Department of Homeland Security must be ready to combat new and emerging threats
The threats America faces today are vast, evolving, and from new adversaries. We must take steps to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency tasked with identifying these threats and preventing harm to our nation, is able to attack these threats head on.
While DHS may be our nation’s newest department, it by no means our most modern. The department was created in the chaos of 9/11 to respond to the rise of global jihadist operations. While DHS has largely found success in stopping those threats before they ever reach our shores, it must today be prepared to handle cyberhackers, rival nation-states, and transnational criminal organizations, in addition to global jihadists.
Rising powers are using asymmetrical attacks to weaken our leadership role and global influence. China, Russia, Iran and North Korea all have state-sponsored programs designed to harm the United States. From satellites to social media, there isn’t an area free from intense competition.
For example, online influence efforts can destabilize our neighbors, affect migration flows and threaten the integrity of our elections here at home. China’s Belt and Road Initiative – infrastructure and investment initiatives across Europe and Asia – is holding our foreign partners hostage through cheap, state-back loans. Intellectual property theft means American innovation is being lifted straight out of our laboratories.
These threats either didn’t exist or weren’t on DHS’s radar when it was created in 2002.
Further, we are facing new challenges from terrorism at home and abroad. New technology has made online radicalization free, easy and anonymous. Acts of terrorism can be simple and viral. “Lone wolf” actors are difficult to identify and stop.
We need a department that can detect, prevent and respond to these emerging threats head on. To achieve this goal, recently I announced the American Security Agenda – a long-term effort by House Homeland Security Republicans to modernize and equip DHS for the threats of today as it prepares for the threats of tomorrow.
The American Security Agenda is founded on three pillars: giving DHS with the authority it needs to stay ahead of emerging threats; providing the department and its state, local and private sector partners with resources to deter terrorism; and improving the structure and management of DHS so that it can combat evolving threats.
Homeland Security Committee Republicans have already introduced five bills this in recent days. Their objectives range from securing our supply chains, identifying and mitigating transit threats, to combatting transnational security organizations.
However, these bills are just the start: more proposals are already in the works that we hope to introduce soon as part of our agenda.
This initiative imagines a DHS that is faster, smarter, and better equipped to preempt and combat rivals and adversaries across the globe. The American Security Agenda’s ultimate goal is the continued security of our homeland.
Rogers is ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
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