The Department of Homeland Security turns 16 on Nov. 25. The young agency was created in 2002 to fight a new kind of war following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. To create a unified agency, all or part of 22 different agencies such as FEMA, Border Patrol, Coast Guard, and Secret Service were merged into one department.
The youngest cabinet department has a vital mission – to prevent future attacks and protect the American people from the many threats our country faces. DHS’s first secretary, Tom Ridge, captured its considerable role best when he said, "We have to be right a billion-plus times a year, meaning we have to make literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of decisions every year, or every day, and the terrorists only have to be right once."
The men and women of DHS show up for work every day to make sure all of us are safe. Our union is proud to represent these employees and help them serve the American people better.
Here are 5 things you might not know about DHS:
1. DHS has just established a new agency to fight cyber threats
Every year, the United States faces massive cybersecurity threats from foreign governments, terrorists, and individuals targeting our government, military, and businesses. Congress this fall passed a law creating the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within DHS to address these threats. The law reorganized DHS’ National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) into CISA to reflect what NPPD actually does.
2. DHS provides security at the Super Bowl
Super Bowl Sunday is considered an unofficial holiday in the United States. The last Super Bowl in Minneapolis drew more than 1 million people to the city’s 10-day festival and attracted more than 100 million viewers. Because major events are potential targets for terrorism, President Bill Clinton in 1998 established National Special Security Event procedures that set out the security roles for federal agencies at these events, including the Super Bowl. Even though the president isn’t at the events, the Secret Service is still in charge of NSSE security. The FBI is responsible for intelligence and investigation. FEMA is responsible for post-disaster recovery management.
3. When DHS was created, not everyone was impressed by its name.
Hardly any American used the word “homeland” before the 9/11 attacks. Some writers urged people to nominate names to replace Homeland Security. They came up with:
Department of Domestic Security, Department of Domestic Defense ("3-D"), Continental Security, Mainland Defense, Mainland Security, Home Defense, Federal Security, Heartland Defense, Department of American Protection, Homefront Security, Interior Security, Civil Security, Civilian Security, Heartland Security, and Department of Security.
The name, however, was never changed.
4. DHS is the third largest Cabinet department
DHS has more than 240,000 employees, making it the third largest Cabinet department after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
5. The Coast Guard is the largest agency within DHS
The Coast Guard has a total workforce of over 87,000: 40,992 men and women on active duty, 7,000 reservists, 31,000 auxiliarists, and 8,577 full-time civilian employees.