Hawaii has two distinguishing features that make it an appealing target for terrorist attacks:
- The complex of military bases as well as military personnel, who account for over one percent of the island’s population
- The island’s tourism, a multi-billion dollar industry that accounts for about one quarter of the state’s Gross State Product
Homeland security officials working at the federal, state, and local levels within the state are responsible for ensuring such an attack does not happen. They work together and in collaboration with other agencies and organizations to ensure the best-possible protection and preemptive measures are taken.
Preparing for the Future
Homeland security careers in Hawaii begin with the right education. Requirements vary due to the diversity of positions in this field, although a homeland security degree or other educational background in combination with professional certification is necessary.
A variety of public and private institutions offer training in acceptable fields in a range of intensities. Because of the many positions in the field, appropriate homeland security degrees in Hawaii also have a wide variance, ranging from the following:
- Criminal Justice
- Human Services
- Homeland Security – Leadership and Policy
- Justice Studies
- Law Enforcement
Hawaii’s Homeland Security Vulnerabilities
Federal, state, and city officials have recently been meeting to discuss implementing security upgrades around the heart of Waikiki in what has been identified as part of the state’s critical infrastructure. With potentially upwards of 5,000 people a day staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Hotel Village complex at the center of the island’s tourism industry, a terrorist attack would wreak havoc on the city of Honolulu’s and state’s economy. Those with homeland security jobs in Hawaii and other officials pointed out the worst case scenario- a terrorist strike of the same ilk as that which happened in the 2008 Mumbai attack, when terrorist armed with explosives and machine guns invaded a central hotel from the sea, killing 166 and injuring over 300.
A group of terrorists recently stormed a Hawaiian research facility, stole a quantity of highly radioactive material, and went into hiding threatening to scatter the substance across the island in a dirty bomb to be detonated somewhere in Honolulu if their demands were not met. This is one of the potential scenario government and law enforcement officials rehearsed during a recent training exercise. This came in response to a Government Accountability Office report that identified hospitals and research facilities in Hawaii as being relatively easy targets for someone wanting to get their hands on radioactive material. The exercise helped Aloha State law enforcement and government agencies integrate their homeland security training in Hawaii and prepare for worst-case scenarios in order to better serve the citizens of the state.