You’ve scene it…the person in line at the airport security check, giving security a hard time because the metal detector keeps beeping at them. “This is ridiculous! I have a flight to catch,” the person complains. “I’m just doing my job, sir,” the security person responds. The truth is that when 9/11 happened, America changed. For safety measures, we endured bare feet on the airport floor, showing 10 forms of I.D. to open bank accounts, did without blankets and thermoses of hot cocoa at cold football games, and many other things…all for the sake of preventing terrorist acts. Once so eager to pull together and do whatever was needed to ensure a safer America, we later became irritated with the rules the government created to secure our safety. Some Americans gripe about the government spending billions on a department that, to some of us, seems useless. Why do we need Homeland Security when we have the military? To fully understand why they are both important, we have to understand what they do.
Homeland Security and Homeland Defense…same thing, right? Actually, they aren’t. Both are directed by completely different heads within the Cabinet. Simply stated, DHS is kind of like law enforcement. They protect our borders, help us out when natural disasters occur and provide many other services to keep things safe here on the home front. DHS is responsible for many government agencies, such as the FBI, the CIA and the National Guard (Greenspan, p.1), that play a role in keeping America from chaos.
Homeland Defense, in contrast, focuses on warfighting (JFQ, p 10). Their mission is “to provide military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of the United States” (DOD, p.33). Homeland Defense is responsible for the military…Army, Navy (Marines) and Air Force. USNORTHCOM (United States Northern Command), more specifically, handles domestic issues with regard to utilizing the military. When you cut out the fancy-schmancy wording, they both share the same mission…to protect the United States. The Department of Homeland Security works with what they have until they exhaust all of their resources, or until a war-type issue arises. That’s when Homeland Defense, or home-based military, comes into play. Assistant Secretary Paul McHale hit the nail on the head when he said, “Rumsfield (now Robert Gates) is the warfighter, and Chertoff is one of our nation’s senior law enforcement officials (JFQ, p. 11).
If you compare this subject to socks and shoes, it would be easier to understand. Both socks and shoes protect your feet, but in different ways. Although you have both, you don’t always use them together. Sooner or later, though, they will both be used them at the same time. Just like socks and shoes, Homeland Security and Homeland Defense have similar missions. When all is said and done, their roles need to remain unchanged. Homeland Security needs to secure our home, and Homeland Defense (the military) needs to defend it when it needs defending.