Critical Thinking in Homeland Security

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9 October 2015

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Critical Thinking in Homeland Security


            Homeland Security is an essential part of the security organs that are very crucial in ensuring the protection of the country’s sovereignty. Just as other nations in the world, United States faces significant threats from the external and internal factors. The US established Homeland Security Department in 2003, in an effort to address the external threats and aggression like the September 11 terrorist attacks (Pruitt, 2003, “The 9/11 Commission,” 2005). Therefore, the main objective of the department is to prevent terrorist attacks in the US. Additionally, the department has to minimize the exposure of the nation to terrorism and minimizing the injuries that results from the attacks, if attacks occur.

            To achieve its mandate the department applies several skills. These skills are aimed at determining the likelihood of a threat and establishing the credibility of the threat as per the information provided. Among the skills used is the critical thinking. By definition, critical thinking refers to the ability by the department personnel to make clear, rational judgments (Paul & Elder, 2009). This means that the decisions regarding security should be arrived through a well thought out processes (Pruitt, 2003). Critical thinking under homeland security focuses on crucial elements of thought and asking the relevant questions. This means that the department has to evaluate every piece of evidence at their disposal in order to develop appropriate security solutions to the country. The discussion put forward below will aim at establishing what critical thinking method model is appropriate for the decision-making within the structures of homeland security (“The 9/11 Commission,” 2005). The reason behind this inquiry is highly dependent on the fact that there are different critical thinking models. These models are very useful in the since they help to find the best and effective solution in homeland parameter. However, different models offer different results.


            The September 11 attack brought about unprecedented need for good, efficient and effective security apparatus. With the introduction of the Homeland Security Department, the country was placed at a position to deal with the terrorism threats. The terrorism activities are currently very dynamic and in return there is a need for the solutions that might meet these challenges (Pruitt, 2003). As a consequence, the homeland security personnel is require to meet the ever rising need for increased demand of the security services as well as meeting the high placed accountability standards. To achieve these requirements they have to learn to become highly skilled in their level of thinking, as well as reasoning abilities.

            The fundamental reason for the need to improve skills is that the employees have to analyze all the massive information, understand it, identify the problems and offer solution (Paul & Elder, 2009). However, the processing of this massive information comes against the race of time. Homeland security department has to make timely decision that would help to preempt any threats that may arise or control the already existing threats (Pruitt, 2003). Additionally, the strategies employed by the terrorist are changing day in day out, and as well these changes must be encompassed in the decision which the department is undertaking. For instance, before the September 11 attack, the defense apparatus restricted themselves to biological and chemical threats. Moreover, the use of airplane as a tool to carry out terrorism strikes was covered by defense agencies like the Pentagon (“The 9/11 Commission,” 2005). On the other hand, the threat of airplane strike was not addressed as the security agencies believed this would result to giving the terrorist an additional tool to their disposal.

            The example about the use of airplane as a tool of terrorism indicates an ineffective manner of using the available information to mitigate the terrorist attacks. In this regard, critical thinking is very essential in manner in which the homeland security handles the information they acquire to handle security issues or threats (Paul & Elder, 2009). This is mainly because critical thinking offers the prediction and diagnosis analysis for security issues. Prediction depends chiefly on the ability of the security organs to be able to think ahead. Thinking ahead, as part of critical thinking, dictates that the security organs are able to establish the likely causes of terrorism and probable outcomes (Kiltz, 2009). Diagnosis means the analysis of previous threats which in turn helps to extrapolate the likely future events. In this regard, security organs are able to identify their past failures and in turn making amendments. Additionally, the organs are able to replicate past successes to the future.

Best Critical Thinking Model

            While understanding the importance of the critical thinking skills, there are several critical thinking models at the disposal of security organs to address any homeland security issues. It is very crucial to put a lot of emphasis on the fact that critical thinking is basic requirement for security decisions facing the country (Paul & Elder, 2009). Therefore, to identify the best critical thinking model it would be prudent to learn the two factors that will play a very major role in determining the best model. Critical thinking in the context of homeland security is fundamentally dependent on the most important factor for good decision-making and the nature of the homeland security context (Browne & Keeley, 2007).

1. Decision making

            Critical thinking is fundamentally aimed at arriving at appropriate decision. Every decision made or arrived at should be able to offer solution in the context of homeland security. In this light, the decision of the security apparatus should be able to effectively prevent the threats that arise as well as minimize the damages is events occur (Kiltz, 2009). Thus, critical thinking plays a pivotal role in decision-making process. On the same note, the best decision-making model is exceedingly reliant on the right questions.

            The right question are said to be the main factor that enable effective decisions to be made in all the fields of the society, security being inclusive (Kiltz, 2009). Questions are a good guiding factor while looking for the appropriate results. One, right questions create a structure that our thinking relies upon; that is to say, right questions are essential in finding the suitable materials or information that are essential to the decision or solutions. Secondly, right questions play a vital role of determining the course of our thinking. In this regard, the right questions are crucial element of individual thinking (Kiltz, 2009). This indicates that the right questions part of the homeland security parameters, in that they would help the decision makers in this context will arrive the best solutions possible to the various security challenges.

2. The nature of homeland security

            The processes and the activities surrounding decision making in the parameters or the context of the homeland security are substantially complex. The complexity comes in two levels: one, there amount of data or information being processed is extremely large and second, there are a lot of dynamics and variables in homeland security decisions (Paul & Elder, 2009).

            Therefore, the decision-making process has a higher requirement of exhaustive scrutiny of all the probable accompanying implications of any decision made. In addition, the scrutiny extends other available options prior or before the enforcing any decision passed. A good example relates to diversion tactics that are highly employed by terrorist (Davis, 2012). This is where a threat is identified in a particular location while in reality the actual threat is in another place. Without appropriate critical thinking capabilities, the security apparatus are expected to put enough emphasis on areas which are reported to have the threat while leaving the other places vulnerable.

            Understanding the nature of homeland security is pegged on homeland security operations and the past failure. Past failures help to understand what part of the process failed and how efficiently and effectively did homeland rise from their falls. For instance from the example above, if the severity of a homeland security event was increased by the misjudgment stated above, in future homeland security would put all efforts at protecting all places equally while still putting emphasis on any information gathered (Paul & Elder, 2009). That fact encompasses a crucial part of the critical thinking in such a security decision-making process.In effect, the most effective critical thinking model should be all-inclusive. Inclusivity means that all the available alternatives should be taken into account while simultaneously evaluating the possible outcomes associated with each likely action. The module applied is similar to a game theory model (Davis, 2012). In such a model, the homeland security is supposed to establish every strategy available to them as well as those available to the opponents, the terrorists. This would help to preempt most if not all, of the threats posed by various terrorists groups. Therefore, every strategy has probable action, which in turn will deliver results. It would be the aim of homeland to select the most applicable strategy and take an action that would offer the best-expected outcome (Paul & Elder, 2009).

            For example, through information and intelligence gathering, the security organs in the United States had all the necessary, adequate and relevant information to indicate that an attack was eminent. This information was prior to the September 11 attack, which detailed the Al Qaeda plans to attack the US. This shows that the security organs had the available strategies of the opponents. However, the organs failed to select the best strategy and their actions failed to meet the required results (“The 9/11 Commission,” 2005).

            The time constraints also play a critical part in undertaking any security decision. The reason behind this is that despite the large volumes of information that need to processed, the uncertainty of when a homeland security event is likely to occur needs timely decision-making. Using the September 11 example, it can be observed that the security organs failed to meet the timely decision requirement (Kiltz, 2009). Although all the information processed indicated the likelihood of a terrorism incident in United States, no timely action was taken to preempt the threats due to the argument that the decision process was at its preliminary stage.Additionally, homeland security should be in a position to predict the opponents’ likely cause of action and also putting a lot of effort towards preventing the threats preempting the homeland actions. This is attached to diversion tactics, where the threats mature to events in places other than those indicated in the threats information. This was the strategy that was employed by the Al Qaeda to beat homeland security at their game in September 11 (“The 9/11 Commission,” 2005). Prior to the attack, the information gathered indicated that the threats were highly in United States departments and agencies that were beyond borders. The fact that overseas parts of homeland security were threatened, the homeland skewed its efforts towards the external offices and agencies. Consequently, the Al Qaeda anticipated the moves of homeland security, and they counteracted by attacking the internal departments (“The 9/11 Commission,” 2005). Critical thinking should help to homeland security to fill all the available loopholes that may expose their operations, and the country was vast.

3. Right Questions Model

            As stated earlier, there are several models at the disposal of the homeland security, but among them asking the right questions takes the reign. There are several factors that have heavily tilted the odds towards the right questions model of critical thinking (Browne & Keeley, 2007). First, the model plays a pivotal role in addressing the various loopholes found under the nature of homeland security. For instance the failures that were capitalized by the Al Qaeda in the September 11 attack (“The 9/11 Commission,” 2005). The right questions model aims at querying all the information available. The inquisitive nature of the model allows the various security issues to be determined as well as determining the necessary conclusions. The conclusions are highly dependent on the reasoning, assumptions, and clarity of words.There are numerous benefits that accompany this essential model of right questions. To begin with the model is highly useful in offering a well detailed analysis of the decision made as well as the cause of actions undertaken. When comparing this model with the other models such as the elements of thought thinking model, right questions model outranks them all in enabling homeland to meet its objectives or targets (Browne & Keeley, 2007). Furthermore, it is established that the model has other models easily inbuilt. Mainly, homeland security establishes the positive elements of the other models and encompasses them in the right questions model. As a consequence, the models offer comprehensive and well-contained solutions out of all the available alternatives.

            In addition, the said model is highly interactive as it offers an all rounded analysis of the various situations. The analysis is crucial in timely and effective decision-making as well as in actualization of the actions set. Additionally, the model allows homeland to identify the instances of fallacies in reasoning (“The 9/11 Commission,” 2005). Well thought out decision should not be guided by a belief, myth of misconceptions. This allows homeland security process of verification and validation of evidence to be thorough and unbiased. If some essential information is missed, the model would results to different alternatives. Right questions model bases its success on availability of possible alternatives. Therefore, the model puts a lot emphasis on the available information which helps decision makers to arrive at the best possible alternative. On the other hand, the other models have some constraints in their operations (Browne & Keeley, 2007). For instance, the Element of Thought thinking model success is highly dependent on the emphasis given to some four aspects of decision-making.

Using the Model

            Several failures have been seen under the dome of homeland security. These failures are highly attributed as the indirect contributors of past events like the September 11 attacks. The right questions model can easily address these past challenges (Browne & Keeley, 2007). Moreover, the model is the key to providing support to the homeland security decision-making process as well as creating and enhancing the credibility of the actions undertaken by homeland security.

            The right questions model is dependent on an extensive spectral analysis. This analysis is the foundation of critical thinking. As a consequence, the right questions model helps to evaluate all the possible alternatives and their accompanying actions; which aim at getting the best possible solution. The model has been extensively used under the homeland security context to eradicate and lessen threats like the September 11 attacks. For example, prior to September 11 attacks the United States intelligence had gathered that there were several threats directed towards the United States institutions outside the country (“The 9/11 Commission,” 2005). Lack of a wider spectral analysis, the homeland security failed in its job (Browne & Keeley, 2007). In dependence to the information, the homeland security strengthened the security agencies beyond borders and failed to do so with the domestic agencies. As a consequence, the Al Qaeda used this loophole to carry out the attacks in the US soil (The 9/11 Commission, 2005). Under right questions model, an in-depth analysis would have taken place prompting homeland security to reinforce all the security agencies across the board. Such analysis would have enabled homeland security to alleviate the September 11 attacks. The alleviation would have been achieved through the fact that the homeland security would have easily identify and eliminated all the security exposures that faced the United states at large without overemphasis on the overseas institutions (Browne & Keeley, 2007). The fallacies of logic resulted to this misguided conclusions. While combating the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, there was a belief that the US turf was safe from the Al Qaeda actions. This resulted to homeland security ignoring the domestic security need for dealing with terrorism.

            Additionally, there were not efforts to fill the information gaps that were there before the attacks. There were poor statistics since there were limited activities that were undertaken by security agencies in the United States (“The 9/11 Commission,” 2005). The model selected put emphasis on identifying the missing information which in turns increases the chances of obtaining the best strategy and the appropriate cause of action to be employed. For instance, the evidence provided that an attack was imminent, but there were no prompt actions that were undertaken to mitigate these threats. Also, despite the availability of evidence that indicated that there were terrorist threats facing the US, no security actions were undertaken in time (Browne & Keeley, 2007). The claims behind the lack of actions were that the decision process was still at preliminary stages, indicating the rigidity of the security operations. The selected model offers flexible and dynamic solutions to challenges. Through the right questions model, appropriate decisions would have been arrive at early enough to mitigate the threats.


            Critical thinking is crucial for the undertakings of the homeland security department. This is because there are significant complexities of the decisions and accompanying actions. The critical thinking models are several, but one outranks the others; the right questions model is very essential in establishing the right decisions and cause of actions. The model employs a wider spectral analysis strategy with an aim of achieving efficient, effective and timely solutions. Looking at the applicability of the model against the events of September 11 attacks the model would achieve better-desired results (“The 9/11 Commission,” 2005).


Browne, M., & Keeley, S. (2007). Asking the right questions. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Davis, V. (2012). Use Critical Thinking to Overcome Personal Biases. IN Homeland Security. Retrieved 22 January 2015, from

Kiltz, L. (2009). Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Homeland Security and Emergency Management Courses. Journal Of Homeland Security And Emergency Management, 6(1), 1-20. Retrieved from

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2009). The miniature guide to critical thinking. Dillon Beach, Calif.: Foundation for Critical Thinking.

Pruitt, K. (2003). Modeling Homeland Security: A Value Focused Thinking Approach (1st ed., pp. 1-236). Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio: Department of the Air Force, Air University. Retrieved from

The 9/11 Commission,. (2005). The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (1st ed., pp. 1-400). Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from

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"Critical Thinking in Homeland Security" StudyScroll, Oct 9, 2015.

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