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Department of Defence’s Role in Homeland Security

Winslow, Timothy J. 2014. The DoD Role in Homeland Security: Past, Present, and Future. Homeland Defense and Civil Support Journal. Spring2014, Vol. 3 Issue 1, p60-73. 14p.

Retrieved from:


Colonel Timothy Winslow outlines the changing dynamics of homeland security and how the Department of Defense’s role in homeland security started compared to now, and how it will continue to change in the future.

He makes a point to distinguish homeland defense and homeland security and defines both.  Homeland defense is defined by the DoD as “the protection of US sovereignty, territory, domestic population, and critical infrastructure against external threats and aggression, or other threats as directed by the President” (Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2013).  Homeland security is separately defined by the Department of Homeland Security as “the intersection of evolving threats and hazards with the traditional governmental and civic responsibilities of civil defense, emergency responses, law enforcement, customs, border control, and immigration” (Dept. of Homeland Security, 2010).  These definitions are important because it makes it much easier to see the distinction between the two entities goals.  One is clearly more militarily driven by protecting our national interests, and the other focuses much more on domestic law enforcement type activities.  Winslow points out the challenges involved with the DoD and DHS by saying that “segregating apportioning roles of homeland security and homeland defense with overlapping tasks between defense and non-defense entities continues to challenge policy makers (Winslow, 2014).

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The article is separated into different timeframes starting at World War 1 and ending in 2012 which is a decade after the formation of the DHS.  Each section briefly outlines our homeland defense and security postures and policies of each timeframe. World War 1 through Vietnam was a time period in which the U.S was at war 30% of the time.  Economic conditions and advancing technology greatly influenced the countries approach to securing the homeland (Winslow, 2014).  It also involved a shift in homeland security policy that shifted from a state government responsibility to a federal government responsibility. Vietnam to Goldwater-Nichols era “began a more synchronized approach to balancing all element of national power” (Winslow, 2014).  There was also abnormally high amount of homeland security activity compared to the relatively low amount of military actions going on around the globe.  President Nixon also started to link strategic policies to domestic security policies.

Next is the post-Cold War to establishment of DHS timeframe in which there was a decline in concerns over threats to the homeland than there had been in the previous periods mentioned.  There was an effort to reduce military spending to focus on the economy.  No imminent threat was believed to exist.  In a reversal of shifting duties to a federal responsibility, the Clinton administration directed that “civil defense will remain a state responsibility for an all-hazards approach and federally funded through discretionary spending” (Winslow, 2014). This brings us to the formation of the Department of Homeland Security after the 9/11 attacks.  The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, prompted federal officials to examine how such an attack was allowed to occur. The post-9/11 debate eventually turned to how the federal government could prevent future attacks by terrorists. Exactly one month after the attacks, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced legislation to create a Department of Homeland Security. The Bush administration rejected the idea, but Democratic members of the Senate continued to press it. Finally, in June 2002, more than seven months after the initial proposal, President Bush reversed his stand. The Homeland Security Act called for pulling together various federal agencies and offices into the newly established Department of Homeland Security (DHS), led by the first Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, former Republican governor of Pennsylvania.With all of the focus being placed on our economy, the response to the attacks placed the DoD at the forefront of power even though its role in homeland security was not well defined.  The Gilmore Commission explained that “No clear definition of homeland security and no precise definition of the military role in that activity have even been established” (Gilmore, 2001).  Oddly enough, Hurricane Katrina was a turning point in defining roles of homeland security.  There was a large amount of military support through manpower and resources for the disaster response after the storm hit.  It “seared DoD roles critically into the DHS enterprise that spans first responders, law enforcement, and private entities” (Winslow, 2014).  Guidance was finally being given to adjust for the rapid change to national expectations.

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From the formation of the DHS to 2012 is the final timeframe and really pinned down many of the struggles of the previous time periods.  Amendments made to existing laws “were impactful and immensely helpful in positively altering homeland security enterprise functions” (Winslow, 2014).  The support duties of the National Guard were well defined so that military support could be given more easily and still controlled by the states.  In addition, the National Guard was given a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff because of their increase rolls at home and abroad since 9/11.

Winslow did an excellent job of explaining the history and events behind the defining of and transformation of homeland security.  He gave a very comprehensive look at the events and policies that brought us today in terms of homeland security and homeland defense.  The two terms should be treated separately but the entities that involve them must work together to achieve their individual goals.


  • James S. Gilmore, Third Annual Report to the President and the Congress of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Defense, December 15, 2001), 46. Accessed September 17, 2019. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/www/external/nsrd/terrpanel/terror3-screen.pdf.
  • Winslow, T. J. (2014). The DoD Role in Homeland Security: Past, Present, & Future. Homeland Defense and Civil Support Journal, 3(1), 60-73. Retrieved September 20, 2019, from https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a590366.pdf
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report: A Strategic Framework for a Secure Homeland (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, February 2010), 11. Accessed September 19, 2019. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/qhsr_report.pdf
  • U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Homeland Defense, Joint Publication 3-27 (Washington, DC: U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, July 29, 2013), vii. Accessed September 18, 2019. http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/new_pubs/jp3_28.pdf.
  • Block, Robert. “Departments.” AllGov, 2016, www.allgov.com/departments/department-of-homeland-security?detailsDepartmentID=571.

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