National security is the prime object and the most important purpose of government. Citizens get into a social contract to ensure that their life and property are safeguarded by the government. Public security is one of the most challenging issues that affect the governance of both western Nations and the developing countries. Without a peaceful and conducive environment the economy will not thrive, and the area will scare way investors. A case in point is Syria. When the Middle East country plunged into civil war, multinational corporations pulled out of the country. Syria is an illustration of a government that failed to accord its citizens the necessary public security and, as a result the country plunged deep into political and international obscurity.
Regardless of the military superiority of the country or the position of the country in the global investment index, the country will at one point experience an emergency situation. An emergency situation can arise from terrorism attack, torrential rainfall that causes floods or an earthquake that causes massive destruction of property. In the case of planned and intentional terrorism attack, intelligence organizations and association need to carry out prior intelligence activities to reduce the probability of a national disaster that is beyond the scope of the law enforcement agencies.
The United Sates government drafted the National Response plan in 2004. The National Response Plan is a series of steps and procedures that are supposed to be followed in the event of a national disaster or a devastating terrorist attack. In December 2008, the National Response plan was replaced by the National Response Framework. The United States government was the first engaged in a national emergency situation, in 1803, in the Portsmouth fire incident. The Congress passed the Congressional Act of 1803 to provide relief food and emergency services to the victims of the devastating fire. For over a century and a half the government operated without a comprehensive emergency plan. The United States of America mad the first step towards an emergency plan in 1979. President Jimmy Carter issued an executive order creating the Federal Emergency management Services (FEMA).
The Agency took the roles of the several disjoined emergency organizations. The congress passed the Stafford Disaster and Emergency Management Act. The act required states and local governments to establish their own emergency plans. The federal government would only come in when there is a serious emergency situation that is beyond the scope of the local government. The Stafford Act authorized the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to prepare a comprehensive federal emergency response plan. The plan would entail other plans such as the National Contingency Plan that was drafted by the National Environment Agency. In 1994, the Stafford Disaster and Emergency Management Act was amended to incorporate the civil defense act of 1950. When James Lee Witt was appointed by President Bill Clinton to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency shifted and created emergency response plans for all hazards that might strike the United States of America. In 1996, the Federal Emergency and Management Agency helped the individual states to develop their own emergency response plans. FEMA was absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security when it was formed in 2003. The Department of Homeland Security was formed in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks by Osama Bin Laden. The Department of Homeland Security revised the National emergency response plan. The National Response plan acquired the force of law in 2004. In the event of an emergency, the responsibility first falls on the local government. When the local government has exhausted its resources, it is supposed to request for help from the county level. In the event that the disaster is beyond the scope of the county, the county would request for help from the state government. The majority of the emergency situations are usually handled up to the state level. If the situation is overwhelming the state resources, the state will then request for help from the federal government. In the event that the risk is widespread, the Department of Homeland security takes charge to prevent the negative consequences that may be produced by the uncoordinated responses by the local government, state forces and the federal governments.
In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security developed the national response framework. The NRF provides the principles that dictate the measures that will be taken by the government and the domestic partners in the event of an emergency. The NRF is applicable at any time in the occurrence of a national disaster and or when emergency plans are required. The National Response Framework is an improvement of the National Incident management System and the National Command System (ICS). The National Response Framework was published on the Federal Register and came into effect sixty days later, and it subsequently replaced the National Response Plan.
One of the most emphasized principles in the NRF is the principle of the engaged partnership. Under this principle, the National and local leaders are supposed to collaborate and come up with similar response goals that will ensure that neither of the levels of government is overwhelmed by the disaster. The principle of engaged partnerships also ensures that the response activities are coordinated and, therefore, they are not counterproductive. Tiered response that was evident in the National Response Plan was also incorporated in the National Response Framework states that the lowest jurisdictional level handles the emergency situation. Depending on the progression of the emergency situation or the National disaster, different methods are implemented with the sole aim of combating the disaster. The National Response Framework usually involves the use of English as the command language to control and manage all the ICS and NIMs resources. English act as a unifying language that coordinates the activities of all the command centers across jurisdictions.
Since the dawn of western civilization the human race has never invented a device that can effectively forecast future events. That means that an emergency situation can occur at any time. The effectiveness of the National Response Framework depends on the readiness of the emergency response units to act. The NRF relies on the households and all levels of government to respond to an emergency situation expeditiously.
The NRF had roots in the Prussian General staff of 1870. The United States Army adopted the organizational and the functional structure from the Prussians. With the authorization by the president, the United States military can be included in the National Response Framework. The Department of Homeland Security aims at creating a living system that can easily be revised and corrected depending on the emergency situation.
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Chertoff, M. (2009). Homeland Security: Assessing the First Five Years. New York: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Jenkins, W. (2007). National Response Framework: FEMA Needs Policies and Procedures to Better Integrate Non-Federal Stakeholders in the Revision Process. New York: DIANE Publishing.
Struat, D. (2009). Creating the National Security State: A History of the Law That Transformed America. New York: Princeton University Press.