Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy
after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. government does not
have a single definition for “homeland security.” Currently, different
strategic documents and mission statements offer varying missions that are
derived from different homeland security definitions. Historically, the
strategic documents framing national homeland security policy have included national
strategies produced by the White House and documents developed by the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Prior to the 2010 National
Security Strategy, the 2002 and 2007 National Strategies for
Homeland Security were the guiding documents produced by the White House.
In 2011, the White House issued the National Strategy for Counterterrorism.
In conjunction with these White House strategies, DHS has developed a series of
evolving strategic documents based on the two national homeland security
strategies and include the 2008 Strategic Plan—One Team, One Mission,
Securing the Homeland; the 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security
Review and Bottom-Up Review; and the 2012 Department of Homeland Security
Strategic Plan. The 2012 DHS strategic plan is the latest evolution in
DHS’s process of defining its mission, goals, and responsibilities. This
plan, however, only addresses the department’s homeland security purview
and is not a document that addresses homeland security missions and
responsibilities that are shared across the federal government.
Varied homeland security definitions and missions may impede the development of
a coherent national homeland security strategy, and may hamper the
effectiveness of congressional oversight. Definitions and missions are
part of strategy development. Policymakers develop strategy by identifying
national interests, prioritizing goals to achieve those national interests, and arraying
instruments of national power to achieve the national interests. Developing an
effective homeland security strategy, however, may be complicated if the
key concept of homeland security is not defined and its missions are not
aligned and synchronized among different federal entities with homeland
This report discusses the evolution of national and DHS-specific homeland
security strategic documents and their homeland security definitions and
missions, and analyzes the policy question of how varied homeland security
definitions and missions may affect the development of national homeland
security strategy. This report, however, does not examine DHS implementation of strategy.
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