Articles Strategic Thinking

Preempting The Growing Prospect of Terrorist Infiltration Over America’s Land Borders

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

By: Todd Bensman

“Despite a genuine recognition of the importance of exercising constant unilateral and multilateral vigilance … corruption, weak government institutions, insufficient interagency cooperation, weak or non-existent legislation, and a lack of resources remained the primary causes for the lack of significant progress on countering terrorism in some countries in the Western Hemisphere.” — 2014 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Terrorism: Western Hemisphere Overview

This document proposes implementation of a strategy whereby U.S. homeland security leaders might effectively target complex human smuggling networks at several identified points of vulnerability, to disrupt and deter high-risk migrants before they reach the U.S. The strategy involves a mixture of robust targeted diplomacy in conjunction with sharp, dedicated increases in certain kinds of foreign security aid and assistance to several countries of Latin America. It incorporates theories tying the strategy to the ubiquitous human will to acquire and preserve political power.


Because of the 9/11 attacks, national legislation required America’s homeland security agencies to dismantle transnational human smuggling organizations capable of transporting terrorist travelers to all U.S. borders. Federal homeland security agencies responded with programs targeting extreme-distance human smuggling networks that transport “Special Interest Aliens (SIAs)” to the country’s land borders. SIAs are regarded as higher-risk immigrants, are labeled as such, and must undergo additional security screening if they are citizens of some 35 “countries of interest” in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia where U.S.-designated terrorist organizations operate.


Caring for the Caretakers; Addressing the Mental Health Issues of First Responders during a Disaster

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

By: Tammy Chamblee & Randy Foster


In the Southern part of the United States, tornadoes and spring go hand in hand. Tornadoes are one of those natural disasters that the people of Mississippi have learned to respect through the years. Despite this, the events of April 28, 2014 presented new challenges for MS as 23 tornadoes tore through the state with a vengeance.[1]

Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst disasters to ever occur in the United States.[2] While the state of MS responds to multiple events every year, Hurricane Katrina set the standard for many current day planning and response efforts. The Hurricane Katrina After Action Report (AAR) for Emergency Support Function-8 (ESF-8) noted that first responder mental health needs should be a priority.[3] Since then, many efforts have been made to improve upon this specific issue to include an active working relationship between the MS State Department of Health (MSDH) and the MS Department of Mental Health (MDMH). Other efforts include Disaster First Aid training, First Responder Safety and Health planning, and implementation of Mobile Crisis Units that are utilized during emergency events.[4]

While MS has taken these lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina to heart, the unprecedented tornado disaster of April 2014 showed exactly how vital and currently relevant these historic lessons still are.   It also demonstrated areas that require further improvement. MS learned many lessons that will make an impact on healthcare and mental health for healthcare workers and first responders in future responses to disasters.[5] Our hope is that the lessons learned in MS can be useful to other States and emergency response and recovery planners all over the world.


A Strategy For Augmenting Veterans’ Social Support During Reintegration

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

By: Catherine Bernstein

Fostering veterans’ social support, a crucial component of resilience, can vitally assist the military’s efforts to mitigate the negative effects of critical stress.   Research supports exploring techniques for cultivating teams amongst troops returning from deployment, and dedicating resources to developing a social medium for their continued interaction.

Literature addressing military, responder, and civilian exposure to critical stress universally catalogues the availability of positive social support, for facilitating recovery from trauma.[1] Social connectedness is an essential factor among the models for early critical stress intervention, such as psychological first aid and peer-support, and studies of critical incident stress also link social support with resilience.[2] The enhancement of social support is recognized as a primary factor to promoting resiliency that may serve to protect against or assist the recovery from traumatic events.[3]