After reading the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Strategic Plan: Discuss the focus and direction of the strategic plan providing three ups (good things about it) and three downs (three things that could be improved) in the plan.
The nation’s Homeland Security organizations are constantly faced with an evolving and changing threat landscape. From terrorism, criminal activity, pandemics and diseases, to the threats of an ever-changing environment causing more intense and frequent natural disasters, homeland security organizations must stay abreast of threats and hazards and adjust strategy appropriately to serve the needs of their communities. Strategic planning is the process by which agencies, organizations, and broader homeland security systems examine the threat landscape and develop a multiyear strategy to address and mitigate those threats and hazards.
Strategic planning focuses on the broad goals, objectives, and strategies organizations use to ultimately achieve their mission. Strategic planning does not direct the tactical response to an incident; rather, it helps to acquire resources, align priorities, and focus actions within the parameters set by budgets and the current threat or hazards. Strategic planning is the broadest planning level in the overarching planning continuum depicted below.
Strategic, Operational, and Tactical Planning Levels
Source: Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101, 2010
Starting at the broad level, Strategic Planning focuses on broad policy objectives aimed at achieving a stated mission. Strategic plans aim to implement senior leadership’s planning priorities and create a blueprint for the organization (Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 2010). Throughout the course, students will review a number of strategic plans such as the DHS 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, which will be discussed later.
Operations-based plans translate broad strategies into action. These plans describe what organizations need to do during an operation such as the response to a natural disaster or attack. These plans assess threats and assign specific tasks to agencies within a community that must be completed during an operation. Development of operational plans requires close coordination with a community’s public, private, and non-profit partners (FEMA, 2010). Examples of operational plans include Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) and functional specific plans, such as a public health and medical preparedness plans.
At the most granular level are tactical plans. Tactical plans direct resources and operations during a defined operational period (e.g., 12/24 hours) in an effort to accomplish a defined measurable outcome during a Homeland Security incident or disaster. During tactical planning, agencies examine the specific resources, equipment, and organizations needed to accomplish a given mission (FEMA, 2010). These are typically documented through an operational period’s Incident Action Plan (IAP). Understanding the key nuances between these three levels of planning is critical in understanding the role that Strategic Planning plays in Homeland Security organizations.
References: DHS (Department of Homeland Security). (2014). Fiscal years 2014–2018 strategic plan.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). (2010, November). Developing and maintaining emergency operations plans: Comprehensive preparedness guide (CPG) 101, version 2.0.
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