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The anticipated challenges across the last few weeks of this course have been in the challenges presented with information sharing across the Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE) and a threat of complacency in the defeat of major terrorist threats, like the Islamic State (IS), and allowing the eyes to be taken off of the intelligence ball when it pertains to the rise of homegrown violent extremists (HVE) the nation has seen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting violence across the nation from the George Floyd incident. The key findings from the 2016 Homeland Security Committee’s Majority Staff Report lists a 2014 RAND report depicting despite an “intense focus on information sharing, the ability to fairly and accurately measure the value of these – sometimes expensive – efforts remain limited” (Jackson, 2014). Jackson also notes that without a standardized reporting format many of the agencies involved at all levels of the FSLTT develop their own criteria and systems, leading to a duplication of effort and loss of efficiency in intelligence sharing.

The amount of information sharing, and the methods need to be refined and streamlined to ensure a rapid dissemination of possible threats identified by the Intelligence Community (IC) down to the stakeholders of the private industry that owns and operates up to 85% of the nation’s Critical Infrastructure (CI). The article by Nelson (2013) discusses information sharing between all of the different DHS organizations and tying those to the Customs and Border Protection (CPB), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as well as others demonstrating a disconnect for screening and vetting of people entering or even just transiting the U.S. With the amount of automation evolution strides over the last decade in particular the systems need to become streamlined to be more effective and efficient. I can use myself as an example whenever I come back from overseas, if my port of entry is Dulles, I automatically know I will be going through secondary screening due to someone else with my name, yet if I go to Atlanta as my POE, I breeze right through without any hiccups. One system from the same organization is obviously not being updated or communicating with the other. The effectiveness of HSINT depends on a cohesive DHS led intelligence system allowing for collection, analysis and dissemination of threats to the SLTT as well as the public / private industries.

Future Challenges

In order to ensure sharing of the information, I would put out guidance to the Fusion Centers and the IC to reset the formatting for reporting, and enable some tech firm from the private sector to design an IT system to be utilized across the board at all of the IC agencies, Fusion Centers and down the SLTT organizations. The disconnect in systems and the ability to access intelligence should not be still on the table of issues two decades after the what could be called the largest intelligence failure in our nation’s history. The lack of the IC talking to the Department of State was a large failure that could have prevented at least one of the 9/11 hijackers from entering the country and could have connected the dots to the rest of the group. I don’t like to be a Monday morning quarterback, yet if we haven’t made the corrections since that fateful time, we have been half stepping and with all of the distractions taking place in the country now, we are wide open for another epic attack.

Mike Simmons

References:

Jackson, B., (2014). How do we know what information sharing is really worth? RAND. Retrieved from https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR380.html

Nelson, R., (2013). Homeland security at the crossroads: Evolving DHS to meet the next generation of threats. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Retrieved from https://www.csis.org/analysis/homeland-security-crossroads-evolving-dhs-meet-next-generation-threats

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