Homeland Security Defined
While the term ‘homeland security’ has changed over the years, its basic definition remains an American national security umbrella term for the national effort to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards where American interests, aspirations, and ways of life can thrive. Homeland security is a national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism, and minimize the damage from attacks that do occur.
The federal government has strengthened the security and resilience of the United States through systematic preparation for the threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation, including acts of terrorism, cyber-attacks, pandemics, and catastrophic natural disasters. The United States government developed an integrated, whole-Nation, capabilities-based approach to preparedness by instilling a national preparedness system that includes a series of integrated national planning frameworks. These frameworks cover prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery and are built upon scalable, flexible, and adaptable coordinating structures to align key roles and responsibilities to deliver the necessary capabilities. The frameworks are coordinated under a unified system that uses common terminology and approaches, builds upon basic plans that support an all-hazards approach to preparedness, and utilizes functional or incident annexes to describe any unique requirements for particular threats or scenarios. Each framework describes how actions taken are coordinated with relevant actions described in the other frameworks across the preparedness spectrum.
Homeland security is a subset of national security and they are both inextricably linked. National security is the security and defense of a nation state, including its citizens, economy, and institutions, which is regarded as a duty of government. Originally conceived as protection against military attack, national security is now widely understood to include non-military dimensions, such as security from terrorism, minimization of crime, economic security, energy security, environmental security, food security, and cyber-security. Similarly, national security risks involve international threats, such as cyber criminals and violent non-state extremists; as well as the domestic threats posed by hazardous material releases and natural disasters. Governments rely on a range of measures, including political, economic, military power, and diplomacy, to safeguard the security of a nation-state. They may also act to build the conditions of security regionally and internationally by reducing transnational causes of insecurity, such as climate change, economic inequality, political exclusion, and nuclear proliferation.
OHS’s Approach to Homeland Security
OHS’s mission and tasks are aligned to Goals 1-3 of the FY 2018-2022 EPA Strategic Plan and the Transformation Strategy. Specifically, they pertain to the broader strategies of the Office of the Administrator (OA) to protect human health, prevent contamination, and restore the environment through effective partnerships, shared accountability, robust science, compliance, and streamlined processes.
Empower and strengthen EPA Programs and Regions by informing national security decisions and policy-making efforts, countering threats to agency equities and interests, expanding agency resources through effective partnerships, and providing a national capability to coordinate and integrate Homeland Security resources.
A resilient EPA which is prepared to protect human health and environment in the event of national security threats and incidents.
- Inform Agency Senior Leadership and Staff of national security priorities and decisions
- Coordinate and provide leadership on national security policy development and intelligence matters
- Counter national security threats by enhancing Agency homeland security Programs and leveraging external partners
- Provide leadership in Agency homeland security-related organizational effectiveness
- Foster a resilient mindset within the Agency’s disaster preparedness effort (prevention, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation)
Through the completion of its mission and attainment of these goals and objectives, OHS’s vision shows a resilient EPA which is prepared to protect human health and environment in the event of national security threats and incidents.