On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced steps to enhance security at more than 9,500 U.S. federal buildings amid the ongoing threat of attacks from extremist groups. The Federal Protective Service is challenged to secure thousands of buildings where some 1.4 million people pass through each day, and the new steps highlight growing public concern over how ready the United States is to halt threats large and small – and in what way.
Obama Administration’s fumbled response to the Ebola threat has both political parties giving the President’s team a resounding thumbs down. To calm an anxious public, the President decided to tap a veteran Washington political insider, Ron Klain, to coordinate the messaging and response going forward. This is a suspect decision with hints of politics where there should be none.
There are thousands of stories passed down from one generation to the next. As the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, it is time to share stories of that day so we can continue the mosaic collection that forms the picture of our lives today in a post-9/11 world.
If being a “good listener” is a trait of being a good leader, then Dr. Reginald Brothers, the relatively new DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology, is well on his way to being the type of leader that DHS S&T needs. Now that he has been in his position for several months, there are no longer any outside restrictions on structural or personnel changes he can make, should he choose to do so. But will he?
There are no words to describe the horror of the video showing the execution of American journalist James Foley at the hands of ISIS. Today, radicalization is spreading, and religious, civic, and cultural leaders on every continent have a responsibility to step forward to address it. Sadly, those voices don’t seem to be as loud or as savvy as the video we all saw last week.
One of the challenges when a tragic event occurs is communicating to the public about it. What do seasoned professionals cite as most important in responding to devastating incidents? I reached out to two friends and former colleagues to get their take on how people should look to respond to “bad days.”
Last Thursday, a chemical storage tank leaked about 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol into the Elk River, just one mile upstream from the West Virginia American Water plant. Thankfully, the water plant owner was forward thinking enough to invest in preparedness before an immediate need arose. This undoubtedly helped the plant respond to the chemical leak. Something tells me there’s a lesson there.
On October 10, 2001, I stood in the field of wreckage of the World Trade Center. Now, a dozen years later, I returned to the site of that destruction and terror. The memory of 9/11 persists, but the wreckage is long gone, replaced by the One World Trade Center. On this 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, building a resilient nation is as important as it has ever been. The World Trade Center site offers many lessons in that regard.
As the Boston area recovers from the tragic and unprecedented events of the past week, the lessons learned will be far reaching. Emergency management professionals, like their counterparts in law enforcement, are pretty good culturally at pulling together “after-action” reports that chronicle what they did right and what they can do better next time. Those lessons learned will offer new chapters to study and consider in terms of planning and preparations for any future incidents of this magnitude but in terms of the private sector, there are a number of lessons learned that need to be studied as well.