Command and Control in the Homeland

Command and control is a group of technical and organizational attributes that employs physical and human resources to accomplish missions. To achieve this, different approaches can be used that either use local agencies to firstly rely on, or governmental organizations. The department that also takes part in accomplishing missions is the Department of Homeland Security that aims to protect the nation from many threats. It also has other duties such as border control, aviation security, and cybersecurity, and emergency response.

Bottom-Up Approach

When the provision of homeland security is needed, it can either be organized by guiding from federal to local agencies or vice versa. A bottom-up approach uses the locals’ needs and ensures they are heard at the top (Freed, 2017). Moreover, this process builds resilience and local capacity, so that these communities can respond to danger and send aid anywhere. Although it is believed that those with more authority and knowledge should be in command, the bottom-up approach creates collaboration and experience sharing. This is because local agencies are more aware of the situation that occurs on their level of governing. For instance, bottom-up reviews containing data from the Department of Homeland Security focus on strengthening the department’s performance, improving operations, and increasing accountability (“Department of Homeland Security”, n.d.a). All parts of the department are assessed, meaning that all of them play an essential role in the review development process.

Command Options in the Homeland

Four command choices are available for the US civilian and military leadership: state command, parallel command, dual-status command, and federal command (Burkett, 2008). The state command includes only National Guard forces, which are ordered by the Governor. Every action of National Guard employment is sponsored by the state and executed according to state law. Several hundreds of Guardsmen perform their duties in missions such as incidence response, search and rescue, and protection of critical infrastructure. These missions protect against domestic attackers and provide support for the nation’s homeland defense. The state command engages the Joint Force Headquarters to act as a connector for a response on a national level.

The parallel command involves federal forces under the supervision of the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). In the case of civil support operations, the Department-of-Defense-approved requests are responded to the federal military, and the USNORTHCOM sends forces in parallel with Guard forces (Burkett, 2008). In addition, the National Guard is supposed to be already engaged in the operation. The parallel command was implemented in the Winter Freeze operation in which Navy salvage divers were deployed to multiple Joint Task Forces. The main disadvantage of this command is its high complexity of coordination because the duties have to be divided at the operational level.

The dual-status command combines the benefits of the parallel and state command options. It addresses the command unity dilemma so that the National Guard commanders are put in for the Federal Act duty (Burkett, 2008). This option gives one person statutory authority and allows him or her to command both the federal and state military at the same time. For example, the National Guard forces perform state missions under the Governor’s authority. The advantage of this option is that it allows for the explicit commands and operational integration of federal military forces. However, among disadvantages, there are bureaucratic complexity and separation of operation lines.

The federal command implies federalization and integration of National Guard forces with acitve-duty under the control and command of the USNORTHCOM. The government is unlikely to resort to this option unless the country is overwhelmed being under threat and the government fails to operate (Burkett, 2008). If these conditions take place, the president is obliged to enforce the United States laws and restore public order. The federal government makes decisions, and the president’s involvement is expected to be crucial until restoring civil authority. The advantage of this option is that it establishes effort and unity of command and preserves the US sovereignty. If there is no standardized approach to control and command, then it can lead to detrimental consequences for the country as there is no response when it is needed.

Military Involvement in a Terrorist Attack

Once a terrorist attack results in at least one injury or fatality, the Department of Homeland Security mobilizes leadership, support, and operational components. The leadership components include military advisor, among which is the US Coast Guard that plays a crucial role in protecting offshore areas. Among other parts is a support component that includes the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. This office helps to respond, deter, and prevent terrorist attacks (DeShane et al., 2017). One example of a terrorist attack is an explosives terrorist attack, an incident in which a hostile man deploys improvised portable devices in the crowded area. Thus, the military gets involved in the prevention of terrorism, if there is an injury done on people and infrastructure.

Homeland Security Missions

There are five unambiguous homeland security missions that the Department of Homeland Security has put. The first mission is to secure the country from terrorist attacks (“Department of Homeland Security”, n.d.b). This is a collective effort of communities and families, the private sector, local and state governments, and first responders. The approach encourages people to live with a feeling of readiness rather than a feeling of fear. The second mission is to secure the country’s borders, which includes the Southern border, the Northern border, the sea, and airports. Every year the US government reports on and departs millions of immigrants, some of who are trying to transfer illegal drugs, weapons, and cash. The Department of Defense is involved in this mission. To secure critical infrastructure and cyberspace is the third mission of the Department. The availability to connect via the Internet has increased the risk of cyberattacks that extends into every house throughout the world. The fourth mission is to enhance the sense of readiness. Regardless of the emergency, a natural disaster, or the epidemic, the government’s responsibility is to provide help to the communities. The last mission is to mature and unify the Department by strengthening the relationships between Operational Components and among Headquarters Offices.


To conclude, the command and control in the homeland is an approach that aims to accomplish security missions by using human and physical resources. There are four options of command, and they are used to respond to thread done on the government. For example, if at least one injury is done on people or infrastructure during a terrorist attack, the state command employs components that prevent it. To prevent threads done on the government, the Department of Homeland Security puts five missions, among which securing borders involves the Department of Defense.


Burkett, J. W. (2008). Command and control of military forces in the homeland. Joint Force Quarterly, 51(4), 130-136. Web.

Freed, J. M. (2017). A revised definition of homeland security. Domestic Preparedness. Web.

Department of Homeland Security. Bottom-up reviews (n.d.a). Web.

Department of Homeland Security. Missions (n.d.b). Web.

DeShane, E., Stephens, R., & Decroix, D. (2017). Training laboratory scientists in presenting nuclear forensic data and expert witness testimony. International Atomic Energy Agency, 48(49). Web.

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