****ANSWER QUESTION 250 WORDS MIN****
Discussion Questions: 1) Discuss, in your own words, why critical infrastructure protection, security, and resilience are vital to the U.S. public confidence when considering the Nation’s safety, prosperity, and well-being.
2) Explain the consequences, as well as the impacts, of aging critical infrastructure failures. Be sure to summarize their ramifications for our nation’s citizens.
3) Identify and explain at least two key legislations, acts, and Presidential actions since 9/11, be sure to include one that occurred in the past five years. Do not write about the USA PATRIOT Act or the USA FREEDOM Act.
****REPLY TO EACH POST 100 WORDS MIN EACH****
1. Critical infrastructure protection is a key part in maintaining the publics confidence in the U.S. National Security apparatus for two key reasons. The first is the simple fact that one of the key things U.S. citizens pay taxes for is the protection of the homeland, one of the primary missions of the Department of Defense (DOD), more specifically U.S. Northern Command who maintains that primary mission. While protecting the homeland also includes deterring, and if necessary, defeating foreign threats it also encompasses protecting vital critical infrastructure from threats both domestic and abroad. The second key reason that maintaining the public’s confidence in this effort is important is because that same critical infrastructure that needs to be protected and resilient enables each citizen to carry on with their day to day lives. Whether it is running water, electricity, or interstates, all of these are critical infrastructure that if destroyed or degraded would have far reaching impacts on citizens across the country.
The consequences of aging critical infrastructure have the same impacts on individual citizens as is described above. While there are threats to critical infrastructure that originate from malicious actors, the maintenance of critical infrastructure can be just as serious of a problem. The impact of a decaying roadway, water pipes, or hydroelectric dam is just as serious as that of a terrorist attack on any of these entities. The only difference is that the cause of this is entirely on the United States itself, and blame can not be placed on some external entity.
In the wake of 9/11, there was a series of laws and executive actions put into place to better protect the homeland and address some shortfalls in national security at the time. One of these was Executive Order 13231, put into place on 16 October 2001. Titled, “Critical Infrastructure Protection in the Information Age” this executive order directed the federal government to take appropriate action to identify and address vulnerabilities in information systems that would impact critical infrastructure. This ranged from the digital control switches for power grids, to the air traffic control systems that had become reliant on computers and the internet. Since 2001, the reliance on information systems has increased significantly, which also caused a sharp uptick in cyber vulnerabilities to these systems. This led to the “Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2018” (Public Law Number: 115-278) which amended the homeland security act of 2002 and established the aforementioned agency. This law took elements of the DHS and formally established it as an independent agency whose sole focus is to lead all cybersecurity and critical infrastructure security programs.
2. A critical infrastructure can be described as a virtual or physical asset or system vital to the US that if suffered disability or destruction would have a devastating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any mixture of those elements (NIST, n.d.). This list includes but is not limited to the transportation system, water and wastewater management, energy sources, and national cyber-security. These lifeline functions are vital to every US citizen’s everyday life. We count on the reliability of these systems to function and complete our own personal and business objectives. Protecting, maintaining, and providing uninterrupted service of these systems is vital to public confidence. An example of this can be found in 2017 when the Election Infrastructure became a subsector of the Government Facilities sector supporting a “free and fair” democracy – a foundation of the American way of life (Harrell & Sales, 2019). The partnerships built between the government and the private and public sectors are what maintain public confidence in the US critical infrastructure (Harrell & Sales, 2019).
An aging infrastructure does not only affect one sector of the framework of the American backbone. Each sector feeds off one another. For example, if the transportation sector is disrupted, the price of goods (the agriculture sector) may increase or even experience a slight influence. In turn, this can cause a strain on the US economic structure. In addition, an aging infrastructure has several consequences for US citizens. Not only does it impede our everyday activities, but it can possibly deteriorate, succumb to failure, and affect the health and well-being of us all. A decline in communication between friends and family can cause a decline in mental health of individuals. Without the public’s confidence in the infrastructure, the possibility of civil unrest and economic turmoil may increase. This economic turmoil may lead to higher consumer prices, water usage restrictions, and/or power outages across the nation. With all this uncertainty, the call for leadership and government change increases due to the public’s uncertainty and frustration (Little, 2012; p.7).
On November 5, 2021, congress entered legislation (US Code Chapter 53, Title 49) for the funding of programs for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, this program authorizes close to $108 billion for service transportation programs and other FTA programs. The focus of the legislation entails safety oversight programs, modernization of current infrastructure, addressing “greener” methods of transportation, and increasing the accessibility of transit service for more Americans (FTA, 2023).
In 2018, then President Donald Trump signed into legislation America’s Water Infrastructure Act. This act supports America’s competitive by increasing storage, protection from flood waters, deepening ports of interest, and maintaining the stability of inland waterways. The legislation further calls for an increase in local and stakeholder input while decreasing the “red tape” that has been experienced before (EPW, n.d