March 1 marked the observance of the 12th anniversary of the Department of Homeland Security. Emerging just 17 months after the shocking attacks of September 11, 2001, DHS was a department born out of necessity. Establishing what would become the third largest federal agency at a time when the nation was still reeling from the repercussions of the attacks of 9/11, was a massive undertaking and the largest reorganization of the federal government since the Department of Defense was created in 1947.
DHS was formed by consolidating 22 disparate federal entities, in part or in whole, under one umbrella.
S&T was created to provide science and technology in support of the Department’s efforts to safeguard our skies, land borders, ports, coastal waters and critical assets as well as to those at the forefront of homeland security. The Directorate assembled a staff of talented experts from all corners of the country whose skills cut across diverse technical and professional disciplines. Many left top positions in their field for the opportunity to help prevent another attack on U.S. soil.
Early joiners of S&T were hard at work laying the groundwork for the Department and Directorate even before DHS was formally stood up. All worked under challenging conditions as the Department ramped up at an accelerated pace. Concurrent with the logistical challenges of a start-up operation, the S&T workforce was shouldering a huge workload and mission space as they set up programs and projects to address S&T’s early focus on the CBRNE threat -- chemical, biological, radiological/nuclear and explosive threats.
And now, 12 years later, our work at S&T has evolved, matured and moved in new directions in parallel with the rapidly changing threat environment. We’ve learned how critical it is to provide an enduring capability in homeland security that will benefit future generations of Americans. Our Apex programs are tasked with finding near- and long-term solutions that include the rapid and non-intrusive screening of airport passengers; a better-protected, connected and fully aware first responder; and the next generation of cybersecurity infrastructure to protect the nation’s critical cyber assets.
One thing that has not changed over the years is that S&T’s greatest asset is still its talented and dedicated workforce. The nation is far better prepared to protect against and respond to an act of terrorism or a natural disaster than it was 12 years ago. I take pride in the important role that men and women of S&T have played, and continue to play to help make that possible.