The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a catalyst for reform and unity in America, especially within the national security sector. The terrorists had taken advantage of security weaknesses as well as the very welcoming nature of America’s freedom. The attacks exposed the vulnerabilities of the nation’s critical infrastructure, spurring a rapid response from President Bush, and providing the impetus for the creation of a new security management strategy by national security government officials. These officials constructed a document that identified new goals and an amended mission to account for the upgraded terrorist threat.
An organized plan — called The National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets — details the principles to bolster America’s infrastructure security. Security experts established that this new strategy was to be a shared responsibility, not exclusively shouldered by the government. It was created as a framework to be used by all areas of government, business and society to protect the nation and prevent future terrorist attacks.
America’s Critical Infrastructure
Energy, sewage treatment, emergency services, transportation, computer systems, agriculture, security facilities — these are just a few of the many areas that comprise the nation’s critical infrastructure. It is a complex, reliable and resilient framework that supports the country’s operations and standard of living. Even after 9/11, and after renewing our security levels and awareness of threats, most citizens take critical infrastructure for granted.
Our nation’s infrastructure may not be infallible, but it is an impressive, sophisticated system that functions nonstop and is designed to resist disaster. The attacks of 9/11 brought down New York city’s World Trade Center, yet the electrical grid that surrounded Ground Zero continued to operate. Its resilience meant power was able to be quickly restored, even as first response resources (safety professionals, rescue personnel and recovery teams) began their operations. The events of 9/11 did reveal flaws in our national security system, but our response to the attacks demonstrated the resiliency and intricate strength of the country’s critical infrastructure.
Mission and Protection Goals
The National Strategy reflects a reformed national security mission to protect against a dangerous terrorist threat. According to the document, the mission is “to develop a comprehensive national approach to physical protection.” This reflects the nation’s dedication to freedom and aligns with updated, long-term security goals.
While the overall objective is to improve national security, this is a lengthy and complex process that requires cooperation between government, private entities and communities. Goals include, but are not limited to: raising threat awareness, updating physical and cyber security measures, creating multiple redundancy plans, and improving warning signals and communication. In addition to identifying desired security results, the National Strategy provides guiding principles to achieve those ends.
Similar to protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure, managing and improving national security is a complex, integrated process. After the attacks of 9/11, security officials recognized the need for guidance to reach intended response and safety goals. This guidance took the form of eight principles as established by the National Strategy for the Physical Protection of Critical Infrastructures and Key Assets:
Assure public safety, public confidence and services
It may be impossible to anticipate all security threats, but effective planning and response can minimize negative effects and maintain confidence in the nation’s security. ‘Preparing for the worst’ is crucial to protecting critical infrastructure should preventative methods fail.
Establish responsibility and accountability
When disaster strikes, emergency professionals have made it clear that people need to know their roles and responsibilities. All involved parties should be familiar with emergency procedures, so when disaster strikes — no matter how randomly — everyone can quickly and efficiently take action. Quick responses minimize damage and injury.
Encourage and facilitate partnering among all levels of government and between government and industry
As established earlier, cooperation between all levels of government and industry is important, but this type of action can’t be forced. Especially after 9/11, every citizen shares the responsibility of defending the nation from threat; whether as a security or safety professional, a federal worker, or as a private citizen ready to report suspicious activity.
Encourage market solutions whenever possible; compensate for market failure with focused government intervention
Among America’s core values are personal freedom and effective government regulation. There are already government regulations to help ensure the uninterrupted operation of the country’s critical infrastructure. It is the purpose of the National Strategy to find infrastructure security solutions without additional regulation, and to ensure the government is prepared to provide compensation and support if there is a failure.
Facilitate meaningful information sharing
Security is supported through strong communication of accurate information. Partnership between the public and private sectors includes sharing strategies and data that can lead to effective national security. Additionally, communication methods should be secured, so the flow of information is protected, difficult to intercept and difficult to interrupt.
Foster international security cooperation
Essentially, this guiding principle defines the need for positive global relationships. Continual communication and strong ties with global neighbors helps hinder the free movement of terrorists and their cells. Terrorism affects America and the world. It is an international threat that is better addressed through dedicated cooperation on a global scale.
Develop technologies and expertise to combat terrorist threats
In a technological age, it is important to stay ahead of the curve, both in terms of the physical world and the cyber security realm. Creating and implementing innovative strategies and tools can provide a strong advantage in the fight against terrorism and the defense of the nation.
Safeguard privacy and constitutional freedoms
Possibly one of the most important principles when adapting to terrorist threats is the preservation of constitutional freedoms. The question is: “how much freedom can be given up for security?” This question is especially relevant. It must always guide our government and all involved in reforming America’s national security.
How to be More Active in National Security
While all American citizens need to be aware and proactive regarding the nation’s safety, some may want to be directly involved. Security and emergency management professionals can find various jobs within the private and public sectors. Balancing the freedom of America and the need to protect its citizens is a complex, nuanced, noble undertaking. It is this very undertaking that the National Strategy implemented shortly after 9/11, seeks to pursue, and works to protect and implement.
Earning a master’s in emergency management from Eastern Kentucky University can help you increase your knowledge of the safety industry and demonstrate a continued commitment to learning and leadership. Whether you aspire to work at the governmental level or move into the private sector, our distinguished faculty of safety professionals delivers a comprehensive curriculum that can translate wherever safety matters most.