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The Homeland Security

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Free «The Homeland Security» Essay Sample


Nowadays, the possibility of the threatening attack has gathered all the world’s governments in an attempt of creating a security institution. For the United States, the turning point was the events that took place in September 11, 2001. After this tragedy, the government assembled in order to discuss the idea of creating the branch in the federal government that would help to prevent such attacks and strengthen the community. The time has come to form the institution that will be organized, structured, conscious, and responsible for the maintaining of the national safety. The outcome was as follows – the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This institution has a rather deep history, however being quite young. During the time of its development, the DHS transformed from the impulsive-summoned group of people to the organized system providing a significant percentage of security to the United States.

This paper is aimed at analyzing the core principles of the DHS, its organization and functions. It also gives alternative strategies to compare with the processing one. The SWOT analysis enabled the possibility to make conclusions and fully understand the main point of the department and its ways of strengthening. In a nutshell, the aim of the paper is to give recommendations upon fixing the lack of collaboration amongst the security agencies within the DHS. Enhancing collaboration is the way for the institution to cooperate well and ensure individual and group safety of the Americans.

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Therefore, the following discussion is an attempt to assess the basic and supplemental functions of the Department of Homeland Security. The conducted theoretical analysis of the provided sources allowed to form a conclusion upon the ability (or inability) of the DHS to work properly and in accordance with the principles stated. The complex analysis made it possible to form the recommendations on improving the way the department functions.


First of all, one should note that the Homeland Security Department is a rather new institution created within the governmental system of the USA. It was organized after the sadly known September 11 events, when the authorities realized the real hazard was posed upon America. The idea occurred among the Federal Government, the US Congress, and the White House to form the special Department of Homeland Security (Bullock, Haddow, & Coppola, 2013). Nevertheless, the first thoughts on this issue rose even before the tragedy. However, the possible threats were not taken as urgent. Anyway, the hazards forced the US government to reorganize its priorities. Its member realized that the special institution had to be established.

Therefore, the Homeland Security Department was founded, ensuring the US safety, resistance, and security against any hazard (Homeland Security, 2016). It was presented as an alliance of the various institutions working as a single machine (however, one would see they did not manage to). There are different elements in the structure of the system now: US Citizenship and Immigration Services, US Customs and Border Protection, US Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and several others. These institutions work together in order to ensure the complete safety of the United States and its population. The organization chart is included in the supplemental materials and depicts the hierarchy of the department.

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Plenty of people from both private and governmental sectors are involved in performing the functions of the department. Some of them work directly with the population to convey the information concerning major missions, and others do the very job. Among the latter, there are people conducting researches, developing technologies, and preparing for resisting the threats (Homeland Security, 2016).

There also exists such an issue as financial support. The problem of funding seems endless providing that the costs of the DHS’ functioning would not match the exact amount of money assigned to the expense. Therefore, the funding aimed at supporting other institutions is redirected to the DHS, which is actually against the very policy (Mitchell & Pate, 2003). There should be special finances devoted only to the Homeland Security in order to prevent further complications.

Current Strategy

Different authorities are faced with a detailed list of risks and threats to the country’s security, for which they attempt to plan afterwards as the whole point of Homeland Security is to manage risks threatening the United States. However, dealing with such issues takes almost the whole time of the organisation. This fact leads to significant human and financial expences.

The current strategy of the Department of Homeland Security is based on and depicted in the Department of Homeland Security strategic plan, fiscal years 2012-2016. This federal document consists of the aims and goals needed for the full performance of the department’s responsibilities. As it is stated, the plan depicts the basic principles of the so-called “open government”. These principles are as follows: public participation, collaboration, and transparency (Homeland Security, n.d.). This features demonstrate the desire of the department to be honest and open to the people of the US at a maximum level.

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The Department of Homeland Security functions in accordance with five core missions: “preventing terrorism and enhancing security; securing and managing the borders; enforcing and administering the immigration laws; safeguarding and securing cyberspace; and ensuring resilience to disasters” (Homeland Security, n.d.). These missions show the holistic approach to the country’s security and complete department’s strategy.

According to the first mission, the Homeland Security should first and foremost protect the country from terrorist attacks. This issue is partly explained by the fact that the very idea of the department occurred after the mentioned terrorist attacks. Apart from that, the institution must prevent non-legalized usage of the CBRN materials, which is a topical question nowadays. Furthermore, the vulnerability to different attacks and interventions is decreased as for ensuring the complete protection of the infrastructures (Homeland Security, n.d.).

The second mission’s goals are quite obvious resulting in the protection of any border of the country. These measures are taken to prevent illegal entries as well as exits to and from the country; they also deal with imports and exports. Moreover, the department is to ensure lawful traveling and trading. These functions allow the Homeland Security to control the flows of people and commodities within and outside of the US. They make it possible to maintain external relations between the country and its neighbors, regulate these links, and, naturally, catch and monitor different illegal groups while preventing them from breaking the federal laws (Homeland Security, n.d.).

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Besides, the Department of Homeland Security strengthens the system of the US. It administers the latter by setting appropriate laws and makes sure there is a difference between legal and illegal immigration. The DHS monitors all the enterings to the country in order to prevent unlawful crossing the borders quickly and effectively. This mission somehow crisscrosses with the previous, however being more specialized (Homeland Security, n.d.).

Guarding and securing cyberspace is undoubtedly one of the most (if not the most) important issues in the era of information. The DHS states that cyberspace and its contents are vulnerable to either physical or cyber attack (Homeland Security, 2015). Unfortunately, a significant amount of crimes is performed today through the internet. This fact leads to the necessity of developing a stable protection. Therefore, the DHS claims to inform the population of the risks and create a safe environment. It is particularly important in the situation of prioritized cyber issues (Homeland Security, n.d.).

The last but not the least responsibilities of the DHS is to build a safe and strong community. The department is to reduce the susceptibility of the people from the very individuals and families to the whole population. Apart from strengthening the community, the DHS is responsible for preparing them for any possible hazard and ensure they will properly respond and, what is even more important, recover after such a situation (Homeland Security, n.d.). It is crucial when building a modern community, sink or swim as they say.

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The most valuable part of the plan is definitely the point of ever enforcing and developing the DHS itself. It is crucial for the federal department to understand that there is always something to strive for even in spite of how hard they work. Therefore, this part of the strategic plan demonstrates the will to changes and fulfills any requirements ahead.

Brief Description of Alternative Scenarios and Associated Risks

The main aim of the paper is to find an alternative way for the DHS to function and give a complex safety to the Americans. Therefore, it is necesary to provide some variations of how to cope with the troubles. In general, the Department of Homeland Security needs to build the essential boundaries in the modern world between the United States and other countries. This way would definitely help the department to act quickly and more effectively. Apart from that, the institution should develop and expand its forces against cyber terror. This includes technology development, conducting modern researches on gathering all possible data for the needs of the department. All in all, combining the forces of the whole world and preparing for the unexpected hazards is significant for the maintaining of the country’s safety.

If moving on to more detailed approaches, one can mention the weak spots of the Department of Homeland Security in the context of the functions’ improvements. Here are the descriptions of what can be done:

  • As it was stated above, the Department of Homeland Security is a composite organization consisting of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, US Customs and Border Protection, US Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center among others. Judging from this, one can say that the department is way too large and definitely wasteful (if only thinking of the number of employees). Unfortunately, due to the quantity, there exists a lack of organization within the department and between its components. It leads to the fact that all institutions work under the same simple code of communication. However, it is communication that is essential in the functioning of DHS. All of its components should mutually exchange information as it will be of great help in tracking the terrorists down.
  • Despite its large number of institutions, the DHS might not have sometimes the personnel to manage different events. It all happens just because of the department being overloaded with the tasks. Thus, it cannot process them all and give an appropriate response. To overcome this issue, the DHS has to manage its businesses from one exact office in Washington D.C. instead of giving this to the regional offices to handle. It would allow the employees to be specialized in one particular area but not in the whole department’s functioning. Each section would be given a task to perform, and no misunderstandings and delays will occur as the authority will be in one office.

Therefore, to gain the complex and effective management, the DHS has to merge its departments (if they have complimentary and duplicate roles) in order to achieve high-efficiency levels in security affairs.

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Alternative Strategies and Recommended Changes to Current Posture and Processes

Nevertheless, there are still breaches in the Department of Homeland Security. It is clear that after creating the DHS, the US population had the feeling that everything was taken under control and the department will provide 100% security. It is an illusion. Naturally, the DHS is well-structured and organized; however, it cannot protect the US on its own. Along with that, in its functioning (gathering information, for example), the DHS can cross the boundaries and invade the private lives of the average people living in the US (Mitchell & Pate, 2003).

The SWOT analysis allows evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the Department of Homeland Security. It is performed from two perspectives: internal (the first two characteristics are evaluated as parts of the very organization) and external (the other two characteristics are evaluated as parts of the external relations). First of all, the strengths will be assessed. The DHS has formed integrative authority within the government that firmly states its priorities and aims. As for the terrorist attacks, the department tracks down and prevents them successfully, ensuring the US population of their freedom and life in general. The Science and Technology Directorate conduct research and inform people of the risks and possible hazards, which is the crucial feature in the modern world. It has minimized the imagined future attacks, and it is a significant step forward. Furthermore, the DHS cooperates with other countries and shares experience, information, and data to ensure the complex safety for the whole world (Livvarcin, Soyak, & Uzpeder, 2006).

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However, where there are strengths, there are weaknesses as well. The department fails to oppose to the terrorists without giving damage to the core principles of the American culture – the freedom and the democracy. In addition, the American nation is characterized as an open one, and this may cause some troubles. The ill-wishers can get too close in their attempts of penetrating into the US (Livvarcin, Soyak, & Uzpeder, 2006). As another weakness, the cyberspace shows up. It is ever developing, and this causes troubles as the DHS, and its cybersecurity should tune to it.

The threats are as follows: the media as the most powerful tool nowadays, the variable character of hazards, and the hidden support (Livvarcin, Soyak, & Uzpeder, 2006). The information flows transform anything in their way, and that is the reason they are so hard to stand to. The cyberspace is able to strike at any moment, which probably should rank this threat in the first place. However, the lawbreakers as well as the hazards and attacks are dynamic and may change over time while getting adapted to any circumstances. Thus, the DHS should develop its strengths in order to beat the enemies in a proper way. The hidden support is an issues that can sometimes even tell the legal authorities to secretly support hazards and terrorism (Livvarcin, Soyak, & Uzpeder, 2006). It is one of the most coward problems as no one can ever know who hides under the mask of a polite and lawful person.

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The final step in the SWOT analysis is the opportunities the DHS has. Being aware that danger may strike at any time, the department is considering some useful links. One body is no body, therefore, the DHS should strengthen the boundaries between the US and other world to gain international support. All of the nations have come to a conclusion that the allies must unite in order to win. Therefore, the countries all over the world need to unite for preventing hazards from happening and ensuring complete security and safety for the population. The number of alliances should increase because this is the only way to succeed in the war with terrorists (Livvarcin, Soyak, & Uzpeder, 2006).

Executive Summary

In conclusion, some comparison may be done to ensure the complex understanding of the problem. As it turned out, the Department of Homeland Security functions at a high but not at the highest level. This tendency emerged from the above-mentioned problems of the institution. To understand what changes should be provided, the SWOT analysis was performed assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Now, one can compare the current strategy of the DHS to the alternative ways of functioning.

The ongoing strategic plan is based on the key principles of the open government, at least on paper. To be closer to the people, the DHS demonstrates public participation, collaboration, and transparency as the basic platform of such a style of the authority. However, there are issues with the second principle. As one might have already noticed, the former disable proper communication between the parts of the institution. Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security continues its functioning along five major ways:

  1. preventing terrorism and enhancing security;
  2. securing and managing the borders;
  3. enforcing and administering the immigration laws;
  4. safeguarding and securing cyberspace;
  5. ensuring resilience to disasters.

These approaches are highly valuable; however, they do not prevent the department from failing to correspond to the effective strategy of functioning. The main troubles preventing the DHS from success are as follows. Due to the latitude of the institution, one can observe the lack of organization and proper management structure within the department and between its branches. The significant principle, communication, is not adhered to, which leads to the complications of the solved cases. As a result, the structural elements of the Department of Homeland Security should communicate to deal with the hazards. Furthermore, the DHS has to enter the changes into the management process throughout the institution. The office in Washington D.C. should handle all of the issues in order to prevent unprepared employees from doing the wrong job.

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There are some advantages as well as disadvantages in the style and process of ensuring safety and security in the United States. However, the DHS has the potential and desire to change; therefore, it would become more organized and effective institution in the near future.

The paper effectively analyzed the core principles of the DHS, its organization and functions. It also gave the alternative strategies to compare with the processing one. The aim of the paper was reached as it provided the recommendations upon fixing the lack of collaboration amongst the security agencies within the Department of Homeland Security. Enhancing collaboration was recognized as an appropriate way for the department to work well. The individual and group safety of the American citizens can be achieved at full level (100% success).

To sum up, one may notice the conducted research assessed the basic and supplemental functions of the Department of Homeland Security along with analyzing its white spots. As a result, the DHS is not considered to work properly and in accordance with the principles stated in the code. However, the whole level of functioning is sufficient for providing significant security. Anyway, to ensure maximum safety, the Department of Homeland Security has to develop its core branches even more.

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