The management of national security among the world’s many states remains a complex undertaking. In addition to managing the security inside their borders, countries also have to coordinate their security efforts in conjunction with their regional neighbors and international actors. The Unites States (U.S) is a leading national security entity within its borders, in the region and internationally (Reese, 2013). While the U.S. possesses numerous security and intelligence-related agencies, a focus on how the country manages its internal security and a comparison with other Japan, Israel, China and the United Kingdom (U.K.).
The United States’ Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a federal government department working under the aegis of the White House and is therefore a cabinet level department (Reese, 2013x`). The executive has tasked the DHS’ with appraising the cabinet on the security threats within U.S. borders. The DHS was a product of an extensive government reorganization that entailed the convergence of the functions of various government departments. The departments include the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Coast Guard (USGS), the Secret Service (USSS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Federal Protective Services, Computer Emergency Readiness Team, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) among other agencies. Being part of the executive branch of government, DHS is a cabinet level department.
The DHS’ origins as an amalgamation of already highly specialized department and agency functions adds to the sophistry of the U.S.’ approach to national security in comparison with other countries (Reese, 2013). Additionally, the DHS has a well-defined and organized structure compared to the other countries’ national security apparatus that appear nebulous. The DHS’ specialized functions include aviation, maritime and transportation security, preventing and mitigating biohazard events and pandemics, counter-terrorism, emergency preparedness, protection services and so forth (Reese, 2013). A modern department, DHS makes extensive use of technology in fulfilling its mandate. The technologies include biometric identification, weapons and biohazard detection, monitoring and mitigating applications, and cyber threat detection and counter measures.
Like the DHS’ interagency cooperation model, Japan’s national security structure brings together the functionalities of its fragmented national security organs prior to the establishment of the National Security Council. The fragmentation of functions and responsibilities means that interagency cooperation is only possible at the highest level of the executive branch, with the prime minster directing the multiagency approach to managing national security (Ito, 2012). This is similar to the convergence of highly specialized but coordinated efforts of the DHS in fulfilling its internal security mandate, where multiagency cooperation underpins the homeland security apparatus.
Also, like the DHS that relies on multiple law-enforcement agencies in the implementation of its security operations, Japan heavily relies on its National Police Agency and Defense forces in the maintenance of its internal security (Ito, 2012). For example, under the auspices of the DHS, the FEMA operations may enlist the U.S. National Guard, a military force in its own right and an example of multiagency synchronization (Reese, 2013). Similarly, the Japanese Self Defense Forces also contribute to national emergencies such as mitigating the fallout from severe earthquake events by scaling up civilian relief operation and augmenting technical support (Ito, 2012).
In Israel, the Home Front Command (HFC) is similar to the U.S.’ DHS and is a part of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) tasked with maintaining security within Israel’s borders. While the conventional IDF units are in charge of countering threats coming from outside Israel’s borders, the HFC is in charge of the rear civilian areas (Pockett, 2005). The HFC, like the DHS, combines a number of functions albeit with a simpler structure. The HFC converges law enforcement, first responder services and disaster mitigation and relief services in response to the frequent terror assaults that Israel has contended with since its inception. Its military background, coupled with its multirole and agency coordination mechanisms have made the HFC especially effective in fulfilling its homeland security mandate.
Like the DHS, the HFC makes use of a variety of early warning and detection technologies, as well as exploiting Israel’s latest innovations in health to mitigate medical emergencies (Pockett, 2005). The HFC is also responsible for sensitizing the civilians on threat recognition and appropriate responses to various threats to ensure their safety and survival. Like the DHS, the HFC only steps into local enforcement roles in a coordination and mitigation capacity where emerging developments are a threat to the national security (Pockett, 2005). The HFC, like the DHS, has specialized units to deal with nuclear, chemical and biological threats and rescue operations, with the latter being similar to FEMA’s mandate.
The Chinese National Security Commission (CNSC) under which China’s homeland apparatus converges, reports to the Chinese Communist Party (Sun, 2013). Consequently, China’s approach to national security is that of consolidating its various security organs around party interests, much like the DHS that works as cabinet department, works closely with Congressional directives. The CNSC differs from the DHS in that it makes extensive use of its considerable paramilitary assets to maintain law and order, particularly in its more restive provinces (Sun, 2013). This contrasts with DHS which directs the deployment of enforcement personnel, such as directing the National Guard to assist in disaster relief operations.
Unlike the U.S.’ approach to homeland security, China’s internal security apparatus has little consideration for private space, as evidenced by the technology-driven initiatives it is presently rolling out (Sun, 2013). To illustrate, China is leveraging on its growing position as a technology hub to improve its homeland security infrastructure, a trend that the country’s safe cities initiative demonstrates. China’s safe city initiative has initially drawn in the participation of several hundred cities and entails the amalgamation of various information technology applications for the purpose of bolstering public security (Sun, 2013). Specifically, the initiative entails fusing GPS applications, video surveillance of public spaces and biometric information. The outcome of the safe city fusion of technology-driven data is the creation of a metadata analytics platform to undergird the national security policy and responses in China.
The lead agency in the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) homeland security is the MI-5, a local intelligence bureau whose functions have over the years evolved to now cover serious events such as organized crime, terrorism and any other subversive activities within the U.K. (Masse, 2003). Like the DHS, the MI-5 does not have prosecutorial powers per se, but supplies intelligence to law enforcement for further action. Unlike the DHS that is essentially an amalgamation of functions from various standalone departments and agencies, the MI-5 is the point of convergence for all intelligence within UK borders (Masse, 2003). The MI-5 releases the information to the special and regular police contingents for further action such as arrests and prosecution.
Although primarily an intelligence gathering outfit, the U.K.’s MI-5 can act directly to thwart eminent threats particularly if utilizing regular channels would expose law enforcement to fatalities (Masse, 2003). Still, the emphasis on gathering, evaluating and disseminating domestic intelligence to its civilian counterparts and primarily the British police is a function that distinguishes the MI-5 from the DHS, which largely draws intelligence from its many agencies, with the Homeland Security Investigations being a close counterpart. Still, MI-5’s domestic intelligence gathering is broad compared to
In conclusion, the approaches the United States and other countries use to manage their national security are multi-various and complex, usually in response to the unique security needs of each country. Additionally, each country has their own unique administrative and jurisprudential structures within which their national security apparatus operates. The country’s geopolitical, socioeconomic and populations also determine their approaches to their security. The U.S.’ Federal government with elected officials differs sharply with China’s single party system with officials that the ruling communist party elects. Equally, the threats that Israel contends with differ significantly in magnitude and scope from the threats to national security the U.S. experiences. Also, the U.K.’s long history of ad hoc inter-departmental and inter-agency coordination lends that country’s security apparatus unique bureaucratic-cutting mobilization that is only possible with considerable undertaking in the U.S. homeland apparatus. Nonetheless, the U.S.’ DHS continues to be a model of integrated homeland security management across the world.
Ito, T. (2012). Military-public-private cooperation in disaster relief: Lessons learned from the 2011 great east Japan earthquake. Liaison: A Journal of Civil-Military Humanitarian Relief Collaborations 5, 15-20. Retrieved from https://www.cfe-dmha.org/portals/0/liaison/liaison-2012-vol05.pdf
Masse, T. (2003). Domestic intelligence in the United Kingdom: Applicability of the MI-5 model to the United States. Congressional Research Services/Report for Congress Order Code RL31920, 1-15 https://fas.org/irp/crs/RL31920.pdf
Pockett, C. B. (2005). United States and Israeli homeland security: A comparative analysis of emergency preparedness efforts. The Counterproliferation Papers Future Warfare Series No. 33, 1-52. Retrieved from https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a456291.pdf
Reese, S. (2013). Defining homeland security: Analysis and congressional considerations. Congressional Research Service, 1-15. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/R42462.pdf
Sun, Y. (2013). Chinese national security decision-making: processes and challenges. The Brookings Institution for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, 1-27. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/chinese-national-security-decisionmaking-sun-paper.pdf
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