Mr. Simental, Dr. White, and Mr. Holst were awarded funding by the U.S. Homeland Defense Institute sponsored by the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) for a research study examining: 21st Century Homeland Defense & Civil Defense. Research findings will be presented at the FY23 Homeland Defense Awareness Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO in July 2023.
Study Abstract: The 2022 war in Ukraine has raised prospects of a nuclear exchange between Russia and the US to a height not seen since the Cold War. Civil defense arose from concerns about direct military strikes on civilian populations stemming from airpower advances in World War I that only increased in range and lethality during World War II and the Cold War. The twin goals of 1) protecting the population, and 2) preserving federal government became key elements of US nuclear deterrent strategy. The national debate starting with the Truman Administration was how to cost-effectively protect the population; both sheltering and evacuation are expensive. A solution arose during the Johnson Administration with proposed dual-use funding for both civil defense and natural disasters. Following the Cold War, the Bush Administration in 1992 significantly altered civil defense policy by: 1) giving natural disasters precedence, and 2) removing the federal government from a lead role. After 9/11, these changes were subsumed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency into the Department of Homeland Security and are today governed by the National Response Framework. The overarching question this study addresses is whether an evolved civil defense policy now oriented towards non-state threats, both natural and manmade, is equally capable of dealing with an advanced state-based threat in the form of massive nuclear, cyber, or EMP attack.
This study seeks to examine the following research questions:
- What does 21st century civil defense look like? Is there a viable path to establishing an organization that meaningfully increases national resilience?
- What should homeland defense defend? What do citizens think versus what national leadership expects versus what can actually be defended? Are there gaps, and, if so, how can they be filled?
- What are the most likely/most dangerous HD threats, in rank order, and how to they align with current defensive infrastructure?
- What lessons can NORAD & NORTHCOM draw from allies and partners currently facing homeland defense attacks?
- How do Civil Defense programs posture themselves for future homeland defense threats?
- What are the most probable forms of attack & levels of destruction the United States should prioritize and base its Civil Defense programs on?
- What are the key CD lessons learned from attacks on U.S. Allies?
- What is the ideal framework for national alignment of HD & CD activities across all levels of government?
- What are the real and perceived perspectives of HD by the public vs. military?
- What are the physical, legal, & political constraints preventing the establishment of Civil Defense Programs?