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2015 State of National Preparedness

National Preparedness
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

By Kevin Taylor

Faculty Member, Homeland Security at American Military University

In 2011, President Obama put forth the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-8) that dealt directly with the all-encompassing issue of national preparedness. The president recognized that every facet of our society (whole community) was needed to accomplish such a daunting task; strengthening the security and resilience of the United States.

A number of initiatives and products have resulted from this Directive; one being the National Preparedness Goal. This document highlights a number of core capabilities, those distinct, critical elements that are essential for the execution of each of the five mission areas (prevention, protection, mitigation, response & recovery). To get a finger on the pulse of how progress is being made (or not) concerning this Goal, PPD-8 also required the production of a National Preparedness Report on an annual basis.

Recently, the 2015 version of this Report was released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), one that highlighted a number of issues that outline both national trends and additional findings for each of the five preparedness mission areas. The following offers but a brief review of some of the initiatives taking place in these areas.

It should be noted that this mission area is the only one of the five that deals solely with issues related to terrorism. To that end, various initiatives have been undertaken in order to enhance collaborative efforts of the public/private sector partnership. For instance, DHS’s Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) disseminated numerous situational awareness and current situation reports to thousands of its critical infrastructure partners.

The Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity was released by NIST to assist organizations in managing cybersecurity risks. To aid in this effort, DHS created the Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community (C3) Voluntary Program, a DHS effort designed to assist governments, businesses, as well as academia with both implementation and development of sector-specific guidance for using the framework.

Effective mitigation begins with risk identification, in which a community identifies the threats it faces and the likelihood of such occurrences. One initiative seeks to promote and prioritize green infrastructure due to its potential economic, environmental and risk-reduction benefits. As an example, in accordance with recommendations from the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, steps are being taken to determine how this infrastructure can be used to protect and enhance the resilience of our Nation’s communities, particularly in coastal areas.

-Response. The increase in both frequency and levels of violence of mass shooting incidents has prompted whole community partners to take action aimed at managing active shooter events. One example is the document, Incorporating Active Shooter Incident Planning into Health Care Facility Emergency Operations Plans, a joint effort of the Department of Health and Human Services, the FBI and FEMA.

-Recovery. Federal and nongovernmental organizations are collaborating to develop new information-sharing resources for recovery efforts. These include the Disaster Assessment and Assistance Dashboard: an online platform intended to be used by citizens, businesses and governments alike. It maps nearby environmental hazards, shared resources, as well as the ability for state and local governments to access various local resources in order to promote local economic recovery while rebuilding after a disaster.

These examples offer but a thumbnail sketch of the many steps taken by those within the homeland security enterprise. The full 2015 National Preparedness Report, as well as overviews related to each mission area can be accessed at www.fema.gov. For more information concerning the many homeland security programs at AMU that relate to these issues, you can visit AMUonline.com.

About the Author

Kevin Taylor possesses a M.A. in Security Studies from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and a M.S. in Adult and Technical Education from Marshall University.  He currently serves as an instructor within the School of Security and Global Studies teaching classes pertinent to the homeland security enterprise.