Homeland Security Chief Hails Partnership With DoD
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 21, 2002 WASHINGTON, May 21, 2002 – The nation's Homeland Defense chief today praised his organization's partnership with the Department of Defense to protect America against terrorist attack.
Thomas Ridge, director of the U.S. Office of Homeland Security, gestures to make a point as, from left, Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Jose Maria Figueres, managing director, World Economic Forum; and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz look on May 21 at the 2002 World Economic Forum's annual meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"There are a lot of synergies between what DoD has done and is doing and homeland security," Thomas Ridge, director of the U.S. Office of Homeland Security, said at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
The address was timely; since Vice President Dick Cheney had said two days earlier that another terrorist attack on American soil was imminent.
As the United States prepares for another possible terrorist attack, Ridge said Americans need to understand that such an attack is "not really a question of if; it's a question of when."
Based upon intelligence information, America is now "at a national level of alert," denoting an elevated risk and sense of threat, Ridge said. The color code for this risk, he added, is now at "yellow." Measuring an "elevated" level of threat of terrorist attack as part of the Homeland Security Advisory System, the yellow code falls at mid-level among five color codes. These include green (low risk of threat), blue (guarded risk of threat), yellow (elevated risk of threat), orange (high risk of threat), and red (severe risk of threat).
If the U.S. attorney general receives "creditable, collaborative information," he can raise the national level of awareness and threat, Ridge said, adding, "That hasn't been done; we're still at an elevated level of risk."
However, Ridge said the recent warning about apartment buildings and other terrorist threats didn't cause authorities to adjust the national threat level upward.
That information was shared with the American public, Ridge said, since terrorists have used suicide bombers and blown up apartment buildings all over the world. "This is really no secret to those who've watched terrorist activity around the world, because on previous occasions in other parts of the world they have brought their terror to civilians in apartment buildings," Ridge said. "We received information that suggested that this could be a possible area of attack, so we put it out."
Ridge lauded DoD's efforts in fighting terrorists overseas and the department's homeland security efforts, including combat air patrols and airport security. He also spoke warmly about DoD help in securing borders, river ports and seaports. He also noted that DoD has provided biological and chemical weapons detectors and public strategies for use against such weaponry.
Ridge pointed to the proposed Oct. 1 stand up of U.S. Northern Command as a means of strengthening American defense and security. This provides homeland security efforts with a single point of contact with the Department of Defense, he added.
"Now, I think there will be an even closer relationship between the Office of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense," Ridge said.
Homeland security efforts are "a work in progress," Ridge noted, adding that the day-to-day working relationship with DoD "will be substantially enhanced" by the creation of Northern Command.
"We can plan and prepare unlike we've ever been able to do before," Ridge concluded.