1800 K St., NW
Washington, DC 20006
REDEFINING THE CONCEPTUAL BORDERS
OF HOMELAND DEFENSE
It is no small irony
that despite the triumphant end of the Cold War and the absence of major
conflicts in the world, direct threats to the American "Homeland"
have intensified. The unwelcome fact is that the post-Cold War period
leaves the United States exposed to new threats to which it is particularly
vulnerable. The bombings of the World Trade Center and the federal building
in Oklahoma City, the sarin gas attack on the subway in Tokyo, the launch
by North Korea of a three-stage missile, and the attempt by Yugoslavia
to "hack" into NATO's computers in March 1999 have focused the
policy community on the capability the U.S. needs to defend its Homeland.
Defending the American Homeland against new threats such as terrorism,
weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles, and information warfare
has become a "hot" topic in the public policy world. Research
to identify American vulnerabilities, access the scope of the threats,
and develop appropriate responses is now underway. For the most part though,
this research and analysis is taking place in separate and discrete fields.
For example, missile defense, information warfare, weapons of mass destruction,
and terrorism - all of which are part of Homeland Defense - are being
treated in distinct analytical orbits that overlap very little. There
are now some dozen governmental commissions treating facets of these separate
areas but within no overall strategic or analytical context.
This compartmentation presents a wide range of problems. First, it is
not clear what risks and vulnerabilities should be considered as part
of Homeland Defense. Second, the risks presented by some threats are very
high. This is particularly true of direct or terrorist use of weapons
of mass destruction. At the same time, it is very difficult to assign
overall probabilities and priorities to either individual threats or the
vulnerabilities to each threat. Third, many defensive measures involve
high costs and/or complex changes in the operation of federal, state,
and local governments and in the private sector. It is easy to develop
individual "wish lists" regarding possible defensives, but any
real-world solution requires careful prioritization and the creation of
a budget and program plan the nation can afford. Fourth, the phrase Homeland
Defense does not mean the US can take action in isolation from the need
to consider programs to defend its allies, and the role its allies can
play in critical aspects of Homeland Defense like warning and counter-terrorism.
Thus, the separate recommendations of the groups studying these problems
could work at cross-purposes to each other if implemented by the United
States. There is an acute need for an overarching effort that would bring
together the best thinking in all these areas and examine all these tactical
issues as part of a comprehensive strategic challenge for the United States.
The CSIS Homeland Defense project seeks to bring together the various
piece-meal policy investigations and analyses that are part of the new
security calculus, and carry out the additional program, budget, and organizational
analysis necessary to develop a comprehensive approach to Homeland Defense.
This approach has the following major elements:
- Threat assessment
and prioritization - establishing a clear hierarchy in terms of the
threats that must be addressed, their seriousness, and their probability
over a timeline of 10-20 years.
- Assessing and prioritizing
vulnerabilities at home.
of homeland defense responses in terms of defensive measures, with an
identification of probable cost, timeline, and effectiveness.
- Examining the role
of other countries and the lessons to be learned
- Analysis of current
and planned federal, state, local, and private roles in implementing
- Development of
a proposal program budget cutting across different types of threats
and responses that describes the course of action the US government
might pursue over the next five-ten years.
- Development of
a proposed organizational hierarchy proposing the proper role of given
elements in federal, state, and local governments, and the private sector.
The project involves
the development of a independent analysis that provides draft report in
each of the above areas. This draft will be developed within the CSIS,
but it will be developed on the basis of extensive informal consultation
with US government officials, influential scholars, policy makers, and
Any such draft will be inherently controversial. It will have to cut across
well-established analytic and bureaucratic lines, and will have to made
difficult cost-benefit decisions and trade-offs. It is also clear that
the threat and vulnerability analysis of given problems is often far more
developed than the examination of costs, and possible impacts on the federal
budget. This means that the initial draft will often have to be based
on rough estimates that will have to be steadily refined with time.
As a result, the CSIS is using a series of expert working groups to refine
the analysis of individual threats and solutions, while consulting with
a range of policymakers, experts, and leaders in the private sector to
develop a final report that will present a comprehensive approach and
conceptual policy framework for addressing Homeland Defense issues and
their policy implications. It is the first project-inside or outside of
government-that addresses Homeland Defense issues as a whole rather than
as disparate parts. It will also identify key areas and issues that require
policy decisions and/or further analysis, and areas where there are alternative
solutions and views that must be considered by senior policymakers.
By pulling together the best thinking in these fields into an integrated
framework, CSIS seeks to advance the strategic thinking about the issues
related to Homeland Defense. While such an effort cannot produce detailed
answers to all the issues involved, it should be possible to generate
a deliberately broad conceptual and policy framework, or "architecture,"
into which the results of the various research efforts can be better grouped,
better understood, and better translated into policy options and responses.
of substance on Homeland Defense should be addressed to Joseph
Collins, the Project Director. Administrative questions should be
addressed to Gabrielle Bowdoin,
the lead administrator.