Ask The Strategic Genius – 5

How to look like you’ve been sitting with your head in the sand for a decade:dhs

DHS Labels Elections As Critical Infrastructure[1]

Sun Tzu says:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Department of Homeland Security’s reason for existence is to defend the US critical infrastructure, including against cyber-attacks. The agency, with its $40.6 billion-dollar budget, is chartered with (as they say)

Three key concepts form the foundation of our national homeland security strategy designed to achieve this vision:

  • Security,
  • Resilience, and
  • Customs and Exchange.

In turn, these key concepts drive broad areas of activity that the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) process defines as homeland security missions. These missions are enterprise-wide, and not limited to the Department of Homeland Security. These missions and their associated goals and objectives tell us in detail what it means to prevent, to protect, to respond, and to recover, as well as to build in security, to ensure resilience, and to facilitate customs and exchange.

DHS was founded following 9/11, with an original operating budget of around $32 billion.* So it’s been nominally in charge of protecting the glass house against stone-throwing for 15 years; it employs over 200,000+ people.

And they just now figured out that elections are critical infrastructure? I wonder what could have brought that to their attention… I can’t wait to see what other brilliant discoveries they make by 2029! Maybe they will determine that water is wet and it’s best to buy low, and sell high.

The real strategic blunder here, of course, is that they announced that they were so stupid.

DHS has a long and vibrant history of announcing the obvious, going back to its founding, when first DHS Secretary Tom Ridge announced that the country was at “threat condition orange” because apparently 9/11 was an indicator that we were under attack. In Sun Tzu’s terms, DHS neither knows the enemy, nor knows itself, nor – apparently – knows what a “battlefield” is and what it looks like.

The strategic genius says: “If you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing, don’t waste your time doing a press release saying ‘I don’t know what the fuck I am doing!’ – the wise general spends that time silently figuring that out.”


[1]Politico: DHS Labels Elections as Critical Infrastructure

(* Going from memory. I researched it much more closely when I was writing my book on DHS)