Lessons from DoD’s Joint Experiences for DHS Unity of Effort
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Unity of Effort is implementing solutions to better integrate the DHS components’ efforts to address the diversity of security challenges facing the nation. For example, the DHS Southern Border and Approaches Campaign created a joint task force across DHS components involved in enforcement solutions.
The Department of Defense (DoD) captures Unity of Effort within “Joint” doctrine, which the DoD has developed over several decades. As DHS continues to mature its processes and integrate requirements, it can learn lessons from DoD:
- Centralized Planning. Decentralized Execution – DoD Joint operations use decentralized execution of centralized, overarching plans. Commanders provide guidance and empower subordinates to achieve synergy of operations and the exercise of disciplined initiatives. During disaster response efforts, teams need autonomy to make decisions and initiate actions but must do so within the boundaries of comprehensive plans, Standard Operating Procedures, and senior-level guidance
- Boards, Bureaus, Centers, Cells, Working Groups (B2C2WGs), and Operational Planning Teams (OPT) – The DoD uses extensive staff integration to support ongoing planning, monitoring, and assessment of Joint operations. Similarly, inter-component teams at DHS can leverage unique resources, skills, and knowledge of the various components to effectively develop, execute, and track operational plans. Careful selection of personnel that can participate in joint groups not only helps agencies coordinate but also develops key leadership skills of DHS’ workforce
- Battle Rhythm. Joint Headquarters staffs develop, manage, and enforce the recurring schedule of activities (battle rhythm) of the major working groups and planning teams that support the commander’s decision cycle. This includes reviewing, analyzing, and prioritizing information as it progresses through the staff and is ready for the commander’s decision. For major DHS operations, quickly implementing a battle rhythm within the headquarters of an operation and leveraging the cross-functional expertise of supporting groups and teams provides senior leaders with greater support when making decisions that increase operational success
While DHS’ rich history and variety of missions is very different than DoD’s, these practices provide models for how DHS can integrate efforts. DHS’ wide variety of stakeholders makes collaborative working groups and planning teams even more important as a key tool for mission success.