By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2013 – The Defense Department incorporated hard lessons learned when it codified its new homeland defense and civil support strategy, said Todd M. Rosenblum, DOD’s top homeland defense official.
In an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel, Rosenblum, the acting assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and Americas’ security affairs, said the new strategy is a recognition that the operating environment has changed.
“We face new threats, we have new vulnerabilities, we have new dependencies, most importantly we have a new way to do business,” Rosenblum said during a Pentagon interview. “We have to capture that and make sure the department is prepared and directed toward being more effective and efficient as we can be.”
The Defense Department is charged with defending the homeland from attack. U.S. Northern Command is further charged with working with state and local entities and other federal agencies to provide support in times of natural or man-made disasters. In the first instance, DOD has the lead. In the second, another federal agency -- such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- has the lead.
The strategy, released in February, looks at the lessons learned from past experiences -- from Hurricane Katrina through Hurricane Sandy.
They also looked at changes including the growth of communications networks, dependence on private-sector capabilities and “the rising expectations from the president and from the secretary, and certainly from the American people, that we will be prepared to provide support to civil authorities within a 24- to 48-hour window,” Rosenblum said.
This is an incredibly short period of time, he said, and it forces a change in the relationship between DOD and other agencies. The old paradigm was to have civil partners “pull assistance” from DOD, while now DOD will actually push assistance where it is needed.
“So we are postured to provide assistance as fast and rapidly as possible,” Rosenblum said.
The vast difference between the response to Katrina in 2005 and to Sandy in 2012 shows the effectiveness of the new strategy, he said.
“We were more efficient, timely and effective in our support to Hurricane Sandy,” Rosenblum said. “This is because we did integrated planning within DOD, with our federal partners, and with our state partners. We recognized the need to not wait to be called upon, but to pre-position our support capabilities knowing there’s going to be audibles and ad hoc requests.”
Planning is at the heart of the strategy, he said. Integrated planning -- with state and local officials, with other federal agencies and with non-governmental entities -- has increased visibility and prominence. The National Guard -- an organization that bridges state and federal efforts -- continues to play a crucial role. But, Rosenblum noted, the strategy recognizes that response to disasters requires an all-of-government approach.
Cyberattacks, he said, also could produce the type of man-made disaster that would require DOD assistance. The homeland defense mission codifies requirements to provide cyberdefense, he added.
“The threats to networks and critical infrastructure increase when we are engaged in operations overseas,” he said. “The physical effects of cyberattacks can impact our military operation capabilities and response capabilities.”
The fiscal environment impacts this -- and all other -- strategies.
“The sequester is real and effecting DOD through readiness, training,” Rosenblum said. “It is difficult for the department to plan and budget intelligently, when we don’t have budget certainty.”
Officials devised the strategy when the department had already committed to $487 billion in reductions over 10 years.
“Sequester has changed the calculus tremendously,” Rosenblum said. “But this strategy is not about buying new capabilities: It’s about our planning, our processes and our integration.”