Homeland Security and Defense in the United States

Description Missions, Tasks, Duties, Responsibilities, and Operations

Although the concepts of Homeland Security (HS) and Homeland Defense (HD) are often conflated, there is a significant difference between the two. HS implies a national endeavor at handling the risks associated with terrorist attacks and decreasing the rates of vulnerability toward terrorism among U.S. residents, in general. The specified phenomenon is slightly different from HD, which is used to define the set of strategies and measures taken to safeguard the U.S. territory, its citizens, and its integrity from possible attacks and aggression of other countries (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, n.d.). Being two entirely different phenomena, HS and HD have different missions, tasks, duties, and responsibilities.

There are certain points of contact between the missions of HS and HD. For instance, both imply the protection of the state and its citizens. However, while HD views the design of a set of measures taken to handle state safety issues as its key mission, HS’s goal is to sustain the national effort in reinforcing security levels (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, n.d.). Therefore, it could be argued that the mission of HS is more communication-oriented than the one of HD.

Consequently, the duties and responsibilities of HS and HD are quite different from each other. Particularly, HD is mostly preoccupied with military actions, whereas HS focuses on protecting American civilians (U.S. Department of Defense, 2016). Therefore, the operations of the two differ in the area to which they are applied. HD operations involve military measures and take place outside of American borders, while HS operations are typically performed within the state and are implemented for the protection of American citizens (Institute for Homeland Defense, n.d.).

Required Resources

When considering both the operations of HD and HS, one must mention the significance of human resources. Whether these are soldiers that fight to secure the lives of Americans or state authorities inviting the latter to participate in campaigns aimed at raising awareness, people play a huge part in the provision of security and management of defense strategies. Furthermore, both HS and HD have a number of agencies that are supposed to control different aspects of the national well-being and, thus, provide HD and HS with the information required to implement their missions (Institute for Homeland Defense, n.d.; U.S. Department of Homeland Security, n.d.).

Common Responsibilities and Efforts

It should be noted that, in the U.S., HD plays a significant role in the way in which the strategies and choices of HS are shaped. Apart from partaking in military actions, the representatives of HD also help determine the threats to which American citizens are exposed; thus, HD informs the decisions of HS. Thus, both share the responsibility of protecting American citizens, yet they apply different types of strategies to accomplish the specified objective. Nevertheless, their efforts are strong and consistent.

Homeland Security: Personal Definition

Although the phenomenon of HS has its own definition and remains an essential part of American policies, there are different ways of viewing and defining it. By scrutinizing the subject matter from different perspectives, including not only the military viewpoint but also the cultural standpoint, one will be able to explore its many facets and, thus, design strategies for improving it. Nonetheless, the specified multidimensional properties of the phenomenon complicate the process of determining its essence. Personally, I think that the concept of HS embraces not only the tools for inviting people to participate in the reinforcement of their security but also changes in people’s cultural perspective. I believe that HS should be defined as the set of strategies for balancing people’s attitude toward external threats and helping the U.S. citizens remain alert yet refusing to cling on to ethnic stereotypes and prejudices against certain demographics.

The Critical Infrastructure of the United States

U.S. Critical Infrastructure through the Prism of Homeland Security and Defense

At present, 16 critical infrastructure sectors are identified in the U.S. environment. These include the “chemical, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, defense industrial base, emergency services, energy, financial services, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare and public health, information technology, nuclear reactors, transportation systems, and water and wastewater systems sectors” (DiNapoli, 2015, p. 1). When viewed through the lens of HS and HD, the specified sectors can be interpreted as the areas that help maintain national and economic security at the highest levels possible. If at least one of these elements of the critical infrastructure sustains significant damage, the social, economic, and financial well-being of U.S. citizens will be jeopardized (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2017).

Current Infrastructure Protection Efforts in the U.S.: Assessment

One must give credit to the U.S. HS and HD for being able to identify the threats that have emerged comparatively recently in the wake of the technological breakthrough witnessed over the past few decades. With the emergence of cyberspace and the transfer of information management to the realm of virtual reality, the possibility of a cyberattack appeared. Furthermore, with the development of IT tools and the discovery of new opportunities in the online environment, the danger of cyberattacks has been growing exponentially. To respond to the specified concern, HS and HD devised an elaborate strategy for enhancing cybersecurity to a considerable extent (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2015). Particularly, the promotion of public-private cooperation in the context of the cyber-environment needs to be mentioned as one of the primary tools for maintaining the security of essential information of both American citizens and the U.S. government intact.

For instance, the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) managed to produce a very timely and efficient response toward the increase in the levels of a threat of a cyberattack by instructing its members about the issue, its possible consequences, and the means of preventing a cyberattack (U.S. Department of Defense, 2016). Thus, the promotion of cybersecurity learning among state officials and employees of state organizations must be recognized as an important step in the right direction.

How the Existing Vulnerabilities Can Be Addressed

Because of the massive change that informational technologies made to the global economy, a physical attack, while leading to admittedly tragic outcomes, will no longer have a debilitating effect on state security. Therefore, the focus of the current efforts of terrorists lies in the realm of cybersecurity. Particularly, the endeavors at disrupting the American economy and, thus, causing U.S. citizens to feel insecure in the setting of their own home, can be regarded as the primary goal of modern terrorists (Institute for Homeland Defense, n.d.).

The identified vulnerability can be addressed by enhancing the state cybersecurity levels, as well as building confidence among U.S. residents. The latter is bound to be much more complicated than the former due to the necessity to subvert some of the stereotypes that have been thriving since the onslaught of terrorist attacks that the U.S. experienced at the height of Al Qaeda’s reign of terror (U.S. Department of Defense, 2016). Particularly, the fear of terrorism needs to be transformed into awareness about the threat and a better understanding of how to respond to an emergent threat. As a result, a gradual improvement in security and safety levels among U.S. citizens will be observed.


DiNapoli, T. P. (2015). Industrial control systems cybersecurity. Web.

Institute for Homeland Defense. (n.d.). Resources. Web.

U.S. Department of Defense. (2016). Homeland Defense Integration & DSCA. Web.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (n.d.). Resources. Web.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2015). Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP) gold and freedom. Web.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2017). Critical infrastructure sectors. Web.