The Department of Homeland Security is celebrating its 10th anniversary. After a decade of guarding the country against all threats – man made and natural – DHS’ mission remains unchanged. This consistent, unchanging focus is in some ways laudable; it is also reason for concern. Here is a piece I wrote for Defense Media Network about DHS’ mission and the lessons learned since the department was created.

Ten Years of DHS – A Never-ending Mission and the Threat Within It – Defense Media Network

A lot can happen in a decade. Music, fashion, technology, and leadership can change in monumental ways. All you have to do is look at your phone to see that the tool you once used just to make calls can now be used to purchase movie tickets, check-in at an airline gate, and Skype/FaceTime with business colleagues and friends at almost any moment. Children, as well as hairlines (graying and receding) and waistlines (expanding) are another metric of how time has changed things. For all of those changes though, there are some things that remain the same.

In the course of recognizing the 10 years that the Department of Homeland Security has been in operation, that “sameness” is something that should be applauded, but in other ways should be of even greater concern. In terms of what remains the same, the mission the department was chartered to fulfill remains steadfast: Protect the homeland. While that mission and public focus has evolved to be more than singularly terrorism-focused to better appreciate the terror and consequences that Mother Nature unleashes in some form every day in this country – it remains the mission served.

What also remains the same is the need for the department’s mission to remain nationally focused. From Tom Ridge to Michael Chertoff to Janet Napolitano, each DHS secretary has spoken and enacted actions to bring together international, federal, state, local and tribal governments and to engage private sector and non-governmental actors of all types to do their part to prepare, partner and protect against all threats in every imaginable and unimaginable form. Along the way there have been problems, but lessons have been public, have been learned, and have been applied, at some times better than at others. Tom Ridge’s original credo of “You cannot protect the country from inside the Beltway,” remains true today.

Read the full article.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More