The DHS Office of Policy co-sponsored the 10th Anniversary Homeland Security and Defense Education Summit, held at George Mason University’s Arlington campus on March 23-24. The event capped a year-long effort by DHS Policy to engage the academic community in the Department’s strategy review process.
The Summit brought members of the academic community together with DHS staff responsible for drafting the 2018 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, the Department’s capstone strategy due to Congress later this year.
Susan Monarez, who is leading the review process, said, “Bringing a diverse group of external stakeholders together for this event gives us confidence that we have engaged with the research community in a way that challenges us and ensures that we have not overlooked important issues affecting the Nation’s security,” she told attendees.
The opportunity to participate in and contribute to the Department’s strategy review process drew over 260 scholars and policy practitioners to the Summit – its highest ever attendance.
Retired Coast Guard Admiral and former Commandant Thad Allen opened the proceedings with a keynote speech on homeland security strategy, highlighting the need for government and private sector partners to clarify authorities, roles, and responsibilities in anticipation of increasingly complex crises. His address was followed by a second keynote, delivered by retired U.S. Army General Keith Alexander, former director of the National Security Agency and former Commander of CYBERCOM, who highlighted effects of technological change on the current strategic environment.
DHS staff from across the Department joined breakout sessions in the afternoon on both days of the Summit, sitting in on research panels and commenting on work presented by scholars. Panel topics included terrorism and transnational crime, border security, and infrastructure protection, among others.
Participants engaging with national security professionals across both the public and private sectors gleaned new perspective on the applications of research, rather than what Jim Ramsay of the University of New Hampshire described as “research for research sake.”
The second day of the conference opened with a presentation by members of the DHS Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Council on the impact of emerging technologies on homeland security.
Attendees later welcomed special guest Norm Augustine, former Acting Secretary of the Army, CEO of Lockheed Martin, and Commissioner on the Hart-Rudman Commission.
The DHS Office of Policy was a first time co-sponsor of the Summit, partnering with the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) in Monterrey, California.
In his closing remarks, Glen Woodbury, Director of CHDS, said that the Office of Policy had elevated the event by bringing DHS strategy and policy staff together with members of the academic research community. Many participants from DHS and academia voiced hopes that the exchange of ideas at the Summit would lead to more collaboration between government and the homeland security research community in the future.