U.S Department of Homeland Security’s Creation and How it Helps Stop Terrorism in the U.S

U.S Department of Homeland Security’s Creation and How it Helps Stop Terrorism in the U.S

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U.S Department of Homeland Security’s Creation and How it Helps Stop Terrorism in the U.S


            The United States Department of Homeland Security, DHS, is one of the largest agencies in the United States with its purpose being that of ascertaining the safety and security of the nation’s citizens. It is also tasked with ensuring that the populace is safeguarded from natural disasters. While attempting to manage different duties, DHS concentrates on federal arrangements such as border security, customs administration, and crisis management. It is considered a cabinet department within the U.S federal government that deals with any threats that seek to violate people’s civil liberties. The agency works with a variety of organizations that are affiliated with the cabinet to ensure that they build effectiveness and strengthen the security enterprise. Several challenges that range from technological vulnerabilities to natural disasters warrant the need to establish national agencies that deal with various issues that have permeated the contemporary society. The agency possesses numerous features that assist it in dealing with such matters while approaching them within the confines of the law. The creation of the United States Department of Homeland Security has been instrumental in dealing with terrorism in the United States, consequently making it an indispensable entity in keeping the nation safe.


Creation of DHS

The history of DHS can be traced back to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that had a significant impact on the political, social, and economic aspects of life in the United States. The creation of the agency can be attributed to the unification of twenty-two federal agencies to form an integrated department. Since its formation, the DHS headquarters have been located in Washington, D.C., in the Nebraska Avenue Complex (Oleynik, 2005). The location was a former naval facility that has been equipped with the necessary amenities to support the activities of the agency. A proposal by Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Arlen Specter sought to create the DHS after the 9/11 attacks by terrorists (Bullock, Haddow, & Coppola, 2015). In 2003, DHS began operations after being instituted by President George W. Bush in 2002. Initially, the office was controlled by the preceding Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge with a mission to develop and coordinate an inclusive strategy for securing the United States. The current secretary of the DHS is former Marine Corps General John F. Kelly.

DHS relies on the effort of a variety of administrators and employees to achieve its objective on safety. A primary goal of the Bush administration was to bring under a single roof various law-enforcement, immigration, and anti-terrorism bodies accounting for the 240,000 employees in different disciplines. The mission of the integrated department states, “With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values” (White, Markowski, & Collins, 2010). To achieve this, DHS purposed the creation of a new National Threat Advisory system that employed color-coded levels to express the state of the nation’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks (Bullock, Haddow, & Coppola, 2015). Officers and employers are required to prepare for any future attacks to establish contingency plans and minimize the effects created. Since then, the integrated department has been deployed to handle natural catastrophes such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, as well as Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused significant damage to infrastructure as well as substantial loss of life. Catastrophic damage was experienced in the Gulf Coast after levees around the city were breached. The events of the calamity led to numerous people being stranded, and houses being flooded. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, was accused of a slow response by the federal administration leading to the need to create an inclusive agency that would spearhead a response in case of any future calamities (White, Markowski, & Collins, 2010). While such agencies were included in the formation process, controversy regarding the position of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency and the protection of department employees was imminent. However, a review of its strategy, as well as the role of the investigative divisions and intelligence gathering units, sought to accentuate its core values that include integrity, vigilance, and respect.

The creation of the DHS took into account the operational and support components that would assist them in achieving their overarching goal of eliminating terrorism. In this regard, DHS is responsible for the acquisition and use of national resources. It issues contracts to private and public entities, consequently playing an essential role in aiding their objectives by providing goods and services, a service that the agency has undertaken since its inception. DHS provides a list of budget documents from the financial year 2003 to the fiscal year 2019. The data includes budget briefs, verity sheets, summaries, and links to the Office of Management and Budget, OMB, overviews. The largest spenders within the department include FEMA that spends about 14.6 billion dollars, the United States Coast Guard with an expenditure of approximately 13.6 billion dollars, the United States Customs Service spending about 8.4 billion dollars, the Transportation Security Administration with 8.04 billion dollars, and Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement with about 5.3 billion dollars in its outlay (White, Markowski, & Collins, 2010). DHS forms a significant part of increasing the nature of transparency and concentrating all efforts on identifying and mitigating potential security threats. Through the department’s Efficiency Review, responsiveness has improved leading to benchmarked practices that promote diverse workforces.

Stopping Terrorism

            Terrorism continues to be a significant security challenge for law enforcers and the society. Consequently, the Department of Homeland Security made terrorism their highest priority owing to an increase in the number of threats. The agency understands the evolving nature of terrorist threats that includes the use of chemical, biological, nuclear, and explosive weapons. The risks may emerge from within the country or from external forces. In this regard, DHS has approached terrorist threats by utilizing a risk-based layered perspective (White, Markowski, & Collins, 2010). A risk-based approach to security deviates from the traditional concept of identifying potential threats, and it incorporates the perception of different agencies regarding the propensity and scope of the effect created by particular terrorist hazards. It also accounts for the techniques utilized by necessary officers in reporting the identified threats to appropriate and responsible authorities. Fighting terrorism requires the cooperation of other federal agencies as well as international allies.

            Terrorists and other adversaries are rapidly adopting weapons of mass destructions in their ploy to undermine the security and safety of the United States and its citizens. In response to such risk factors, the DHS is inclined to employing an integrated approach that blends aptitude, operations, interagency commitment, and international acts. A weapon of mass destruction is considered a nuclear, chemical, biological, or radiological device that purposes to harm an extensive population. With the application of technology in different fields, terrorists have identified ways of creating weapons of mass destruction that have potentially catastrophic implications. In response to such threats, DHS has created the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, CWMD, an office that attempts to streamline and elevate efforts in identifying and preventing terrorists from using harmful agents (Bullock, Haddow, & Coppola, 2015). The office consolidates most of DHS functions allowing for the integration and coordination of policy as well as strategic planning during essential missions.

            DHS recognizes that to stop terrorism, the agency needs to establish critical infrastructure security. Critical infrastructure is the backbone of most economic, health, and security components. DHS creates essential foundations that can suffice when dealing with different attacks, as well as assist in recovery from these assaults. In this case, DHS engages proactive and coordinated steps that are essential in strengthening the secured, executable, and resilient infrastructure. The implication is that federal, state, local, and tribal entities need to possess a shared responsibility regarding identifying and exposing terrorist activities. DHS provides strategic guidance to its private and public partners while countering terrorist efforts (Koestler-Grack, 2007). The agency has implemented the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, NIPP, which defines vital reserve defense responsibilities that the businesses, communities, and local governments across the United States should seek to understand and develop. It promotes information sharing, ensuring that resilience is established in case of an attack.

            Improvised explosive devices, IEDs, continue to be among the commonly used weapons of choice by terrorists, considering the ease of assembly and accessibility, as well as their capacity to cause harm. To stop terrorist attacks using IEDs, DHS possesses an Office for Bombing Prevention that pioneers and synchronizes the nation’s efforts towards counter-IEDs to reduce risks of explosive offenses. Most counter-IEDs efforts are channeled towards decisive infrastructures such as private and federal offices and entities (Koestler-Grack, 2007). Such an approach towards stopping terrorism ensures that citizens can access special programs targeted towards preventing bombings. It avails IED awareness information as well as a gap analysis to determine the vulnerability of various locations. IEDs have been considered transnational threats, consequently warranting the need to engage in collaborative efforts, particularly among state and local collaborators. Multiple teams such as those utilizing explosive detection canines, as well as Special Weapons and Tactics, SWAT, have been distributed in targeted zones to actualize IED prevention capabilities.

            The DHS works closely with members of the community to expand their collaborative efforts and ability to identify potential threats. The society plays an essential role in maintaining safety and security. DHS encourages community members to report any suspicious activity. The program allows people to contact local law enforcement agencies and inform them of what or whom they saw, when and where they saw it, and detailed reasons on why it was suspicious (Oleynik, 2005). In most cases, it is possible to ignore daily events with the perception that increased vigilance does not contribute to the well-being and health of the community. However, suspicious behavior and activities need to be reported to respective authorities who will engage the DHS and other departments in verifying the scope and credibility of the threat.

            Interactive communication is one of the approaches that DHS employs while stopping terrorism. Through the National Terrorism Advisory System, NTAS, DHS can avail timely and detailed information regarding any terrorist threats. Advisories play an essential role in this process as they are tasked with summarizing the details of the potential risk factors and ensuring that the members of the community understand the scope of the threat (Bullock, Haddow, & Coppola, 2015). Among the most effective advisories used by NTAS include bulletins and alerts. Bulletins released by the secretary to DHS guide protective measures that may be pursued by the security partners or the public. In case of an imminent threat, DHS is required to share an NTAS Alert to the community detailing the nature, geographic positioning, and the potential effects of the threat.

            DHS uses Real ID to determine the credibility and authenticity of a person’s citizenship. The REAL ID Act establishes principles for license issuance and fabrication from states that meet the Act’s minimum standards. The government’s national security framework considers driver licenses and credentials as essential identification documents. Such a move seeks to ensure that domestic terrorists are identified and dealt with efficiently. Local citizens may be radicalized to commit terrorist acts (Oleynik, 2005). The approach has been accentuated by the internet and social media tools that are used to recruit locals to a cause. DHS employs terrorism prevention partnerships to identify violent extremists posing a threat to the security and safety of the people. It has launched the Countering Violent Extremism, CVE, Grant Program that offers counter-violent extremist courses. The purpose of such programs is to enhance education and community awareness based on the imminent terrorist threats.


            The United States Department of Homeland Security, DHS, was created to deal with the increasing security threats that are primarily in the form of terrorism and cybersecurity. The organization was launched in 2002. It began operations in 2003 and has more than 240,000 employees. It was instituted as an immediate response to the destructive terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, by congregating 22 security departments. Before being launched, the department created a strategy that sought to reorganize the federal government’s approach towards national security threats. DHS has made terrorism a significant priority in its objectives by taking significant steps in its strategy towards identifying risks and eliminating adversaries. While dealing with terrorism, DHS concentrates on several issues. The primary concerns include weapons of mass destruction, improvised explosive devices, critical infrastructure security, cyber terrorism, implementing the National Terrorism Advisory System, NTAS, and building partnerships geared to alleviate national disasters. While this is the case, DHS has proposed multiple reforms in its operations revolving around the distribution of funds to local and state governments to increase their efforts in the identification and prevention of terrorist threats.


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Bullock, J. A., Haddow, G. D., & Coppola, D. P. (2015). Introduction to homeland security: Principles of all-hazards risk management (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Koestler-Grack, R. A. (2007). The Department of Homeland Security. New York, NY: Chelsea House.Bottom of Form

Oleynik, I. S. (2004). United States. Department of Homeland Security: Handbook. Washington, DC: International Business Publications, Inc.

White, R., Markowski, T. & Collins, K. (2010). The United States Department of Homeland Security: An overview. New York, NY: Pearson Learning Solutions.

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