DOD releases first homeland defense strategy

Protecting the homeland is likely to require new technologies in the areas of advanced information and communication, sensors, and non-lethal capabilities, according to the Pentagon's first Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support released this week.

The 46-page document describes a strategy of layered defense that includes achieving a maximum awareness of threats, intercepting threats at a distance, responding to and mitigating attacks, and maintaining and improving homeland defense capabilities.

Consistent with the strategy is the need to make IT investments, especially for improving maritime domain awareness, intercepting weapons of mass destruction, responding to chemical and biological attacks and maintaining continuity of operations, the Pentagon report said.

Advanced IT simulation techniques are needed for "threat identification, pattern analysis, risk assessment, dependency analysis and cost/benefit calculations," the document said.

Developing these will be critical for data sharing, security and interoperability, as well as for maximizing the benefits of sensors, detectors, command and control, and human intelligence collection and analysis, according to the report.

New sensor technologies are needed over sea and land, especially in improving border surveillance. They also are needed for detecting underwater objects, people and concealed chemical, biological, radiological, explosive and nuclear weapons. Sensor will also help map contamination and may be placed in high-altitude platforms, including unmanned aerial vehicles, satellites and aerostats,. New ground sensors may have "over-the-horizon" capabilities, the report said.

Non-lethal capabilities may need to be developed to minimize risks in major urban centers. These new technologies may include devices to incapacitate individuals or groups or deny entry to an area, disable vehicles or neutralize facilities, systems and weapons.

"The Department will expand basic research into the physiological effects of non-lethal weapons," the Pentagon document said. "The department will also identify opportunities to share appropriate non-lethal capabilities with domestic law enforcement agencies."

The report recommends that the Defense Department immediately assess the costs and benefits of expanding information-sharing while protecting the integrity of the Global Information Grid, improving intelligence assets to improve overall threat awareness, and procuring advanced technologies to maximize awareness of threats, among other goals.

Other goals include building enhanced maritime awareness and response capabilities and improved support to civil authorities.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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