March 29, 2005 | Commentary on Department of Homeland Security
Since the 9/11 attacks, U.S. policy-makers have shown a renewed appreciation for the importance of homeland security and how it fits into our defense of the nation as a whole. But this appreciation doesn't always translate into action.
Take the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) that Congress mandates for the Department of Defense (DoD). It has yet to establish any such requirement for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or to create a means to review how the two departments fit together in the overall national security effort.
By clearly defining agency functions, both the DoD and DHS can
minimize overlap and focus on known responsibilities. Furthermore,
such an overview would define the security roles of agencies beyond
DoD and DHS and help ensure they don't perform duties better
carried out by other governmental entities.
The QDR has been used to shape and explain defense policies, military strategy, decisions about how our forces are structured and resources allocated. Yet, three significant problems still plague the QDR process:
The National Defense Panel provided an overall assessment of the nation's national security during the first QDR. But since then, defense reviews and assessments of other security needs have not been linked.
The failure to do so can be deadly. In 1998, President Bill Clinton's administration and Congress established a U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century to conduct a broad national assessment similar to the National Defense Panel. But the commission's reports weren't linked to the QDR. Its results were largely ignored - even though it predicted terrorist attacks on the scale of 9/11 and foresaw the need for a Department of Homeland Security.
Nowhere is the need for a detailed assessment on the scale of the QDR more important than in homeland security. "DHS 2.0: Rethinking the Department of Homeland Security," a report by The Heritage Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, clearly establishes the need for Congress to re-evaluate DHS roles and resources and how they fit with other federal domestic security efforts.
In addition, Congress needs to undertake a post-9/11 assessment of the nation's security apparatus, particularly U.S. public diplomacy and foreign assistance programs, the defense industrial base, the intelligence community and the use of space. Specifically, Congress should:
We've already seen - and paid - the price for overlooking
homeland security. Let's not let that happen again.
James Jay Carafano is a senior research fellow for defense and homeland security at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared on DefenseNews.com