White Announces Realignments to Address Homeland Security
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2001 Army Secretary Thomas E. White, wearing his hat as the Defense Department's executive agent for homeland security, today announced DoD is realigning resources to better address ongoing and possible future terrorist threats to the nation.
White told Pentagon reporters of his Senate committee hearing Oct. 25, which addressed the protection of the United States and its citizens from terrorists' acts. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Air Force Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, commander of the U.S. Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, were among senior DoD officials who accompanied White.
In view of the current U.S. situation in regard to global terrorism, three principal tasks need to be accomplished, White noted, adding, "We're working on all three."
According to White, DoD will:
- Consolidate responsibility for homeland security and its associated issues and functions across the DoD staff into a single organization.
- Complete a review of operational planning for homeland security through the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Staff and the unified commands.
- Establish communications, coordination between the Office of Homeland Security, headed by former Pennsylvania Gov. Thomas Ridge, and DoD and its agencies.
White, designated Oct. 2 by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld as DoD's executive agent for homeland security matters, said he looks at homeland security as having two main components.
"The first is homeland defense, and I define 'defense' as those areas where the department takes the lead in the activity," he said. That would the likes of combat air patrols, which are Eberhart's purview as head of NORAD. This also includes maritime and coastal security, White added, under the purview of Joint Forces Command, in conjunction with the Coast Guard.
"So, there are a set of activities where the unique capabilities of the department cause us to be the lead," White remarked.
Secondly, White added, there are "other activities where we provide support as requested to other federal agencies that have the lead, and we call that civil support." That support, he said, can involve "a wide range" of DoD assistance provided to federal, state and local organizations.
To illustrate a form of DoD-provided civil support, White pointed to National Guard members activated for various homeland security missions in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. National Guard members, he added, normally fall under the control of their state governors.
"But, federal money is paying for those (homeland security) activities. That would include airport security, for example," White said.