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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 March 2008, 16:07 GMT
Brown security plan has US precedent
Caitlin Bauer
BBC Parliament's US intern

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has unveiled new plans to tackle emerging threats such as climate change, extreme weather, energy security, and cyber-terrorism.

Security at Westminster
The prime minister announced the plans to the Commons on Wednesday
Grandly entitled a 'National Security Strategy', the plans would launch a National Security Forum (NSF), which would advise a National Security Committee.

The NSF would consist of experts, both private citizens and government, in the areas of business, academics, community organisations, military, and security.

The plans are reminiscent of the US National Security Council, a body of advisors in the President's office.

But unlike the prime minister's proposed National Security Form, the NSC consists solely of government officials, including the President; Vice-President; Secretaries of State, Defence, and Treasury; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and the Director of National Intelligence.

The NSC focuses on matters of United States national security as well as its foreign policy from a more traditional security perspective.

A multitude of agencies deal with preparations for response to such situations in the US; the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) steps in following a natural disaster; the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) manages international threats including cyber-terrorism; and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) is responsible for formulating responses to a pandemic.

Civilian participation

The prime minister also announced the launch of a 'civilian force', which would be available to travel quickly to failing states to assist in reconstruction and attaining stability.

Such a group would include law enforcement officials and emergency service professionals who would be able to quickly assist in stabilization projects.

Again, this is reminiscent of a US government agency: the Peace Corps, established by President Kennedy in 1961.

The purpose of the Peace Corps is to encourage citizens to actively participate in improving quality of life in developing states, and increase cross-cultural understanding.

But a division of the Peace Corps known as the Peace Corps Response can also be deployed on short-term assignments to areas embroiled in major crises.

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