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The Essential Foundation: Practical Risk Management

For any professional in national security, homeland security, emergency management, physical or IT security, and continuity of operations, risk management should be second nature: Practitioners in these fields will be all but impotent without risk-informed decision making. Yet I’ve been surprised more often than not on the lack of other than a very rudimentary understanding at best on how to conduct effective risk management, starting with risk assessment. There certainly are many ways to approach risk management, and formal methodologies and agency techniques will vary with the specific domain to be addressed. However, there are generic concepts that I’ve found to be applicable across the board. This article offers a primer in risk management that many may find useful to frame their own risk management approach. I ground my methodology in risk management fundamentals, and use the Department of Homeland Security’s Risk Lexicon (Department of Homeland Security, 2010) to define the essential elements. I recommend this source as a useful reference that helps to standardize the process and offers the depth necessary for detailed assessments.


The Chaplain and Disaster
The Chaplain and Disaster

Critical Crisis brings an influx of “helpers” from all over the country and other parts of the world. Clergy will appear wearing badges, special identifications of every type and color, and some weapons. They will be from large cities and small communities. Some will ask how they can help and “lone rangers” with no concept of crime scene will wade in with not much more to offer than confidence. As the local chaplain, you will probably be looked upon to coordinate those clergy that descend on such a disaster. It will not be an easy task.


MERS Corona-Virus an International Threat
MERS Corona-Virus an International Threat

There have been several recent articles concerning the potential of MERS corona-virus spreading globally from Saudi Arabia. One of the challenges confronting the World Health Organization (WHO) is mass religious gatherings that will bring approximately three million pilgrims to Mecca from the 13th to 18th of October for the Hajj, on the heels of Umra, which started on the 9th of July and will finish on the 7th of August.


Containing the Dirty Bomb Threat
Containing the Dirty Bomb Threat banner

Of the many dangerous and under-appreciated threats to the American public is the potential for an unsophisticated Dirty Bomb detonated in a city center, creating a radioactive cloud and making large areas unsafe for decades or more. The process is relatively simple, requiring only an average blood irradiator or other medical device containing cesium 137 and a high explosive charge. Over the past ten years we have written many times about the vulnerability, as have others, with little change in the industry.


The Future of Terrorism and Fear
The Future of Terrorism and Fear banner

Terrorist tactics can empower even the smallest groups, increasing the number of prospective adversaries capable of inflicting injury and destruction. Furthermore, there are multiple threat vectors available to terrorists, most of which fall within critical infrastructure and key resources. Disaster can bring forth fear in the population; however, researchers have ascertained that an adequately prepared population is less impacted by terrorism. Although multiple strategy documents exist to address terrorism, none specifically focus on the fear and panic generated by terrorism. The United States requires a strategy that not only addresses the threat vectors but also addresses the fear and panic generated by terrorism in order to minimize occurrences and their effects. It is incumbent on the government at all levels to communicate trustworthy and accurate messages in order to avoid creation of unnecessary confusion and fear in the population.


NSPC 3: The Complexity of our National Security Strategy

In a previous Inside Homeland Security article, I commented about the various elements that provide national security, and mentioned the role of the National Security Strategy (NSS). I’d like to spend more time in discussing this seminal document, now that the Obama administration very recently published its current version (February 2015).



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