Frank Hoffman

Frank Hoffman is a strategic analyst with EDO Corp., and was the principal homeland security analyst for the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, headed by former Sens. Gary Hart and Warren Rudman. The following remarks are excerpted from a paper he presented at a conference sponsored by the Lexington Institute earlier this year. For the full text, go to

There are many definitions of strategy, but the eminent historian John Lewis Gaddis probably defines it best as "the process by which ends are related to means, intentions to capabilities, [and] objectives to resources." If you accept that definition, then President Bush's "National Security Strategy" is probably not the gold standard for strategic statements. It provides no guidance to the subordinate "National Strategy for Homeland Security," and it completely fails at drawing priorities or linking objectives between foreign policy, international trade, defense and domestic security. In many respects the National Security Strategy appears to have been written before Sept. 11, as if the National Security Council were in a time bottle. Aside from incorporating preemption and anticipatory action as a necessary arrow in our strategic quiver, it neglects the realities of the highly interconnected world we live in. It makes only one reference to homeland security, and that comes across as a backhanded aside.

Homeland security should be the core element of an overarching national security strategy. If one believes that the government's first duty is to provide for the common defense, as the president has claimed, then one would expect to find that the security of the American homeland is the primary national security mission of the U.S. government. You should be able to discern this from both the strategy and the agenda of the national security staff supporting the chief executive.

Rather than integrate and prioritize our foreign policy, economic programs and military strategy, and link them together with our agenda for securing the homeland, the Bush administration's first crack at a national security strategy pigeonholes homeland security as a peripheral function in a separate strategy document, with little connection to either the grand strategy or major crisis management processes of the National Security Council, the president's primary vehicle for integrating foreign policy, economic and domestic security issues. . . .

The "National Strategy for Homeland Security" does define major objectives, lists initiatives and even details budget priorities. It breaks down the homeland security functions of the country and includes border and transportation security mechanisms as a critical mission area. However, funding priorities are not clearly aligned with the strategy at all. The strategy argues for protecting Americans and preventing attacks, but the funding priorities lean toward consequence management and post-attack responses. . . .

There are numerous claimants for additional resources, and in the absence of a clear vulnerability assessment and a national intelligence estimate, it is difficult to determine who should be given these resources. Arguably, border and maritime security mechanisms should have first priority on the nation's treasure since they promote prevention and our economic strength and prosperity. The "National Strategy for Homeland Security" is founded on a different set of budget priorities, however. It lists "securing America's borders" as the third-highest priority, behind "support for first responders" and bioterrorism defense. These are worthy areas for the strategy, but America's priorities should seek to protect its way of life and its economic strength by preventing attacks, rather than building up its capacity to respond to the consequences of an attack after it occurs. Consequence management and mitigation should be part of our strategy, but do little to prevent incidents of mass effect and disruption and protect the American people.

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