Assessing the changing status of homeland security and critical infrastructure protection efforts since 9/11 and identifying ways of improving efforts are necessarily qualitative endeavors. Qualitative assessments will vary according to the perceptions, perspectives, knowledge, understanding, and experience of those making the assessments.
An additional challenge in using the Homeland Security Impact Scale is that there is no precedent in human history for the kind of actions that have occurred and that may occur randomly and without warning in the future. We are in unknown territory. The full force of the implications of these realities does not seem to have been grasped. Evidence of this lies in the fact that there are those who continue to feel that traditional kinds of risk analysis, risk/benefit analysis, and vulnerability and threat assessment are as feasible and relevant post- 9/11 as they were pre-9/11. Those who grasped the implications of the changed reality recognize that "all bets are off" concerning what might happen. As a result, they may see the logic in developing and implementing plans of actions that are multi-dimensional and multi-purpose and address as many contingencies as well as possible. In the language of various fields, including emergency preparedness planning, strategies need to have a "dual use", "multi-use", or multi-hazard focus. Actions need to serve a range of possible purposes or address more than one problem, threat, or challenge simultaneously. The common denominator is that all actions need to have is that they all serve in some way to strengthen simultaneously national, economic, societal, and individual security.
If one accepts Secretary Ridge's and President Bush's stated goals of enhancing national, economic, and personal security as the goals of the Administration's homeland security efforts, then the question that follows is: What progress has been made in realizing these goals? If one assesses the impacts of the 9/11 attacks in the vicinity of the 3 - 5 range on the Homeland Security Impact Scale, then additional questions might be:
~ Have government efforts served as fully as
they need to in order to minimize these impacts?
Some maxims that might apply here include the following:
~ Deciding where we need to go depends on where you think we are; and
~ What you think we need to do depends on our perspective, experience, knowledge, understanding, and imagination and our assessment of the seriousness of the situation that we are in.
While much progress has been made during very turbulent times, there are many actions that can be taken to improve and strengthen all aspects of our security and the position that we are in. The November 2002 Hart/Rudman report and the Heritage Foundation Report (January 2002) both state that vulnerabilities continue to exist and action is urgently needed. The latest strategy documents issued by the government while detailing well many of the vulnerabilities, do not seem to include the kind of strong focus on immediate steps that could be taken that could do much to strengthen our security and the stability of our position. Some of the prescribed approaches would focus extensive resources on long term time and resource intensive studies and assessments of problems, threats, and vulnerabilities. There are, however, problems that can be and need to be addressed now and in the near term, problems that do not require the prior completion of Herculean data gathering and analysis efforts.
What More Needs to Be Done?
The government launched a first major
preparedness initiative in February of 2003. Other initiatives in a range
of other areas are evolving. The goals have been generally identified,
but to what extent do the current strategies help or hinder progress in
achieving those goals. If the strategies serve to slow action and
if they result in efforts to micromanage major elements of the problemsolving
process, what is the likelihood that they will have a stultifying effect on
the creativity and motivation of everyone involved? Creative energies
and motivation are crucial to progress. They are crucial to the winning
of wars. They are crucial to managing crises. They are crucial to
addressing challenges that are unlike any we have known before.
Where we need to be focusing our efforts at any given point in time needs to reflect an awareness of the highly changeable character of the context that we are in. At the same time, our efforts need to reflect our highest sense of purpose and direction. A major reason for this is that a common sense of purpose, direction, and mission helps ensure that we all working together to do what needs to be done. Such a sense of purpose can become what Mary Parker Follett called "an invisible leader". A common sense of purpose cultivated through "invisible" as well as visible leaders can be key to motivation, collaboration, and accomplishment. A common sense of purpose as well as a common understanding of the challenges we face, a common definition of the problem, can be key to our progress in addressing the extraordinary challenges before us.