Security Basics by Terry Doyle

August 3rd, 2011

Though earliest man would not have articulated his security issues as such, or even thought even close to the conceptual manner we do in the 21st century, security has always been the human’s foremost concern.

Nations that can supply the fundamental pieces of security –- food, clothing, and shelter — to their citizens are most unlikely to go to war, to threaten the SECURITY of other nations. In the United States we take much of our security for granted (though 9/11 certainly put a healthy dent in that!) For many of us, the basics of food, clothing, and shelter, are a given. For only a small percentage of our 300+ million is this an hourly/daily concern. Not true for a larger percentage of the planet’s 6 billion +; security (food, clothing, shelter, and freedom from fear) is a daily concern, much like it was 10,000 years ago.

Consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

I have always though in more simple terms, but it’s nice to see Maslow’s entire concept from 1943.

It is healthy and balanced to keep our current U.S. security concerns in perspective with the globe. The United States through its history has been relatively secure from the more common worldly security issues (invasion, famine, earthquakes, floods, etc) because of simple geography (two oceans and two benign neighbors; not near the Ring of Fire) and a bit of good luck.

The mid 20th century changed all that with the advent of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver those weapons inter-continentally. Now in the 21st century we have asymmetric threats from VEOs (violent extremist organizations in Pentagon parlance) who will use all possible means to attack us. Plus, there is now the distinct and real possibility of cyber attack which could paralyze the nation’s financial markets, electrical grid, etc.

How do we defend against this? How do we classify these threats? What level of effort is justified to guarantee security? How does one balance personal liberty/concerns with the overall security of the nation? It is ten years since 9/11; most of the “perturbations” and “anomalies” are out of the way; we have even adjusted to being groped at the airport.

One lesson is that societies adjust to security issues. Ten thousand years ago the tribe moved when the water dried up, or a volcano sprouted on the back 40. In our current day, we add letters to our passwords to prevent having our Gmail hacked. We as Americans continue to adjust, as we always have.

Terrence Doyle

A native of New Jersey, Terrence M. Doyle is a 1977 graduate of The College of the Holy Cross and a 1997 graduate of the Naval War College. During his 26-year naval career, he accumulated over 5000 flight hours while completing nine deployments on both coasts, served as an instructor at both the Naval Air Training Command and the Naval War College, labored on CNO’s Pentagon staff, and commanded HS-8 aboard USS Nimitz (CVN-68). Since retirement in August 2003, he has worked as a senior military analyst for several national security firms in northern Virginia. He is currently working Maritime Domain Awareness issues for the US Navy as part of our Nation’s security, protection, and defense.

Image of the author at the marker of Private William Henry Christman, 67th PA Volunteers, at Arlington National Cemetery; the very first official burial – May 13, 1864.

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