureau. These are the two men most responsible for building the capabilities present today in the National Guard to respond to disasters in the U.S. homeland. The focus for this panel will be guided by two premises: the major cuts facing DoD under sequestration will inevitably force DoD leaders to push a significant portion of the “pain” to the Guard; and this will adversely affect the Guard’s role in support of their own state governors. This discomfort will be felt by every single state and territory, not only those with Federal military facilities.

The last panel will held on Thursday, August 16 at 1:00 PM EDT at the Longworth House Office Building (Room 1310). This panel will have myself, the Honorable Paul McHale again, and Major General (USA, Ret.) Peter Alyward. MG Alyward served with great distinction on both the Joint Staff and the staff of the National Guard Bureau as an operations planner. This panel will look specifically at the National Guard’s abilities to face the challenges of the future with regard to their homeland security/defense mission set.

All three panels will begin with short introductions and brief opening remarks by the panelists, and the bulk of the time will be given to Q&A from the audience. The goal is to take advantage of having this group of true experts to address a series of related issues that are now on the table. Sequestration will affect DoD’s ability to contribute support to homeland security. How big a decrement, and where that loss will be felt, remains to be seen.

Dr. Steven Bucci is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He was previously a lead consultant to IBM on cyber security policy. Bucci’s military and government service make him a recognized expert in the interagency process and defense of U.S. interests, particularly with regard to critical infrastructure and what he calls the productive interplay of government and the private sector. Read More