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Homeland Security: The Role of the US Military


The September eleventh attacks created a scenario of uncertainty and intense insecurity in the country. This caused the government to accelerate earlier initiatives it had instated on participation of the US military in domestic security. The paper shall look at changes made in the US military with regard to the latter and what justifications can be made on such strategies.

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Changes in the role of the US military in homeland security

One of the major changes that occurred in the military is expansion of its domestic roles and duties. In fact, prior to the passing of such laws, a number of opponents cited the Posse Act which prohibits the military from getting too involved in law enforcement in the domestic US scene. However, it is quite evident to see that this may not necessarily be a valid point since changing military roles in domestic affairs today and in the near future scarcely involves law enforcement; instead, greater emphasis will be given to events of a larger scale such as nuclear attacks or other similar attacks. (Garamone, 2009)

The military culture in relation to domestic issues has altered dramatically because it has established that the vulnerability of the state to mass attack is quite high and that local agencies and other stakeholders that were previously designated to handle such kinds of disasters are not capable of doing so especially after 9-11. This cultural shift is first seen through the increased number of military participants as it has been estimated that over twenty thousand members will be included in such efforts. Aside from that, it has also been necessary to alter the manner of responding to domestic incidents as the element of speed has now been incorporated into these achievements. This entails intense training on all the common and uncommon forms of large scale attacks such as nuclear, biological, chemical and others. (Watson, 2008) In this regard, it has been accepted that it is possible that the US could face a series of attacks at the same time consequently; military personnel need to be trained on these grounds. One of the groups that were formed to meet such objectives was the consequence response management forces formed three years ago. The latter groups are usually trained on how to handle casualties that reach up to one million in number. Issues such as evacuation and decontamination efforts are top on the agenda of such a group. In the past, a lot of effort was given to the development and engagement of the military in such kinds of missions abroad, however after 9-11, it became apparent that such incidents could develop at home and that the Army could offer tangible solutions towards such problems. Indeed, there is a simple logic behind such an arrangement because its military capacities have been expanded to a level where they can handle multiple events in the homeland. This means that fewer attacks would not strain the country’s Defense system and it will be better placed to protect its people. (Army time, 2008)

One major problem with this new strategy lies in the fact that the reorganization of the military’s role entails dealing with a series of threats such as earthquakes, pandemic flu and the like. The major challenge to this kind of approach lies in the fact that states have specialized in particular threats. For instance, West Virginia may have focused on hurricanes while South Carolina may be dealing with chemical release. In this regard, it becomes evident that if a state has been struck by a disaster that it had not specialized, then it may have a difficult time mitigating the emergency


Increased military involvement in homeland security better prepares the country for multiple disasters as it expands its capacity. However, a few problems may crop up such as specialization by states.


Army time (2008). US Army brigade deploys for homeland security. Web.

Garamone, J. (2009). A short history of Homeland Defense. NY: US forces press service

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Watson, P. (2008). Two more units assigned for homeland security. Web. 

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