Umar Farouk Abdulmutullab was walking, almost literally, in the footsteps of Richard Reid when he tried to detonate an "underwear" bomb aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009. Additional jihadist attacks are inevitable - unless and until the United States changes its supposedly egalitarian screening process in favor of a more common-sense approach.
Contrary to Secretary Napolitano's rather politicized assertion that "the [U.S. aviation security] system worked," it definitely did NOT work. But it could be made immensely more effective - less costly as well - if certain common-sense, albeit politically difficult, changes were made. Beginning immediately, and starting at the top.
The numerous presidential directives and policy documents issued since the 9/11 terrorist attacks have focused on various specialized areas of homeland-security and counterterrorism operations and activities. Many of those "specialized areas" are closely interrelated in their separate but complementary goals and objectives, though, and when used in combination can achieve some synergistically beneficial results.
Most discussions about protection of the U.S. "critical infrastructure" focus on power plants, government buildings, nuclear facilities, and other high-value "things." It says here that people, U.S. citizens, both government workers and the general public - human assets, in other words - also need protection and, in fact, should be at the top of the list.
"Resilience" used to be an after-thought in preparedness planning. Today it is not only a fundamental principle, an ultimate goal, and an essential guideline, but also the concrete foundation (literally as well as figuratively) of long-range policies, funding decisions, and effective response and recovery operations.
Two CNA officials discuss the once frequently ignored relevance of Resilience - yes, with a capital "R" - as a major component of the U.S. "Grand Strategy" for homeland-security and how it evolved from a passing thought to a sudden realization and eventually to a nationally known buzzword.
Prevention, Response, and Recovery used to be the principal objectives of the U.S. homeland-security strategy. That blessed trinity has now expanded to a better balanced quartet, thanks in large part to various studies and official reports that have focused public and political attention on the need for Resilience as well.
Goal: Ensure that all goes well before, during, and after a major public event. How to do so: Prepare an all-contingency plan, well in advance and involving all stakeholders involved, provide enough flexibility to cope with unexpected/unforeseeable "what if" contingencies, then practice, practice, practice.
Today's well dressed emergency responder may not be featured in many fashion magazines and/or on TV commercials, but the personal protective equipment he or she is wearing is not only functional but also, usually, a very tight fit. An accessory bonus: It might also save his or her life.
How does one measure preparedness, particularly in the field of homeland defense? Slowly, most of the time - and very carefully - is the correct answer. But there are other relevant questions that first must be answered. What is being measured, for example? And who, or what agency, is in charge of the measuring? And how will the measurements taken being used?