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Professor Robert Meyer on Increasing Disaster ResilienceProfessor Robert Meyer on Increasing Disaster Resilience


Introduction: Resilience and Homeland Security: What is
it? ?? The Basics
In this initial lesson, we will explore the basics of resilience in the context of homeland security. We will look at definitions,
national documents regarding resilience, and Homeland Security focused Presidential Policy Directives that combine to provide a
framework along with other published work. This first week is designed to provide a starting point for a subject that is in a
constant state of spiral development, and with no end in sight. Why? As the adversary morphs and adapts different threat vectors,
and the risk posed by natural disasters rise, the national approach to resilience, as an element of Homeland Security must do the
same. The reason for this national imperative is simple. Disruptions from transportation nodes and banking, to communications
and national health are imperative to U.S. national survival.

When you think about the term resilience, what definition comes to mind and why? Are there different terms for different
perspectives? What national strategies that involve resilience? Is it simply infrastructure or are there actual critical nodes like
transportation, energy, communications and banking part of the discussion?

Along the same lines, what are the true foundations of resilience from a homeland security perspective? The Department of
Homeland Security Lists them as follows:

1. Adapting to changing conditions
2. Withstanding disruptions
3. Ensuring Rapid Recovery
4. Individual Preparedness (DHS, 2021)

Can you think of examples of each? In the case of ??ensuring Rapid Recovery? does FEMA??s National Disaster Recovery Framework
come to mind? This document is designed to enable effective recovery support to a disaster-impact state(s), tribes, territorial and
local governments. If you have not seen this document, it can be found at this link.

The National Academy of Sciences (2012) offered this approach to consider on this issue,

Understanding, managing, and reducing disaster risks provide a foundation for building resilience to disasters. Risk
represents the potential for hazards to cause adverse effects on our lives; health; economic well-being; social,
environmental, and cultural assets; infrastructure; and the services expected from institutions and the environment (Figure
2.1). The perceptions of and choices made about risk shape how individuals, groups, and public- and private-sector
organizations behave, how they respond during and after a disaster event, and how they plan for future disasters. Most
people have some sense of what risk means to them. However, when pressed to identify or assess disaster risk, or determine
how to select among available options for managing it, ??risk? becomes more difficult to articulate.

The issue of resilience has been the subject of several formal U.S. government documents. Initially the government of the United
States officially recognized resilience in national doctrine via the National Security Strategy (NSS) (2010), see page 18. It is ironic
that this first real validation of the term came in a non-DHS specific document.

In 2020, during National Resilience Month (November) the White House issued a proclamation that highlights the wide range of
areas that resilience touches on. Every single one of these connect back to homeland security either directly or indirectly. Noted
the Proclamation on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month (2020),

Critical infrastructure provides the foundation for our national security and prosperity. During Critical Infrastructure Security
and Resilience Month, we renew our commitment to protecting and securing our Nation??s essential systems for food and
water, healthcare and public health, electric power supplies, emergency services, telecommunications, transportation,
government and banking services, the administration of elections, and beyond. These vital functions and services are
powered by a broad ecosystem of critical infrastructure assets, systems, networks, and workers, and underpin our American
way of life.

The Obama White House National Security Strategy (NSS) (2015) statement on the issue is pretty specific. It noted that ??as a
nation we must enhance our resilience??the ability to adapt to changing conditions and prepare for, withstand, and rapidly recover
from disruption.?

(Source: CISA, 2021)

The 2021 Presidential Proclamation on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience noted:

A key dimension of the Nation??s resilience is safeguarding our democracy, which requires securing our election infrastructure.
We have made tremendous progress working with State and local election officials over the past several years, but there is
more to be done. We are particularly focused on improving the physical security of election officials as they face increasing
threats of violence, securing election systems from cyber attacks, and confronting one of the most significant threats we see
today: disinformation campaigns designed to undermine confidence in our elections, and ultimately, confidence in our
democracy and our democratic institutions.

But what does all this really mean from a practical perspective? Two NSS releases in a row have highlighted this issue. Does it
mean that every facet of the day to day activities in this country should be hardened so tightly and with such restriction that any
attack will be repulsed. What would the impact of the way Americans go about their daily activities? In a practical context it would
mean that the US would adopt the same security standards at airports and screening that Israel has adopted.


OCTOBER 29, 2021

A Proclamation on Critical Infrastructure
Security and Resilience Month, 2021

For generations, American infrastructure ?? from the Erie Canal and the
Transcontinental Railroad to the Hoover Dam ?? has been a cornerstone of
our economic power, providing jobs, facilitating transportation, bolstering
security, and overcoming barriers posed by distance and geography.  During
Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, we renew our
commitment to securing and enhancing the resilience of our Nation??s critical

Threats to the critical infrastructure that we all depend on, which underpins
our economic and national security, are among the most significant and
growing concerns for our Nation, including cyber threats, physical threats,
and climate threats.  Our country has seen how the technologies we rely on
can be targeted by criminal activity and how extreme weather exposes the
weaknesses in our power, water, communication, and transportation
networks.  We must do everything we can to safeguard and strengthen the
systems that protect us; provide energy to power our homes, schools,
hospitals, businesses, and vehicles; maintain our ability to connect; and
ensure that we have reliable access to safe drinking water.  While our Nation
has been resilient as we have navigated this pandemic, we must continue

investing in our workforce to keep pace with the threats we face and ensure
we are building back better.

I am committed to protecting our critical infrastructure and improving
security and resilience efforts across the Nation.  Most of our Nation??s critical
infrastructure ?? from communication lines to transportation networks ??
depends on coordination and cooperation among Federal, State, Tribal, and
local governments, along with industry partners.  That is why, earlier this
year, my Administration launched an Industrial Control Systems
Cybersecurity Initiative to strengthen the security of our country??s critical
infrastructure, which has already created 100-day action plans for the
electricity and natural gas pipeline sectors, with more to come, and we
institutionalized that Initiative with a National Security Memorandum on
Improving Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Control Systems.  The
voluntary initiative is a collaborative effort between the Federal Government
and our private sector partners to significantly improve the cybersecurity of
our critical systems by providing technologies that detect threats and can
respond in essential control system and operational technology networks. 
The Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of
Standards and Technology are also partnering with the private sector to
develop ??performance goals?? ?? cybersecurity baselines that will improve our
Nation??s security if critical infrastructure sectors adopt them.  Finally, critical
infrastructure resilience greatly benefits from close partnerships at home
and abroad, and this October, my Administration launched a Counter
Ransomware Initiative with more than 30 partners and allies.

At home, my Administration is committed to making a once-in-a-generation
investment to prioritize secure, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure.
Streamlining access to Federal programs and grants to help States and local

government build capacity helps ensure we are modernizing our
infrastructure to be more climate-resilient and building a clean energy future
that will create millions of jobs.  The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes
$550 billion for our Nation??s roads and bridges, water infrastructure,
internet, and more.  Our agenda also contains the largest Federal investment
in power transmission in our Nation??s history, ensuring a more reliable grid
that has the capability to carry more renewable energy.  These investments
will strengthen our Nation and bolster our ability to lead, and they will help
mitigate socio-economic disparities, advance racial equity, facilitate
equitable recovery, and promote affordable access to opportunities for every
American.  Protecting our critical transportation infrastructure ?? including
our bridges and roads ?? takes all of us working together.

A key dimension of the Nation??s resilience is safeguarding our democracy,
which requires securing our election infrastructure.  We have made
tremendous progress working with State and local election officials over the
past several years, but there is more to be done.  We are particularly focused
on improving the physical security of election officials as they face increasing
threats of violence, securing election systems from cyber attacks, and
confronting one of the most significant threats we see today:  disinformation
campaigns designed to undermine confidence in our elections, and
ultimately, confidence in our democracy and our democratic institutions.

The threats against our critical infrastructure are increasingly complex and
nuanced, and we all must be prepared to better protect ourselves from
malicious actors threatening our cyber and physical security.  That means
staying vigilant, investing in new security measures, being prepared to
respond to threats, and collaborating more with our partners.  During
Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, we reaffirm our

commitment to protecting our infrastructure today and securing it for

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States
of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and
the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2021 as Critical
Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month.  I call upon the people of the
United States to recognize the importance of protecting our Nation??s
infrastructure and to observe this month with appropriate measures to
enhance our national security and resilience.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day
of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the
Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-



The Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security offered a unique insight into how this cabinet level agency viewed the issue.
The 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) was the document to offer this perspective.

The QHSR is an important foundational document in this discussion as it established multiple resilience goals and
objectives in the areas of critical infrastructure, supply chain systems, and cyber. The resilience of all of these areas,
and other sectors covered by the QHSR is a national imperative. Recent threat activities in the cyber sphere
underscores this need. From OPM, and Home Depot, to EQUIFAX and even the Department of Homeland Security itself
have suffered breaches.

DHS specifically noted in the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR):

This second quadrennial review reflects a more focused, collaborative Departmental strategy, planning, and
analytic capability. The risk-informed priorities set forth in this Review will drive operational planning, as well as
analysis of resource and capability options and tradeoffs over the next four years. The Review also recognizes the
responsibility the Department shares with hundreds of thousands of people across the federal, state, local, tribal,
and territorial governments, the private sector, and other nongovernmental organizations, and provides a path
forward for engaging in public-private partnerships. These are the people who regularly interact with the public,
who are responsible for public safety and security, which own and operate our nation??s critical infrastructure and
services, who perform research and develop technology, and who keep watch, prepare for, and respond to
emerging threats and disasters.

It should come as no surprise that one of the five QHSR missions is devoted to resilience: Mission 5 ?? Strengthening
National Preparedness and Resilience. It should be noted the Congressionally mandated 2018 QHSR was never

But there are even more agencies, within the Department of Homeland Security such as the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, (FEMA) which released the country’s first-ever National Preparedness Goal in 2011. Again,
another foundational document dealing with resilience.


The creation, in 2018, of the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) assed to the national
resilience effort. According to that agency??s web site:

We coordinate security and resilience efforts using trusted partnerships across the private and public sectors and
deliver technical assistance and assessments to federal stakeholders as well as to infrastructure owners and operators
nationwide. CISA (n.d.) also delivers insights on these assessments related to current capabilities to identify gaps,
which??along with an examination of emerging technologies??help determine the demand for future capabilities (both
near- and long-term).

CISA has developed Sector Coordinating Councils (SCC) that are, ??self-organized and self-governed councils that
enable critical infrastructure owners and operators, their trade associations, and other industry representatives to
interact on a wide range of sector-specific strategies, policies, and activities. The SCCs coordinate and collaborate with
sector-specific agencies (SSAs) and related Government Coordinating Councils (GCCs) to address the entire range of
critical infrastructure security and resilience policies and efforts for that sector.?

Finally, perhaps the document that is most talked about regarding resilience is President Policy Directives-8 or PDD-8.
Within this PDD a vision is presented for nationwide preparedness and identifies the core capabilities and targets
necessary to achieve preparedness across the following five mission areas: prevention, protection, mitigation,
response and recovery. Recognizing that preparedness is a shared responsibility, Presidential Policy Directive / PPD-8:
National Preparedness was signed by the President on March 30, 2011.

At its core, PPD-8 requires the involvement of everyone??not just the government??in a systematic effort to keep the
nation safe from harm and resilient when struck by hazards, such as natural disasters, acts of terrorism and
pandemics. When you think about it in the purest sense, isn??t that what resilience as an element of Homeland Security
really is?

One other Homeland Security resilience issue that has received a lot of focus from DHS?? Office of Academic
Engagement or OAE is the new Campus Resilience program. Released in April of 2018 this program which was based
on TableTop Exercises (TTX). This effort is driven by active shooter type events.

This policy directive calls on federal departments and agencies to work with the whole community to develop a
national preparedness goal and a series of frameworks and plans related to reaching the goal.

To help resilience get the kind of academic focus that it should the Department of Homeland Security Science and
Technology Directorate Office of University programs has established two academic centers of excellence. One is at the
University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) ?? Coastal Resilience Center or CRC and one at the University of Illinois
Champaign-Urbana ?? the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute or CIRI. To get an understand of the research that
has done please visit these links:

Finally, to get a real sense of where the issue of Homeland Security and resilience stands entering 2021 listen to the
speech by Dr. Stephen Flynn, the Founding Director of the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern University, and
one of America??s true experts on resilience. The link for this closed caption ??Skype speech? from the 2020 Maritime

Risk Symposium provides Dr. Flynn??s perspective on maritime resilience in the face of growing human-made and
naturally occurring turbulence.

As you consider this issue keep in mind that the new Administration has issued Interim National Security Strategic
Guidance. Noted the Congressional Research Service:

In drafting national security strategies, every administration faces central questions about how the U.S.
government should define and advance national security. The Biden Administration argues that the COVID-19
pandemic and other systemic issues, including (but not limited to) climate change and the rise of anti-democratic
authoritarian populism, are forcing the United States to take an expansive view of what constitutes matters of
national security. In so doing, the INSSG articulates some continuity with the Trump Administration in identifying
the challenge that strategic competition with China poses to U.S. national security. (Congressional Research

What will be the impact on national resilience with this framework for the National Security Strategy? This is what the
Congressional Research Service noted:

How might Interagency Resources be Rebalanced? Since 2001, the Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S.
military have taken on missions beyond traditional warfighting responsibilities (including, but not limited to,
providing more security assistance and assisting with international disease responses). The State Department,
the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Trade Representative, and other agencies
provide critical national security capabilities, but possess narrower authorities and command fewer budgetary and
personnel resources.

How does national resilience get impacted or does it? Is there a direct connection between the NSS and national


CISA. (n.d.). About CISA.

Department of Homeland Security (2021) Resilience: Foundations of Resilience.

Department of Homeland Security. (2014, June 18). The 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.

Executive Office of the President. (2020, October 30). Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, 2020.

The National Academies. (2012). Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, Chapter 4.

The White House. (2010, May). National Security Strategy.

The White House. (2015, February). National Security Strategy.

White House (2021, October) Presidential Proclamation on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month.

Congressional Research Service. (2021, March) The Interim National Security Strategic Guidance.


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