On September 11, 2001, the United States of America suffered terrible terrorist attacks. Al Qaeda terrorists were believed to be behind the attacks. They hijacked four jetliners and crashed two into the Twin Towers, one into the pentagon and the last one into a field near rural-Pennsylvania. The death toll resulting from the suicide attacks was close to 3000. Since the attacks, the President and all levels of government have worked hard to protect America from any other similar attacks. The invention of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was one of the ways of curbing reoccurrence of such an event. It is a single department established with the primary mission to protect the American people and their homeland. The department was created on March 1, 2003 and brought together 22 federal agencies.
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The Biggest Challenge Facing DHS
DHS faces many challenges. The biggest challenge which it seems to be dealing with since it was created is the issue concerning the broader DHS environment. According to Michael Jackson who served as DHS Secretary for two years, the biggest challenge facing this department is interrelatedness. Being able to come up with a solid department that is well supported by other government units in fighting the vice is still a big bottleneck.
One of the retired coast guards who worked with the department for almost two years believes that there is need for better collaboration. With the support of the private sector as well as other key players and stakeholders, this department can be greatly improved in its efforts to fight terrorism (National Academy of Public Administration, 2009).
The report by the Homeland Security Advisory Council to DHS Secretary titled Top Ten Challenges Facing the Next Secretary of Homeland Security states that Homeland Security is more than just a single cabinet department. DHS has a unique need to be integrated with other organizations and groups in the government. In order to ensure the security of America, there is need to share responsibility with other federal departments and agencies. Intelligence Community, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice together with DHS should foster good relations with each other. It is mandatory for DHS to continue to build its ability to act as a leader in Homeland security issues between different agencies. Homeland Security requires to be integrated vertically with the state, federal, local governments. In addition it also needs to be integrated with the private, non-profit sectors and the American citizens to ensure safety, security and resilience in the country (Homeland Security Advisory Council, 2008, p. 8).
It is essential to build and improve upon existing systems designed for engagement with the private sector. The private sector should be engaged in order to improve working relationships on proposed strategies, policies and procedures of homeland security when they are being formulated and before they are published or implemented. Lastly, the views of the local leaders concerning plans, processes and programs by homeland security need to be listened to since the Homeland cannot be secure when the hometowns are not (Homeland Security Advisory Council, 2008, p. 9).
The Biggest Challenge Facing DHS in the Next Five Years
In the next five years, the biggest challenge faced by DHS will be the ability to sustain our nation’s Homeland Security efforts. Due to current economic struggles, the state, the federal and local governments may neglect responsibility to finance long-term efforts of Homeland Security (Homeland Security Advisory Council, 2008, p. 15). This would greatly affect the operations of this important security arm. However, all efforts should be put in place to ensure that the operations of Department of Homeland Security are upheld and supported to enhance the security of the citizens.
Since its inception, this department has been very vital in ensuring the security of the American citizens is not compromised. Despite being very useful, this department is faced with numerous challenges such as integration with the private sector to enhance its operations. Ensuring cohesion in the Department of Homeland Security might take time but with dedication from all stakeholders, this may become a reality.
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- National Academy of Public Administration. (2009). Department of Homeland Security, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
- Homeland Security Advisory Council. (2008). Top Ten Challenges Facing the Next Secretary of Homeland Security.