The idea for this research paper came to me last fall when I was taking a course in Homeland Security Policy. As a member of the United States Coast Guard, and therefore in the Department of Homeland Security, I was incredibly interested in the ways 9/11 has shaped not only my service, but the way the nation approaches national security. Dr. Judy Youngman, who is serving as a mentor for me in my research now, taught my class. In this class we talked extensively about critical infrastructure, how it is decaying, and how we should seek to protect it and improve it. As we know, America faces the threat of terrorist attacks in the future and restoring critical infrastructure could hopefully mitigate the damage we could incur from not only attacks but natural disasters as well. From what I learned in my class, this seemed like a monumental issue that America was facing, but it appears to stay largely out of the political spotlight. I wanted to study this issue more in-depth and take into account the economic implications that would surely follow a repair of the vast amount of failing critical infrastructure that is present in the United States today.
I think I will have a hard time narrowing my research, as this issue of decaying critical infrastructure is so vast. In order to circumvent this challenge, I will be developing risk-based criteria to determine which area of critical infrastructure is the most pertinent to national security and most likely to be fixed considering the current fiscal constraints our government is facing. By focusing on one area, be it cyber, transportation, maritime domain, or power, I will have a more specific strategy that I will be able to propose in my conclusion.
The reason I am so excited about my research is because I hope to show the congress and the president how important, and how possible, it is to fix the critical infrastructure. If this becomes a top policy priority, and I am able to recommend a strategy that both enhances the security, and helps the economy, then we can greatly increase our national security. As someone who will be protecting the maritime domain and our nation’s coast for at least the next 5 years of my life, I would like to know that the government is doing what is necessary to ensure that we are as prepared as possible to face the growing national security challenges in the world today.