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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Publishing Note: "Solving the West's Middle Eastern Dilemma"

A non-affiliated treatise, "Solving the West's Middle Eastern Dilemma: Regional State Empowerment," is now available on  It addresses how Western states, including the United States, can help resolve the quagmire of the Middle East and Northern Africa without being directly responsible for the conflicts and their outcomes.

As the situation with ISIS continues to develop -- alongside shifting efforts and messaging from Boko Haram, al Shabaab, al Qaeda, and rebel/terrorist groups throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and lower Africa -- it's clear, more than a decade after first entering Afghanistan for post-9/11 goals, that the United States and the West do not have a successful strategy for addressing asymmetric warfare or rebel conflicts. Although there exists an overall strategy, there is no demonstrable record of success or engagement beyond the ability to achieve carefully articulated goals. Placed in the wider context of the United States' involvement with MENA for more than the last half-century, it's clear a new strategy must be developed -- one that does more than hope for the growth of civil society or assume that removing the evil du jour creates a vacuum to be automatically filled by benevolent actors.

The next evolution of Western strategy in the Middle East and North Africa is precisely as it always should have been: facilitating change rather than forcing it.

Brady, K. (2015). Solving the West's Middle Eastern Dilemma: Regional State Empowerment. Retrieved from

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In Brief: DHS Risk Assessment -- Charted

Note: this is an excerpted response to a PSU course prompt on risk management formulas/strategies within the Department of Homeland Security.  The following charts and formulas demonstrate, generally, the way in which risk is calculated for in a homeland security context.


At its core, the Risk Assessment and Management (RAM) formula can be expressed as

R = V*T*C

where R is Risk, V is Value, T is Threat, and and C is Consequence. Once calculated, these variables are multiplied, accounting for weighted preferences. However, different iterations of this formula have existed, with different preferences identified.

At present, the formula is calculated as outlined, with Threat (a 20% weight) standing as a separate variable while Vulnerability and Consequence (an 80% weight) are engaged as a unified entity:

R = .2T * .8(V+C)

While T is defined by the Threat Index, Vulnerability and Consequence are defined as weighted sum of four separate indexes (each identified and defined separately): the Population Index (40%), the National Infrastructure Index (15%), the Economic Index (20%), and National Security Index (5%):

R = .2T * .8(.4PI + .15II + .2EI + .05SI)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Publishing Note: Law Enforcement and Homeland Security

My latest paper, "The Role of Federal Law Enforcement in Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security," is now available on  It addresses the homeland security vision and expanded mission of the federal law enforcement community in the modern threat environment.

The federal law enforcement community -- the collection of agencies and departments within the federal government responsible for a variety of activities related to the protection of the American public -- fulfills its wide-ranging daily duties in its physical, enforcement, and investigative forms, with each constituent member pursuing its individual mission within both mandate and jurisdiction. Although these mandates and jurisdictions often overlap or even conflict, there exists only one area in which the entire community pursues the same goal: preventing terrorism and enhancing security. Each member interprets and understands this goal in different ways, pursuant to its special skills and interests, but the mission is universal. Understanding how federal law enforcement engages in terrorism prevention and security enhancement is, therefore, an essential aspect of understanding modern homeland security in the United States.

Brady, K. (2015). The Role of Federal Law Enforcement in Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security. Retrieved from

Thursday, March 19, 2015

In Brief: Homeland Security and Risk Management

Note: this is a response to a PSU course prompt on the use of risk management formulas/strategies in a homeland security context.


The current approach, as well as those considered typical, to identifying and acting upon risk is overly dependent upon formulas and numerical assessments -- like many aspects of modern social science, such an approach very clearly attempts to quantify what is not inherently quantifiable. Instead, an all-of-nation approach to an all-hazards environment -- which should invariably include terrorism and other actor-driven threats to the homeland -- should incorporate more qualitative aspects and place a greater value on items not inherently calculable as high-risk. By insisting upon a dry formula that heavily weighs population size/density and other populace-driven factors, the current homeland security risk management strategy remains lacking.

Factors that rely upon perception and reputation should have a far greater involvement in the consideration of actor-driven aspects of all-hazard risk management: by very definition, the likelihood of terror attacks being executed on non-symbolic, unimportant targets is extraordinarily slim. Any assessment of non-critical, non-strategic targets with high cultural, reputational, or symbolic value brings to light the fact that they are not necessarily within highly populated, dense urban environments where a casualty rate would be invariably high -- the Hoover Dam, the Great Canyon, and other national treasures (parks, forests, landmarks, etc.) all stand as fine examples. However, easily recognized targets of low population (and low levels of protection) are neatly sidelined in risk calculations heavily dependent upon the nature of the local populace.

Additionally, a great emphasis is placed on prioritizing efforts in order to distribute funds unevenly. Although this is appropriate for certain levels of risk -- such as high-value, essential physical assets in Washington, D.C. -- it creates the distinct possibility of over-funding risk management efforts that actually require lesser funds to be successful. In this way, it would seem that a tiered prioritization may be more effective (Tier 1: unevenly allocated resources; Tier 2: evenly allocated resources amongst all identified targets) on the principle that some protection against an all-hazards environment, in an all-of-nation approach, is far better than none. Much can be done with little; nothing can be done with none.

In Brief: Emergency/Disaster Response Responsibility

Note: this is a response to a PSU course prompt on the responsibilities of different levels of government in emergency/disaster response.


According to the current structures, the local and state governments are most immediately and fully responsible for preparing for, responding to, recovering from, and protecting against and/or mitigating future disasters. Only when their abilities are wholly overwhelmed may the federal government, upon request, provide either funds or assistance. In this system, the burden is unquestionably placed upon the states, with the federal government acting as a guarantor against the failure of any given state in any given disaster. This, in theory, creates accountability, as the state and its subordinate governments must tend to their own interests before outside assistance may be received. First responders are, of course, those who first respond: assessing and addressing the situation as presented and as it develops.

However, this also creates a parallel possibility: states and their local governments willfully failing to allocate the funds and resources necessary to wholly address the requisite variety of issues, with the intent to be more quickly overwhelmed and justified in their request for federal assistance. In such a scenario, a poorly funded disaster response program takes lesser funds from the relevant budgets, since the federal government would, as difficulties reached a certain level deserving of the title “disaster,” be -- in theory -- an externally funded, well resourced, highly effective intercessor. Although this approach, if taken, may appear to be cynical and self-serving, those states, counties, cities, towns, and tribal governments in desperate fiscal trouble may, instead, perceive it to be an intelligent way to address disasters without allocating any more funds than minimally necessary.

As such, the responsibilities of each level of government in the courses of preparation for and response to emergencies or disasters are not as clear as the Department of Homeland Security, its plans and guidance, FEMA, and other entities would otherwise like to claim. The standards by which both a sufficiently ruinous disaster and the relevant governments’ exhaustion are judged are far from explicit or fully enumerated. In the rich tradition of the United States, it should only be expected that a multitude of governments will attempt to reallocate responsibility and blame to other governments or entities, in order to save money, time, reputation, and resources.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

In Brief: Tolerance of Failures in Homeland and National Security

Note: this is a response to a PSU course prompt on whether the homeland security environment can tolerate mistakes.


The theatre of homeland security, as with its national security and homeland defense counterparts, permits no room for errors in judgement, interpretation, or action. Any faulty course of action bears the heavy responsibility of participating in a devastating chain of events that may result in the loss of American lives, property, or ideals. Every front-line mission requires the full attention and proper conduct of its participants, lest a mistake be made that results in not only mission failure, but also additional, larger-scale consequences. There are very rarely opportunities to correct or re-attempt prior failures, so proper action must be undertaken first and always.

Generally applied, this inability to tolerate failure can be consistently held as true; however, at the level of the individual, there may actually be more room for tolerance, depending upon the job description and mission-critical status of their particular job. This room for tolerance may also be deceiving, as it is not as widespread as one may be led to believe: any individual involved in conducting, directing, or developing mission-critical actions, environments, or procedures are not permitted to make errors of any kind. Only those who are not, in any fashion, tied to the actual execution of the mission -- such as payroll or human resources offices -- can be said to have positions free of action-dependent, potentially catastrophic outcomes. In this way, much of the Department of Homeland Security’s personnel, the national security community, the intelligence community, and the U.S. Armed Forces are in a high-stress, no-failure environment. Although this type of pressure may be difficult and undesired, it is inherently tied to the duties of the fields: mistakes may mean death or destruction caused by laziness, ignorance, or negligence.

This, quite simply, can not be permitted.