Role of Terrorism in Homeland Security Paper Example

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1830 Words
Date:  2022-11-20


Homeland Security is a cabinet department in the United States Federal government that has the mandate of ensuring border security, anti-terrorism, immigration and customs, cybersecurity and disaster prevention and management. Homeland security is a relatively new body compared to other Federal agencies such as the FBI. It is the youngest cabinet department. It was founded in response to the terrorist attack on Twin Towers in Manhattan New York on September 11. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the equivalent of other interior or home ministries in other countries. According to Homeland Security (2017), the department has over 240,000 employees that range from aviation, cybersecurity, border security, and emergency response. Their mission is to safeguard America, its people, and its values with honor and integrity. Despite the many responsibilities of DHS, terrorism is the primary purpose for which the department was created (Homeland Security, Preventing Terrorism Overview, 2015). The FBI defines terrorism as the unlawful use of force or violence against individuals or government to coerce them and to promote a particular social or political objective. Therefore, this paper seeks to establish how terrorism leads to the formation of Homeland Security.

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Before World War II

Various wars in history have influenced the task of civil defense before the 2001 terrorist attack in New York. However, evidence from Homeland Security, Brief Documentary History of the Department of Homeland Security (2006) shows that there was a little history of civil defense before the 20th century. Unlike other countries, America had little civil defense in the early times because of lack of immediate threats to the American homeland. Still, there were arrangements in place that would qualify as civil defense. For example, a village in Bedford, New York had a drummer who was paid to alert the locals in case of an attack by native Americans.

World War I presented the first instance that the United States began what could be termed as a formal civil defense. At that time, it was defined as a civilian defense. The first World War introduced the primary real threats to noncombatants. The Americans soon copied the British by organizing a civil defense. The first civil defense organization was the Council of National Defense formed on August 24th, 1916. The council managed war efforts on American soil (Bradsher, 2017). The organization had a council and subsidiary council that undertook civil defense responsibilities.

However, America had little threats of direct attack on its shores. The council had the mandate of maintaining the anti-saboteur vigilance. The freedom to focus beyond air raids allowed them to cover a broader perspective. The activities of the Council of National Defense ended with the First World War. That was the first time that the American government organized a civil defense.

After World War II

World War II saw the relaunch of the Council of National Defense. The period also saw the significantly greater use of civil defense. President Roosevelt created the Division of State and Local cooperation to assist the council in conducting civil defense. The mandate of civilian protection became like a continuation of the efforts of World War I. The government soon realized that the council was struggling to maintain civil defense both at the federal level and the local level. The American government soon realized that it had vested a lot of responsibilities on one body and it moved to create the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD). The OCD was established within the Office of Civilian Planning(OCP) in the Executive Office of the President (National Archives, 2016). According to National Archives (2016), the OCD was created to coordinate Federal civilian defense. Federal civilian protection uses the relationship between the Federal government and State and Local governments. The OCD assisted the State and Local governments in the establishment of local defense councils. It also planned to ensure life and property protection. It also recruited and trained auxiliaries to handle emergencies. The OCD took over the responsibilities of the Council of National Defense (National Archives, 2016).

The Cold War introduced renewed efforts in civil defense as the threat of nuclear war loomed over the American population. The National Security Resource Board(NSRB) proposed to Congress a model for civil defense, but Congress never came close to agreeing to the budget requests of the agency. Civil defense during the cold war era was focused on surviving a nuclear fallout. The government made significant efforts to educate the American public on how to react in the event of a pre-emptive nuclear strike from the Soviet Union. The Federal Civil Defense Association (FCDA) was the body charged with the mandate of civil defense during the cold war era. President Harry Trueman founded the FDCA in the 1950s from executive order 10186. The association became an official government agency through the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950. One way in which the FCDA managed to educate the American public was through films that were funded by the federal government. 'Duck and cover' was one of the procedures that the government trained the American citizens in the event of a nuclear strike. The government started to conduct nuclear drills in 1954. These drills aimed to show the members of the public how to react in nuclear fallout. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) took over from CONELRAD as the primary alert system.

The end of the Cold War caused the civil defense to fall into disuse. The threat of a nuclear strike had significantly reduced, and the government shifted its attention to Comprehensive Emergency Management(CEM). CEM according to National Governor's Association (1979) is the capability and the responsibility of the state to manage all types of disasters and emergencies, except for those which the military is responsible, and coordinate the actions of various agencies. Natural catastrophes and terrorism shifted the attention of traditional civil defense into new forms of civil protection such as homeland security and emergency management. The government moved to create new bodies such as FEMA to respond to disasters. FEMA is a government agency formed by executive orders in 1979 (FEMA, 2018).

The late 20th century saw a rise in terror attacks against United States overseas assets and those within its borders. There was the 1984 bombing of the United States embassy in Beirut by Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. Then there was the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York. The pattern continued as federal building in Oklahoma became the target of a truck bombing. In 1998, the Sunni Islamist group Al-Qaeda bombed the United States embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salam. All these events culminated into the September 11 attacks which became the worst terrorist attacks in United States history. The attack was a series of four coordinated attacks organized by Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. The attack targeted the twin towers of World Trade Center in New York, The Pentagon in Washington, D.C and the third plane crashed before reaching its target after the passengers of the flight fought the hijackers ( editors, 2018).

After 9/11

The 9/11 attack changed the face of American Civil Defense forever. In the wake of the attack, the then-President George W. Bush announced the creation of the Office of Homeland Security. The former Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge headed the new office. Although the department's responsibilities extend well beyond terrorism, the anti-terror struggle was the primary objective in its early days. Along with the Office of Homeland security, the president created the Homeland Security Council that was supposed to act as the anti-terrorism counterpart to the National Security Council (Miller, 2003). One-year later Congress approved a new department that became known as the Department of Homeland Security. The efforts to enhance homeland security are engraved in three words: prevent, protect and respond. According to Miller (2003), the ideal objective of DHS is the prevention of terrorist attacks. If the protection fails, then it is essential that the department can respond with the most effective measures. It is evident that the aim of the homeland security initiatives during the Bush administration was to reduce the chances of a terror attack occurring. The actions also wanted to minimize the impacts of a terror attack on American soil. The initiatives seek to identify potential attackers and foil their plans or deny them any chance to carry out an attack.

Technically the process of creating DHS was very efficient because the people call for a response against the terrorist attack. Americans were feeling unsafe, and the government wanted to assure them about their security. The joint calls for intervention were the areas of strength for the DHS formation and its initiatives. The process of preventing terror attacks depends on a few strategies and steps. According to Homeland Security, Did You Know? Four Ways DHS Is Working to Prevent Terrorism at Home (2017), there is a four-step process involved in preventing terrorism. First, there is the intelligence gathering which requires collaboration with other agencies such as FBI and the CIA. The information is gathered and analyzed within The Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A). The DHS also collaborates with various organizations across the country to prevent radicalization, which is responsible for the creation of violent extremists. The process involves faith leaders, local government officials, local community leaders, and even government officials. The third step comprises the Office for State and Local Law Enforcement (OSLLE), which works with the first respondents who are always on the frontline of terrorist attacks. The final step involves conducting educational programs to increase public awareness about terrorism and how to overcome the menace. They do that through the five critical elements of the DHS information sharing. These institutions and procedures are primarily focused on defeating the threat of terrorism.


Civil defense is a constantly evolving aspect of American society. The nature of civil defense is dependent on the immediate threat to the country. During the World Wars, the focus of civil defense was on preventing air raids and an invasion from the other countries such as Germany and Japan. During the World Wars, the Council for National Defense carried out the mandate of civil defense. As World War II ended, the nature of the threat to the American civilian population changed and the government had to adopt new ways of protecting its civilian population. The Office of Civilian Defense took over some responsibilities from the Council at the state and local levels of government. The Cold War era introduced the Federal Civil Defense Association whose focus was on protection of Americans from a nuclear strike. The most pressing issue at the time was the threat of a nuclear war, and so the agency was trying to increase the survival rate of the American population in the event of a nuclear strike. The end of the Cold War coincided with the rise of terrorism as America suffered significant losses in its borders and on its overseas assets. The 9/11 terrorist attack lead to the formation of Department of Homeland Security which took over the mandate of civilian defense. Terrorism became the immediate threat to the civilian population, and as such, the operations of homeland s...

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