The Blog

Napolitano Says Farewell: 'Key to Our Success Is the Ability to Be Flexible and Agile'

10:08 AM, Aug 27, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is saying farewell today at a Press Club event in Washington, D.C. Today is her last day on the job, before becoming head of the Univeristy of California.

In her speech, she will claim success for the job she did with the federal agency she controlled. "Looking back over the past four and a half years, I can say that if there is one take-away, one object lesson and core operating principle that I’ve learned and embraced as Secretary, it is this: in a world of evolving threats, the key to our success is the ability to be flexible and agile, and adapt to changing circumstances on the ground – whether that is across the globe, or here at home," Napolitano will say, according to her prepared remarks.

At DHS, to be flexible and agile means being forward-looking in our preparations, early and active in our engagement with our partners, nimble in our response, and resilient in our recovery.

It means taking every necessary step to prepare for a range of potential outcomes, and understanding that if things don’t go according to plan, or the unexpected occurs, we are ready and able to shift resources and adjust operations, learn from our mistakes, and put ourselves in a position to succeed in the future.

And being flexible and agile means acknowledging that we may not be able to stop all threats all the time, but we can – and must – be prepared to address them quickly when they happen, minimize their consequences, draw pragmatic lessons, and emerge stronger and better.

These are the most critical elements of our ability to meet our complex mission, and I believe we are seeing that approach bear fruit in a profound, positive way.

The outgoing secretary will also talk about the lessons she learned from the Boston Marathon bombing ("the importance of working closely and actively with partners at the state and local level") and the "expansion of the department’s 'If You See Something, Say Something™,' campaign to more than 250 states, cities, transportation systems, universities, and private sector entities nationwide to encourage the public to play an active role in reporting suspicious activity."

She'll also go over her response to various planned terrorist attacks (the failed Christmas Day plot) and natural disasters (Hurricane Sandy, for instance).

Napolitano urges her successor, whoever that may be, to continue where she's leaving the Department of Homeland Security.

"Some have said that being the Secretary of DHS is the most thankless job in Washington.  That’s not true. No doubt it is a very big and complex job.  It is literally a 24/7 job," she'll say today the Press Club.

"Yet, as my successor will soon learn, it is also one of the most rewarding jobs there is.  What you do here matters to the lives of people all across our great nation, and your decisions affect them in direct, tangible ways.

"You make sure their families are safe from terrorist threats, that their local first responders have equipment and training and funding, and that when disaster strikes, people who have lost everything are given food, shelter, and hope."

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers