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Homeland Security: The Department of Defense's Role

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Congressional rept.

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For over a century the U.S. military has focused on expeditionary warfare overseas. Its participation in domestic operations has been sporadic and generally in response to natural disasters. With the heightened concern about large-scale terrorism have come efforts to involve the Department of Defense DoD more closely with federal, state, and local agencies in their homeland security activities. DoD resources are unique in the government, both in their size and capabilities, and can be applied to both deter and respond to terrorist acts. While the DoD leadership is ready and willing to play a supporting role in these efforts, it wishes to maintain overseas military operations as the Departments primary focus, and avoid a drain of fiscal, materiel, and personnel resources to the homeland security mission. In response to the increased focus on homeland security, on October 1, 2002, DoD activated a new combatant command, Northern Command or NORTHCOM. Exactly how DoD and a new Department of Homeland Security DHS will establish and maintain coordination and cooperation remains to be seen. Legislation creating the DHS P.L. 107-296 is silent on this question, and details on the new NORTHCOM are scarce. The intelligence collection and analysis capabilities within the DoD are a substantial portion of the United States national intelligence assets. They include the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the intelligence and security branches of the individual armed services. Consequently, the means and extent of cooperationcoordination between DoD and the new DHS will be of great importance to the success of DHSs efforts to provide comprehensive intelligence analysis. The DoD has the largest and most diversified personnel assets in the Federal Government, and they can be used in a variety of security and emergency response roles, especially CBRN incidents.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Civil Defense
  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare
  • Nuclear Warfare
  • Unconventional Warfare

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