The Department of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the United states is a department of the US federal government that was created as a response to the 9/11 attacks, and was tasked with the responsibility, primarily, of protecting the United States territory and its protectorates from terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and responding to man-made accidents. Eleven days after the terrorist attacks in September 11, 2001, Tom Ridge, the then Pennsylvania Governor, was appointed the first Director to the Homeland Security office in the White House. The office coordinated and oversaw a national strategy that was comprehensive to safeguard and respond to any terrorist attacks and other attacks in the United States.

With the enactment by the congress of the Homeland Security Act in November 2002, the Department of Homeland Security came became a Cabinet-level department that could stand alone, so that it could further unify and coordinate the national homeland security activities, and became operational in March 1, 2003 (White & Markowski, 2010). It is on this day that the DHS fully took up the Immigration and Naturalization Service as well as its duties. In so doing, it the services and enforcement functions were divided into two new agencies, the Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

To provide an incident management approach that is consistent for the federal, local, state, and tribal governments, the National Incident Management System (NIMS), according to Walsh (2012), was created exactly, exactly one year later. It is a proactive, systematic approach that guides agencies and departments in all levels of nongovernmental organizations, government and the private sector provide synergy to manage all incidents that involves all hazards and threats, regardless of the cause, size, or location. Every federal departments is required to adopt the NIMS, provided under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5, and is supposed to apply it in their own individual incident management, preparedness and emergency prevention, practices, as well as mitigation program and activities.

According to the 2nd edition of the National Response Framework (NRF), the NIMS provides the NRF with the incident management basis and defines the management structures and standard command. The National Response Framework, therefore, is a guide on how all types of emergencies and disasters are responded to by the nation. It was created in December 2004 to align the federal coordination capabilities, structures and resources into an approach to the management of domestic incident that is unified.

With the standard command for the incident management, there was now need to have a strategic outline of the activities involved in Homeland security. This led to a Quadrennial review of the homeland security, known as the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR). It was created for the purpose of outlining the strategic framework that guides the activities of the participants in the homeland security department towards a common end, as was the case in the first QHSR in 2010. It laid out the five mission areas, vision, and goals and objectives for homeland security.

For the whole nation to be secure, it means that the nation’s critical infrastructure must also be secure, and must have the ability to withstand and recover from any form of hazard. That said, it is important to have proactive and coordinated efforts to secure, maintain and strengthen the functioning of the critical infrastructure, which includes assets, systems and networks. This is what is deemed vital to the public confidence, as well as the Nation’s prosperity, safety, and well-being. This endeavor is a shared responsibility among Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial entities, and public and private owners and operators of critical infrastructure. CIKR means “Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources,” which is a term used to refer to the assets of the U.S essential to the nation’s security, and much more.

For the protection if critical infrastructure to be unified and effective, President George W. Bush signed the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7 (HSPD-7) on the December 17th 2003, so as to establish a national policy for departments and agencies in the federal level to identify, prioritize, and protect critical infrastructure from terrorist attacks. This directive defines the relevant terms and delivers up to 31 policy statements, including the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), which are policies that define what this directive covers, as well as the roles carried out by various state, federal, and local agencies (Ellis, 2014). The NIPP for example, was put in place to protect the CIKR and ensure resiliency. It is considered a useful mechanism for the development of coordination between the government (federal) and the private sector.

Upon HSPD-7, there was another directive penned in 30th January 2004, to establish a national policy that defends the agricultural system as well as the food system from terrorist attacks and other major disasters and emergencies. This is the HSPD-9, which is a directive that added food and other agricultural produce to the list of CIKR, and overseeing them protected as much as the other infrastructure laid down in the HSPD-7 are.


Ellis, J. (2014). Fundamentals of homeland security: An operations perspective. Springfield:

Charles C Thomas Publisher

Walsh, D. (2012). National incident management system: Principles and practice (2nd ed.).

Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

White, R., & Markowski, T. (2010). The United States Department of Homeland Security: An

overview (2nd ed.). New York: [Pearson] Learning Solutions.

Homeland Security. (2009, November 19). Retrieved November 14, 2015, from