DHS official promotes new “culture of preparedness”

By Chief Petty Officer Susan Hammond | NORAD andUSNORTHCOM Public Affairs | October 04, 2006

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The nation needs to create a new culture of preparedness, according to George W. Foresman, under secretary for the Preparedness Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security.

Foresman addressed a crowd of hundreds at the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort Tuesday during the 2006 Homeland Defense Symposium, sponsored by the Homeland Defense Foundation and supported by U.S. Northern Command.

“As we all know,” Foresman said, “we’re not going the secure the homeland until we secure the hometowns.”

Foresman spoke to the need for partners in the Department of Defense and, most importantly, partners in the states and communities, to work together to ensure the safety and security of America.

In an interview prior to his symposium address, Foresman said, “DoD has the primary role in the defense of our nation, but they’ve got to do that in partnership with states and communities, the federal civilian community and the private sector – and NORTHCOM has really stepped up to the plate and is serving as that all-important belly button.”

Foresman told the symposium audience that, previously, the nation has viewed preparedness in the context of the last crisis event.

In the new culture of preparedness, “we need to look forward, not back,” he said. “We are all (federal, state and local communities) operating across the same target capabilities. We’re making progress, not in dollars spent, but in terms of capabilities developed.

“But as important as the work that you’re doing, and the great work that Admiral Keating and the team at Northcom is doing on so many homeland defense and homeland security issues,” Foresman said, “there is a lot more to be done.”

The culture of preparedness, he said, includes continuing a national dialog to make sure the public knows its responsibility: to begin individually. A show of hands at the Symposium indicated that only about 10 percent of those in the audience had prepared a crisis plan for their families.

Education is also important, Foresman said, because the coming year will bring major changes in state and local governments.

“When the people change, policy changes, and process and action will change,” he said.

Foresman concluded that Americans can all agree what “homeland” means, which is critical in creating the culture of preparedness in a shared and unified approach.