Defending Our Home Land A Must-win Game
By Army Sgt1st Class Doug Sample, AFPS

Washington D.C., 2/27/04 (AFPN) - “The mission of homeland security is like playing an away game and a home game,” said Gen. Ralph Eberhart, the U.S. military's homeland defense commander, and head of U.S. Northern Command, Peterson AFB, CO” In war, just as in sports, it is the away game that you want to win, but it is the home game that you must win.”

The general used the analogy to explain his views on how to handle the nation's security challenges in a speech on Feb. 25 at the 2004 Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association Homeland Security Conference here.

General Eberhart, who also heads the North American Aerospace Defense Command co- located at Peterson, said he agrees with the president's policy on pre-emptive measures against attacks. “A good offense is much better than defense here,” he said. “We should concentrate our efforts on deter, defend and defeat.”

Eberhart said deterrence works well against terrorism, just like it did during the Cold War. “I believe we can prevent terrorism, I believe we can defeat it, but if all else fails, we'd better be pretty good at cleaning up after it.”

Throughout the nation's history, the country has been involved mostly in the away game, resulting in the United States focusing equipment, contingency operations and military tactics to wage wars on foreign soil, the Eberhart said. That strategy is the “game we want to play. That's the war we want to wage. We don't want the fans, the citizens in the stands, in proximity to the battle.”

“I'm not here telling you this morning that we need to pull the throttle back on the away game,” he said. “We want to defend as far forward as we possibly can.” However, he also emphasized that “more attention needs to be put on the home game of defending the United States. There needs to be more jointness and interoperability in the efforts of homeland defense and homeland security.”

The relationships among first responders cut across all federal, state, county and local levels. “When we talk about relationships, we redefine jointness and interoperability. … I'm not naive enough to say that in this nation you can buy the same radio and same uniform for all first responders out there,” he said. “But what you can do is make sure that they are compatible — that you can talk to one another, that you train alike, that you use the same lexicon.”

He also stressed the need to share intelligence information among agencies. “We need to change from the need-to-know Cold War mentality to the need-to-share in this global war on terrorism - where we've used all the instruments of national power for both the away game and the home game.”