In order to answer all the questions of the DHS and the United States’ emergency paradigm, this paper will lay out definitions of terms and ideas that will be used in our study of the United States’ internal security preparedness as well theories that explain this policy. Thereafter, the paper will focus on examining the success of the Homeland security, and its failures. The conclusion of this paper is a suggestion that a new paradigm in the understanding of security and emergency preparedness is required to lay emphasis on security threats that are most likely to happen. While the war on terror is at the prime of American emergency and security preparedness, it is a bit naïve to center the national emergency management on terrorism alone. Diversification of emergency and security may be necessary responses so that the country’s exposure to harm when catastrophe hit is limited (Abbort, 2005).
Emergency management arguably offers the most rational approach for handling calamities and large-scale catastrophes. Emergency management is necessary for handling any form of calamity ranging from human calamities such as terrorists attacks, homicide, or accidents. In addition, emergency management assists in handling natural calamities such as floods, tsunamis, earthquakes amongst others. With effective emergency plans, a nation is capable of reducing damage from disasters and save lots of cash and money as well as harm. This explains why emergency management is an important aspect of defense in the neo- security paradigms of the twenty first century (William, 2003).
The reasons for an effective emergency preparedness are obvious. First, a sound emergency management is ideal for rescuing disaster victims. If executed correctly and with all the required supplies, an emergency management plan has the capability of reducing deaths accruing from a disaster by tenfold. Second, victims from emergencies are able to get prompt treatment based on their need. Moreover, an effective disaster management plan is helpful in recovering from shock and stagnation arising from the occurrence of the disaster. In most cases, emergency management is helpful in aiding a society rebuild itself in a way that protects it from such catastrophe again (Burmgarner, 2008).
In order to rectify the structural disorganization that characterizes the top organs of the emergency management units of the United States, Warmuth (2009) suggests the reorganization of the departments pertaining to homeland security. One way of restructuring the homeland security is through merging the National Security Council with the Homeland Security Council. This will form a large organization with multitasks that include both homeland security and national defense. According to Warmuth, this will be helpful to the national security agenda because homeland security is equally important the defense of the nation from outside security threats. Moreover, homeland security is an international security agenda if the hazard is multinational. Warmuth posits that if the two organizations are merged, there will be an increase in the ability of effective management of homeland security issues. This is because it will be possible to adopt holistic strategies that are beneficial to the Department of Defense and that of Homeland Security. Besides, it will be possible for the security agenda to get political backing as well limited bureaucracy.
Another important reorganization that Warmuth argues for in the Department of Homeland Security is the establishment of a clear chain of command in the DHS. Giving the secretary of homeland security the ability of coordinating the federal’s emergency management programs has two repercussions. First, it could save the DHS the power wrangles that have thwarted the DHS from carrying out its functions. Second, there will be a closer chain of command from the president to the field level on the DHS. In addition, the shadowy association of DHS and FEMA is partly responsible for the failure of the DHS to handle hurricane Katrina efficiently. There should also be a division of labor between the two agencies. Arguably, this new organization should have the secretary of homeland security as the principal federal coordinator as enshrined in the HSPDS-S and directly reports to the president. Accordingly, FEMA administrator ought to be the technocrat on emergency management. The key role of FEMA should be advising the president on emergency matters. However, it should be clear that the FEMA administrator is subordinate to the secretary of Homeland Security (Hansen, & Schramm, 1993).
William C Nicholson argues that concentrating on terrorism funding at the expense of other forms of emergency mitigation is disastrous for effective emergency management. In the 1980s, FEMA made the same mistakes when it located seventy-five percent of its resources to fighting effects of nuclear programs. Eventually, when natural disasters hit, FEMA did not have money to handle their impacts at the local levels. This lead to loss of money and property after the United States was hit by perennial hurricanes in 1980s. Hurricane Katrina is yet another demonstration that over focusing one area in disaster management is unhealthy. The response to hurricane Katrina shows that there is a lot lacking in the area of emergency preparedness and recovery process. The United States emergency preparedness ought to focus on diversity in terms of emergency preparedness. Equal priority should be given to all forms of hazards instead on focusing on deterring terrorists alone. Only through this, can the United States emergency managers sit pretty knowing that their emergency management plan is capable of handling any anticipated threats.
Emergency management as field also should redefine itself to cope up with the changing times. Instead of the single mindset approach, practitioners would be better off if they embraced the multidisciplinary paradigm that emergency management has taken. Emergency managers are thus more helpful if they are well rounded, flexible, and aware of the need to be dynamic with the market demand. With the changing nature of the field of emergency management and globalization, emergency management has become an international career with global expectations, there is the need to be prepared for challenges that are not only American but also global. These challenges range from international catastrophes such as terrorist attacks, climatic disasters, tsunamis amongst others.
Abbott, E. B. (2005). A legal guide to Homeland Security and Emergency Management for State and Local Governments (O. J. Hetzel, Trans.). Chicago, IL: American Bar Association.
Bumgarner, J. B. (2008). Emergency Management: a Reference Handbook. Santa Barbar, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc
Nicholson, William C. (2003). Emergency Response and Emergency Management Law: Cases and Materials. Springfield, IL. Charles C. Thomas, LTD.
Varghese, M. (2002). Distaster Recovery. Boston: Course Technology.
Wormuth, C. (2008/2009, January/February). The Next Catastrophe: Ready or Not? Washington Quarterly, Vol. 32 (no 1), p93-106.