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Defending the Homeland Is a 'Must Win' Game

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2004 – The mission of homeland security is like playing an "away game and a home game," said the U.S. military's homeland defense commander. In war, just as in sports, it's the away game that you "want to win," but it is the home game that you "must win."

Air Force Gen. Ralph Eberhart, head of U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., used the analogy to explain his views on how to handle the nation's security challenges. He spoke Feb. 25 at the 2004 Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association Homeland Security Conference here.

Eberhart, who also heads the North American Aerospace Defense Command co- located at Peterson, added that he agrees with the president's policy on pre- emptive measures against attacks. "A good offense is much better than a defense here," he said. "We should concentrate our efforts on deter, defend and defeat."

Eberhart said that he believes deterrence works well against terrorism, just like it did during the Cold War. "I believe we can prevent terrorism, I believe we can defeat it, but if all else fails, we'd better be pretty good at cleaning up after it."

The general said that throughout the nation's history, the country has been involved mostly in the away game, resulting in the U.S. focusing equipment, contingency operations and military tactics to wage wars on foreign soil. That strategy is the "game we want to play," Eberhart said. "That's the war we want to wage. We don't want the fans, the citizens in the stands in proximity to the battle.

"I'm not hear telling you this morning that we need to pull the throttle back on the away game. We want to defend as far forward as we possibly can."

However, he also emphasized that more attention needs to be put on the "home game" of defending the United States. There needs to be more jointness and interoperability in the efforts of homeland defense and homeland security.

He said the relationships among first responders cut across all federal, state, county and local levels. "When we talk about relationships, we redefine jointness and interoperability. I'm not naive enough to say that in this nation you can buy the same radio and same uniform for all first responders out there," Eberhart pointed out. "But what you can do is make sure that they are compatible that you can talk to one another, that you train alike, that you use the same lexicon."

In addition, Eberhart stressed the need to share intelligence information between agencies. "We need to change from the 'need to know' Cold War mentality to the 'need to share,' in my view in this global war on terrorism, where we've used all the instruments of national power for both the away game and the home game."

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