|White Outlines Homeland Security Job|
White Outlines Homeland Security Job
By Staff Sgt. Marcia Triggs, Army News Service.
Washington D.C. -- (ANS) October 31, 2001 -- Army Secretary Thomas White is currently holding down two other jobs: DoD interim executive agent for Homeland Security and acting assistant secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict.
The temporary appointment as DoD assistant secretary for SOLIC was made by President George Bush Oct. 15.
The appointment was made because homeland security encompasses some aspects of SOLIC such as chemical, biological or radiological threats, White said.
White said his priority will be to make sure American soil is secure against any and all threats.
"I define and view homeland security as having two principal elements," White said. "First there is homeland defense, a Department of Defense-led task involving protection of the United States in every dimension - land, sea, aerospace and protection from computer network attack.
"Second is civil support, where DoD provides assistance to a lead federal agency, which can range from the FBI for domestic counter-terrorism tasks to Health and Human Services for biological attacks."
Traditionally, responses to terrorism were handled by the assistant secretary of defense for SOLIC and the director of Military Support within the Department of the Army. White said that construct no longer works. He envisions consolidating the efforts that concern homeland security to avoid gaps and duplications of capabilities.
The streamlining of homeland security will be the beginning of realignments White will make. He announced Oct. 23 that Department of the Army headquarters would be reshaped to alleviate separate staffs performing the same functions.
White said he has not lost sight of his full-time job as secretary of the Army. The Army started out as a homeland organization 226 years ago, he said. This is not an additional duty, it is an inherent duty, a historical duty, White said.
Homeland security is the most important activity of the Army, White added.
"There are currently 6,000 Guardsmen in over 430 airports around the country, and we have received 70 requests since Sept. 11 from federal agencies for specific types of support," White said. "Guardsmen are deployed protecting power stations in New York and other critical infrastructures."
Reserve-component soldiers will be used for security as deemed appropriate, but on a short-term basis, White said. He explained that soldiers guarding airports and malls will not become a fixture of American life.
"There are in the country 11 million state and local first responders across a broad range of activities in homeland security - local hazmat teams, fire departments, emergency medical teams, and so forth," White said. "They are the first line of defense for homeland security."