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The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is an agency of the US federal government responsible for public security. DHS is primarily concerned with border security, immigration and customs, antiterrorism, disaster management and prevention, and cybersecurity (Ruffin, 2005). The Department of Defense (DoD) is mostly concerned with military undertakings abroad while DHS works within and outside US borders (Ruffin, 2005). The major objective of DHS is to prevent, prepare for and respond appropriately to domestic emergencies such as terrorism and disasters. The department is roughly equated with the departments of interior or home affairs in other countries. According to Streissguth (2012), the DHS was formed in response to the September 11 attacks. After the attacks, President Bush established the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) and mandated it to coordinate security efforts in the country. Streissguth (2012) further writes that the President appointed Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor to head OHS. DSH was officially established on November 25, 2000, after the enactment of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Streissguth, 2012). The department was intended to consolidate all executive organizations concerned with homeland security into a single agency. [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

In 2003, DHS assumed the duties of Immigration and Naturalization Service and absorbed it (Streissguth, 2012). Two new agencies were created under DHS to work on enforcement and services: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Intelligence and investigation were brought under Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) (Ruffin, 2005). All the earlier border enforcement functions were consolidated under a new agency renamed US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Other major agencies under DHS include Transport and Security Administration (TSA), United States Coast Guard (USCG), United States Secret Service (USSS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (Streissguth, 2012). DHS developed the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as a standard approach to respond to incidents in the country. This approach was established to coordinate all responders to an incident. NIMS is based on the Incident Command System (ICS), the Multiagency Coordination System and the Public Information System. The ICS was initially developed in California to respond the menace of wildfires but was later adopted into the NIMS (Streissguth, 2012).
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To better facilitate response to disasters and emergencies, DHS developed the National Response Framework (NRF) to guide all levels of the department in preparing and responding to different situations. The NRF was the successor to the (National Response Plan NRP). DHS is, therefore, part of the Homeland Security Enterprise (HSE) which refers to the broader range of departments, agencies, organizations and partnerships that work towards ensuring the security of the US (Streissguth, 2012). The DHS conducts a quadrennial review known as the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) to track its operations, gauge progress, and set new goals. With the challenges of terror, the Department established the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) to provide alerts and bulletins on matters of terror. At the formation of the DHS, there were controversies on whether the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) should be incorporated into the department. However, they were not incorporated into the DHS (Streissguth, 2012).

Through restructurings over the years, new units have been created or incorporated into the DHS. The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) designs and develops strategies to detect nuclear threats across the country (Streissguth, 2012). The Directorate for Management is charged with administrative functions of the DHS including budgets, performance monitoring, and human resources management.
Streissguth (2012) observes that although DHS officially started its operations in January 2003, it took a few months before all the different agencies were incorporated within the department. Ridge resigned from the department in November 2004 after President Bush was reelected. The President then nominated Bernard Kerik to succeed him. Kerik had previously served as the head of New York Police Department. However, Kerik declined the nomination citing personal reasons. President Bush then nominated federal Judge Michael Chertoff, and the Senate confirmed him (Streissguth, 2012).

Today, DHS is the third largest cabinet division in the US federal government after Defense and Veterans Affairs. The department employs over 240,000 employees across its many directorates (Homeland Security, n.d.). Much of Homeland Security is coordinated from the White House through the Homeland Security Council (HSC). The creation of the DHS was therefore out of a necessity to coordinate all aspects relating to the internal affairs of the country. Previously, coordinating the several departments charged with homeland security was often difficult since they fell under different cabinet departments.  [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

Homeland Security. (n.d.). About DHS.

Ruffin, D. (2005). The duties and responsibilities of the Secretary of Homeland Security. New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group.

Streissguth, T. (2012). The security agencies of the United States: How the CIA, FBI, NSA, and Homeland Security keep us safe. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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