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Protect the American People, Critical Infrastructure, and Key Resources

While protecting the lives and livelihoods of the American people demands that we work to prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks in the Homeland, it also requires that we undertake measures to deter the threat of terrorism, mitigate the Nation's vulnerabilities, and minimize the consequences of an attack or disaster should it occur. Our efforts include, among other things, protecting our population from infectious diseases and catastrophic public health threats, as well as reducing the effects and consequences of all hazards through improved systems to notify, alert, and warn the public.

Protection and Risk Management

Despite our best efforts, achieving a complete state of CI/KR protection is not possible in the face of the numerous and varied catastrophic possibilities that could challenge the security of America today. Recognizing that the future is uncertain and that we cannot envision or prepare for every potential threat, we must understand and accept a certain level of risk as a permanent condition. Managing homeland security risk requires a disciplined approach to resource prioritization and the diversification of protective responsibilities across the full spectrum of our Nation's homeland security partners. Applying a risk-based framework to all homeland security efforts will help to ensure our success over the long term and is discussed in detail in the chapter titled "Ensuring Long-Term Success."
Safeguarding the American people also includes the preservation of the Nation's critical infrastructure and key resources (CI/KR). As set forth in the 2006 National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP), critical infrastructure includes the assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, public health or safety, or any combination thereof. Key resources are publicly or privately controlled resources essential to the minimal operations of the economy and government. By protecting CI/KR, we further protect the American people and build a safer, more secure, and more resilient Nation.

Deter the Terrorist Threat

We seek to deter state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist groups, and other non-state actors who support or facilitate terrorism by undertaking various actions to decrease their likelihood of success as well as alter their motivational calculus.

Mitigate Vulnerabilities

Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources

Our Nation has identified 17 sectors of critical infrastructure and key resources, each with cross-cutting physical, cyber, and human elements:

Agriculture and Food
Banking and Finance
Commercial Facilities
Commercial Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste
Defense Industrial Base
Drinking Water and Water Treatment Systems
Emergency Services
Government Facilities
Information Technology
National Monuments and Icons
Postal and Shipping
Public Health and Health Care
Transportation Systems
We will not be able to deter all terrorist threats, and it is impossible to deter or prevent natural catastrophes. We can, however, mitigate the Nation's vulnerability to acts of terrorism, other man-made threats, and natural disasters by ensuring the structural and operational resilience of our critical infrastructure and key resources and by further protecting the American people through medical preparedness.

Minimize Consequences

Despite our best deterrent and mitigation efforts, terrorist attacks and natural disasters will happen, and we must work to minimize the consequences of their occurrence. Several of our efforts to reduce our Nation's vulnerabilities necessarily reduce the consequences of a disaster. This is the mutually reinforcing nature of our integrated efforts to protect the American people, critical infrastructure, and key resources. Moreover, the core of our efforts to minimize consequences lies with our comprehensive approach for responding to and recovering from incidents, which is described in the next chapter.

There are, however, pre-incident steps that we can take that can help to further reduce the effects and consequences of those events that do occur and better protect the American people, particularly through improved notification, alert, and warning systems. We must continue to develop reliable, effective, and flexible national systems to warn Americans of impending threats, including acts of terrorism, natural disasters, acts of war, and other hazards to public security and well-being. Beyond press conferences and warnings through television and radio, these systems must leverage modern and changing technology to push vital information to citizens wherever they are. Pre-incident alerts and warnings should be geographically or functionally targeted and provide guidance and instruction so that governments, the private sector, and individual citizens can take necessary preparatory or protective actions. These messages should continue throughout and immediately after the event, providing situational updates and current directions, as appropriate.

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