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Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Are Not the Same Thing

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Just Security

Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Are Not the Same Thing

by Matthew Wein

Counterterrorism and homeland security are not the same thing. It is not surprising though that the two get intertwined and conflated. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was, after-all, created in the wake of the horrible terrorist attacks on 9/11. The twenty-two agencies that were brought together into what became DHS were, in part, tasked to keep America safe. But the counterterrorism mission begins and is largely fought overseas by the men and women of the U.S. military and intelligence community agencies across Europe and in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. While there is obviously overlap and connections between the two mission spaces, they are decidedly not the same. When they are unnecessarily fused together their missions can become muddled and their intended outcomes can miss the mark.

Inherently Reactive v. Active Preparation

At the most basic level, the operational and mission-related aspects of counterterrorism and homeland security demarcate a barrier between the two. The counterterrorism mission is largely reactive, even in taking preemptive measures. Its aim is to neutralize threats that pose a risk to U.S. interests overseas and in large part these threats or indication of such threats must materialize in order for counterterrroism-focused missions to be ordered.

Read more: https://www.justsecurity.org/62776/counterterrorism-homeland-security/