Immediately following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, a belated but massive nationwide effort was initiated to define and examine not only the operational missions involved but also the educational and doctrinal aspects of homeland security. Critical questions focusing on basic issues – e.g., “What is Homeland Security and how should it be conducted in the United States?” – were discussed in government offices, think tanks, and military commands throughout the country. The definitions of critical terms were as varied as the broad spectrum of opinions on homeland-defense strategy. U.S. academic institutions were asking the same questions at the same time. Meanwhile, the nation’s defense industries were equally engaged, and shifted some of their top talent to develop business in the rapidly growing homeland-defense industry. 

Throughout the private sector, as well as at all levels of government – state, federal, and local – numerous “directors” of building security, port security, facility security, or computer security – many of them with little or no experience in the security field – were appointed to monitor and improve internal security. Some but not all of the basic questions have been answered. For example, the National Strategy for Homeland Security officially defined the term Homeland Security as “a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, to reduce vulnerabilities to terrorism, and to minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.” 

A Question from the Chairman

Almost simultaneously with the 2003 approval of this national-level definition, General Richard B. Myers, Critical questions focusing on basic issues were discussed in government offices, think tanks, and military commands throughout the country USAF, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked Navy Vice Admiral Paul G. Gaffney II, then president of the National Defense University (NDU),  what could and should be done to educate  NDU students about security/defense needs in the U.S. homeland. Myers recognized that members of the nation’s armed services, particularly those in senior positions of leadership, would in the future have to have a much greater understanding of homeland-security issues if, as expected, they would be required to operate closely with their civilian counterparts in other agencies during times of national crises affecting the U.S. homeland.

The first course supporting this not completely new but increasingly important role for the armed services was the Homeland Security Planner Course (HLSPC), which was developed at NDU’s Norfolk-based Joint Forces Staff College (JFSC) under the direction of Associate Professor Gerald Mitchell, a retired Army officer and former instructor at the U.S. Military Academy. The first in the new course – designed for middle-grade naval and military officers, and their civilian counterparts in other agencies – was offered in August 2003 and covers topics above and beyond naval/military doctrine and various related subjects.  “We provide an interagency perspective,” said Mitchell.

Attesting to the importance of the course is the fact that there have always been more requests for quotas within the course than there have been available seats. “We are filling an important void in professional military education,” Mitchell said, “The military/civilian interface in protection of the homeland,” he added, “requires a whole new way of thinking, with new terms and stakeholders.” 

From OSD to the Field Level and Beyond

The “plank owners” in the initial included several members of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s staff.  Since the initial offering, the course, now one of the most prestigious on the JFSC curriculum, there have been 12 es (approximately 22 students per ) that have been completed. In addition, Mitchell and JFSC staff member Cheryl Council formed five mobile training teams that have taken the curriculum to the field – including such geographically dispersed commands as the Navy’s Third Fleet headquarters in San Diego, the U.S. Northern Command, Coast Guard District Seven headquarters in Miami, and Standing Joint Task Force-Homeland Security-Norfolk.

Army Lieutenant General Russell Honore, who became a household name by providing a much-needed command presence during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, served as commanding general of the latter group and has been a frequent guest lecturer at the course.  “We get many, many more requests than we have quotas [available],” Mitchell commented. “Some pretty widespread groups have asked for the mobile training team.

”The course is broken down into the following seven major “blocks of study”: 

Block 1:  National Homeland Security Policy and Strategy;

Block 2:   National Homeland Security Plans;  

Block 3:  Department of Defense Policy, Strategy, and Plans; 

Block 4:  The Interagency Process and Players; 

Block 5:  The Joint Planning Process (Crisis Action and Deliberate Planning); 

Block 6:  Case Studies in Homeland Security; and  

Block 7:  HLS Exercise Purple Guardian. 

The “Players” studied in Block 4 are the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Northern Command; Purple Guardian is the name given to a multifaceted exercise that explores the civilian/military interface on both land and sea. To augment the key training and study topics described above, Mitchell also has brought in numerous guest lecturers, including supervisory special agents from the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG) and experts in the National Response Plan as well as a number of Coast Guard and Northern Command officials. “We have had some very senior individuals address this and talk one on one with the students,” Mitchell said. That approach, he commented, “has added a great deal to the learning environment.”

Additional information on the JFSC and its HLS Planner Course, including enrollment eligibility requirements, is available on the web at CLOSED) 

Joseph DiRenzo III

Dr. Joseph DiRenzo III is a retired Coast Guard officer. He's visiting fellows at the Joint Forces Staff College. He has written extensively on maritime security issues. Any opinions expressed in the preceding article represent their own views and are not necessarily the official views of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Christopher Doane

Christopher Doane and Dr. Joseph DiRenzo III are retired Coast Guard officers and visiting fellows at the Joint Forces Staff College. Both of them have written extensively on maritime security issues. Any opinions expressed in the preceding article represent their own views and are not necessarily the official views of the U.S. Coast Guard.

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