Critical Book Review: “Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection” by Pamela Collins and Ryan Baggett Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Dec 28th, 2019

Book Summary

Authored by Pamela Collins and Ryan Baggett, the book Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection investigates the existing gaps in security systems, the various protection plans, and the projected viable options of ensuring that critical infrastructure of the US is safe and free from any hazard.

In the introductory chapters, precise arguments are made on the background of the US’ department of homeland security with an in-depth analysis of the process of evolution of the US’ security infrastructure.

This goal is accomplished through reviewing primary presidential directions in the effort to enhance security and/or maintain intelligence of the security apparatus, legislation, and methodologies of the safety of infrastructural assessment.

The second batch of chapters investigates social infrastructural sectors that have been identified as central to the enhancement of security of the United States. These sectors comprise the critical and essential infrastructure for driving economic and political prosperity of the United States.

Some of the discussed infrastructural elements include “banking, agriculture, telecommunication, finance, food, and even transportation” (Collins & Baggett, 2009). With a particular focus on the department of homeland security, the authors argue that the main objective or the noble mandate of homeland security is to ensure that infrastructure is free from any act of terrorism.

In this second batch of chapters, the authors also discuss the various methodologies of protection of the cited essential infrastructure.

Some of these methods include deployment of standard systems for enhancing security, maintenance of buffer zones, enhancing of intelligence, fostering information-sharing, partnership between public and the private sector, and putting of mechanisms of continued planning (Collins & Baggett, 2009).

Additionally, in this section of the book, the authors dwell and/or dig deep into the most dangerous and serious security problems that face particular infrastructural components. They also conduct an in-depth analysis of the current procedures of protecting such infrastructural elements. Finally, they offer their recommendation on the ways through which the infrastructure can be protected to guarantee the future security.

In the third section, the authors discuss the principal pillars that make the homeland security. These are recovery, prevention, preparedness, and response. This discussion is made even more relevant upon the discussion of the concepts of hazards and the mechanism of hazard prevention.

According to the authors, security hazards involve all situations or conditions that may put the security of citizens of the United States at risk (Collins & Baggett, 2009).

Thus, prevention measures constitute all activities that are deployed to ensure that the risk of attack does not occur. However, in the event of the occurrence, an appropriate response mechanism is required to restore normalcy in the shortest time possible. Another essential pillar discussed by the authors in details is hazard preparedness.

According to the authors, an effective disaster preparedness program needs to have cyclic ways of planning, organizing, equipping, evaluation training, and testing of disaster preparedness apparatus of the state (Collins & Baggett, 2009). The recovery pillar is based on the need to make decisions for the provision of immediate and urgent help to the affected persons and infrastructure in the event of occurrence of a security hazard.

The effort ensures that all the destroyed infrastructural elements are brought back to normal operation in the event of occurrence of an attack that seeps through the security agents and security intelligence systems. The book then sums up by providing a list of acronyms.

Strength and Weaknesses of the Book

Every scholarly work has its strength and weaknesses. In the realm of the strength of the book, Collins and Baggett provide incredible explanation of the background and historical roots of critical security infrastructure that requires protection together with the designated areas, which may be termed as the essential infrastructure that requires constant surveillance to keep the economy of the United States from being heralded by terrorists.

The book has a significant strength since it provides a comprehensive package for the military and other security agents of the US to develop an adequate understanding and assessment of the various threats that may face critical infrastructure, thus driving the financial, social, and political institutions of the US.

The book brings into details the infrastructure that may be viewed by people as secure and immune to terrorist attacks. This description helps to provide a thorough understanding of the capabilities of terrorists to make life impossible for the Americans.

For instance, the authors argue that water systems, electrical systems, and other installations, which support everyday life of the American citizens are some the most fragile infrastructural elements, which terrorists can capitalize on destroying to create suffering among the US citizens.

Unfortunately, people would only consider security threat an act that only comprises attacks such as the September 11 attacks. In this regard, the book offers an expanded view of critical infrastructure that requires protection.

Collins and Baggett define critical infrastructure as “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets will have a debilitating impact on the security, national economic security, national health or safety, or any combination of those matters” (Collins & Baggett, 2009, p.65).

Borrowing from this definition, the authors are able to classify security threats into several categories. These categories can briefly be grouped into three main classes: physical, human, and cyber risks.

Conclusively, the book provides an in-depth analysis of all security threats that lie within the first two categories together with how the US department of homeland security has been responding to them. In case of the group of infrastructure that may be considered physical, the authors provide a comprehensive coverage of the various security issues and challenges affecting the efforts to ensure that such infrastructural elements are secure.

Physical infrastructure here refers to both tangible (products, components, animals, real estates, and facilities) and interminable properties. Through this discussion, a significant weakness of the book emerges since the authors do not give substantial evidence based on the ways of protecting the physical infrastructure considering that more than 85 percent of physical infrastructure is not owned by federal states.

Although the authors point out that protection of physical infrastructure may be enhanced by cooperation between the private sector and the government through the department of homeland security, the roles that the owners of the larger portion of physical infrastructure should play to enhance their security is not given magnificent attention.

Discussion of the roles of technology in enhancing security surveillance is a significant strength of the book.

While the authors explore valid ways in which technology through IT is deployed to increase security intelligence and information sharing within the department of homeland security is crucial, a weakness is introduced since there is no comprehensive discussion of the knowledge bases of the terrorists on the usage of information technology to enhance their terrorist activities.

The world is operating in an environment that is dominated by immense challenges of cyber threats. War against nations is shifting from being conducted on physical battlefields to the global network protocols through acts of cybercrimes such as offensive hacking.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Pamela Collins and Ryan Baggett’s book Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection offers important explanations of the efforts and achievements of the US department of homeland security in ensuring that all US citizens remain free from acts of terrorist attacks. They offer a discussion of various infrastructural components that are considered critical and hence requiring adequate protection.

Amid this discussion, some weaknesses of the book have been identified in the paper. It is recommended that the authors consider integrating a detailed analysis of cybercrimes, their impacts on the security and infrastructural systems of the US, and/or how such crimes can be positively identified and/or responded before attacks are successfully implemented.

This recommendation is made in recognition of the fact that, amid technological developments of the United States, enemies are also well educated and constantly looking for loopholes for attacking the US information systems to destruct the capacity of the department of the homeland security to prevent, develop preparedness, and respond to emergency including terrorist attacks.

Opinion

The security of a nation is one of the most important functions of a government. For people who wish to know and gain insights into how national infrastructure can be protected cannot run away from reading Pamela Collins and Ryan Baggett’s text Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection.

The book is also valuable to the department of homeland security. It identifies possible areas for improvement to enhance protection of critical infrastructural installations in the US as a primary mandate of the department of the US homeland security.

Reference

Collins, P., & Baggett, R. (2009). Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection. Westport: Praeger Security International.




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