Closing the barn door installation force protection – antiterrorism
John L. Cirafici
The United States is at war with an insidious and determined enemy, but not everyone is prepared for the fight. This enemy will avoid conventional battle at all costs, wears no uniform, and is unlikely to negotiate terms at a table. The personal commitment is total, and the only outcome can be victory or death. The enemy is terrorism, although its perpetrators would rather be seen as selfless warriors fighting a just war with their motivations firmly anchored in ideology and faith. Terrorist groups have tasted a series of victories. Since 1983 they have included bombings in Beirut, Naples, Ramstein, Rhein Main, Berlin, Riyadh, and Dhahran as well as a simultaneous attack on two American embassies in East Africa, the USS Cole incident, and the events of September 11, 2001. These successes reveal the challenge.
Through Enemy Eyes To appreciate the terrorist’s perspective, one must step into his mind and view these attacks as he does–as significant engagements between his movement and the world’s most formidable power, the United States. Each victory is a vindication of the struggle and is achieved against incredible odds. In this asymmetrical war, attacks are not random but are part of a strategy to bend an enemy’s will and force submission. Each success validates the cause and demonstrates enemy impotence. Key measures of success are the number of casualties and the breadth of media coverage. Succinctly, in the terrorist’s war anyone can be the target, and the immediate goal is to kill as many as possible.
The Department of Defense is committed to protecting its people and facilities by denying terrorists exploitable vulnerabilities. The intent of the antiterrorism/force protection (AT/FP) program is to reduce the likelihood of attack and to mitigate the effects if one should occur through assessment and substantive feedback to installation commanders.
In response to the Khobar Towers incident in June 1996, when 19 U.S. military were killed and 502 wounded, and the subsequent Downing Report on the attack, changes were enacted within DOD to protect personnel and mission-essential infrastructure. The report concluded that both national security and U.S. forces were increasingly vulnerable to transnational terrorism and addressed adequacy of policy, clarity of responsibility, effectiveness of intelligence, and sufficiency of budget. It also dealt with host nation provision of security, advanced technology, medical care, training, and personnel preparedness.
The Secretary of Defense designated the Chairman as the point of focus for force protection and tasked him to develop a program for the services, combatant commands, and defense agencies. The Chairman turned the task over to a deputy director of operations (combating terrorism) within the Operations Directorate (J-3), Joint Staff. Standards were established and a process was implemented to regularly assess installation programs. The deputy director for combating terrorism (J-34) is responsible for evaluating dangers and seeking countermeasures. To improve protective practices at installations, J-34 acts as a conduit for information to and from the field and disseminates best practices to the customer. The deputy director strives to seize the initiative from the terrorist through technological enhancements and is an advocate for procedural improvements to installation AT/FP practices. The Cole Commission, formed in the wake of the USS Cole attack, issued its report in January 2001. In response, J-34 is further expanding the antiterrorism mission to include policies and practices for deterring, disrupting, and mitigating attack on forces in transit. Joint Staff integrated vulnerability assessment (JSIVA) teams, established in 1997, are the tip of the spear.
JSIVA teams are integral to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s combat support directorate and are located in Alexandria, Virginia. As the field agents for the Chairman’s AT/FP program, they assess the protective posture of installations and supporting facilities worldwide and provide comprehensive feedback, training, and recommendations through the assessment process and mobile training teams. The teams are complemented by a front office, which provides easily accessible expertise to installation commanders and their staffs and technical assistance to the Joint Staff.
The agency fields six JSIVA teams from the antiterrorism assessment division of its combat support directorate. They collectively assess a hundred installations a year throughout the services, defense agencies, and combatant commands. DOD Instruction 2000.16 states that CINCs, services, and agencies shall ensure that lower-level antiterrorism programs receive higher headquarters vulnerability assessments every three years. A JSIVA evaluation fulfills the requirement. Teams try to appraise installations yearly in moderate or high threat environments such as the Balkans and the Middle East.
The services and CINCs nominate facilities for assessment annually. J-34 then schedules a week for each. A team will normally go on the road for two weeks and conduct two appraisals. The chief will deliver an out-briefing to the installation commander and staff and generate a comprehensive report on the findings within 45 days.
Prior to a visit, the installation plan is examined for compliance with DOD Instruction 2000.16, “DOD Antiterrorism Standards.” Previous Joint Staff and AT/FP assessments conducted by service or CINC teams are reviewed for findings and remedial actions taken. The team contacts the installation antiterrorism officer to begin groundwork. The intent of a visit is to provide the commander a comprehensive assessment of his antiterrorism program, recommend improvements, and pass on any of the installation’s practices which might be helpful elsewhere. Each team, manned by six experts in the antiterrorism process, is led by an Army, Air Force, or Navy 0-6. Teams encompass five functional areas: terrorist options, security operations, structural engineering, infrastructure engineering, and operations readiness. Additionally, a member of J-34 often accompanies the basic team. A Defense Intelligence Agency analyst augments the team for overseas assessments. The group is further joined by a service or CINC representative.
Team chiefs contribute not just leadership but expertise. Current chiefs bring military police, engineering, and special operations experience to the table. They interface with an installation’s senior leadership from arrival till the out-briefing. The chief delivers an overview of how a fully functional antiterrorism program should look at both an initial meeting with the commander and during a standard in-briefing with his staff and the installation antiterrorism committee. He describes what the functional area representatives will be assessing and with whom they must interface.
Terrorist options assessment specialists (TOs) are typically experienced Army Special Forces or Navy SEAL noncommissed officers. Their primary duties include review of the facility terrorism threat assessment process, use of the intelligence cycle, and mechanism for timely flow of data both up and down the intelligence conduit. They prepare for a specific assessment by first collecting data from the various services’ counterintelligence and counterterrorism organizations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation if applicable, the Defense Intelligence Agency for overseas sites, and local law enforcement authorities. TOs examine existing intelligence threat assessments to establish the potential for targeting by known groups active in the area. They act as the terrorist on the team, looking at an installation through hostile eyes, and employ a realistic modus operandi based on known terrorist groups and identifiable threats. They build a plan of attack around the vulnerabilities they and their team identify.
JSIVA security operations specialists (SOs) are highly experienced active and retired servicemembers who are drawn from Air Force security forces and Army military police. Each team has two, and they assess physical security, review installation antiterrorism planning, evaluate access control and perimeter deterrence, measure training and antiterrorism awareness, and evaluate personal and executive protection. They further determine if a plan is adequate (if it contains all key components) and executable (sufficiently resourced, detailed, distributed, and exercised). SOs review whether procedures in place provide for a seamless AT/FP defense in depth.
Structural engineers (SEs) are professionals with DOD experience in military construction. Several current engineers have additional background as Army engineers, Navy SEABEEs, and Air Force civil engineers. Working with TOs in an attack scenario, they develop estimates of likely damage from a given explosive device used against specific structures. The estimate considers air blast, fragmentation, debris, and shock produced by a detonation. Major factors are the method of construction and materials used, especially the glass, and the stand-off distance separating a structure from a potential vehicle transported bomb. The type and size of a weapon used to illustrate the threat is determined by the JSIVA team based on the installation’s exploitable vulnerabilities, including access control, antiterrorism measures in place, physical structures being targeted, and antiterrorism awareness of personnel. SEs also assess entry control points and perimeter fencing. They propose actions that will mitigate the casualty-producing effects of a bomb, minimize damage, and increase deterrence.
Infrastructure engineers (IEs) are typically trained civil engineers with a public works background. IEs focus on critical nodes, including the electrical supply and distribution system, water supply and distribution, telecommunications, and fiber optics infrastructure. They assess fire protection and suppression systems and fuel storage and delivery facilities and examines heating, ventilating, and air conditioning to determine vulnerability to airborne contaminants. Further, they assess the availability and operational adequacy of permanent collective/protective sheltering.
Operations readiness specialists (ORs) review an installation’s contingency planning, emergency notification procedures and systems in place, mass casualty plans, emergency operations center capabilities and procedures, and terrorist incident response measures. They focus on incident response and consequence management. They assess first responders and their preparedness, equipment, intra- and intercommunications, and planning. ORs examine installation emergency operations and response measures, especially medical and fire capabilities and hazardous materials as well as procedures for ordnance disposal incidents. ORs review first responder personal protective equipment for applicability, adequacy, currency, and user training.
A Reluctant Reversal
The JSIVA team assessment is driven by the antiterrorism standards DOD established and codified in Instruction 2000.16 in response to the Downing Report. These 31 points are required to implement department policy and are fundamental to a solid antiterrorism program. They are echoed by each department component in its instructions, orders, and regulations and provide clear expectations for an installation. They describe the elements of a viable program, speaking to the AT plan and all its subsets, and to security, training, awareness, incident response, and consequence management. Weapons of mass destruction vulnerabilities and threats are addressed. Every observation made in an assessment report must reference one or more of the DOD standards.
The teams have completed four hundred assessments since their inception. Many installations are undergoing a second. J-34 has taken observations from all assessments to establish trends and determine where emphasis is needed. A sampling of common findings shows where exploitable vulnerabilities are often identified. JSIVA assessors frequently encounter a fundamental inadequacy in installation access control. The problem commonly arises from a dichotomy between a post’s traditional openness to the public and a need for commanders to know who is within their perimeters. Many posts and bases host museums, historical areas, open houses, air shows, and displays to promote public interest. Compounding the problem are traversing public roads, open perimeters, uncontrolled gates, and extensive reservations without security.
Repeated observations of inadequate physical security have led to a reluctant reversal away from openness. The services have moved to mandatory vehicle registration for DOD personnel, retirees, and family members and a requirement that visitors produce positive identification and have legitimate business. Facilities are entering into memoranda of understanding with local law enforcement and governments to permanently reroute traffic or close traversing roads during higher force protection conditions. Gates are being reduced to what a facility can control, and perimeter fencing, barriers, lighting, and other deterring improvements are being installed. The comprehensiveness of JSIVAs and the analysis of findings have been major factors in improving the security climate.
Many shortcomings can be solved procedurally. One is the fundamental deficiency of installation antiterrorism plans. A common problem is lack of detail. Measures that require implementation under time compression are often too vague or not resourced. For example, a measure that requires execution of the barrier plan should include placement diagrams, identification of resources and their location, means to move barriers in place or fill them with water, and points of contact for access to support equipment and personnel. A commander should ask himself if–should an incident occur late Sunday night–the security sergeant or the duty officer can quickly execute the directed measures without having to resolve issues.
In the current climate, JSIVA-noted vulnerabilities have been given priority attention. The overall antiterrorist posture of installations has improved thanks to increased awareness, command emphasis, the assessment process, comprehensive trends analysis, and cross talk with both service and CINC antiterrorism/force protection divisions; yet many areas need enhancement. A key catalyst has been face-to-face interaction between JSIVA teams and installation commanders with their AT/FP teams. The bottom line is that DOD personnel must have reasonable confidence that they and their families are being afforded protection from terrorist attack while they focus on their warfighting mission. It is the goal of JSIVA teams to make that possible.
Colonel John L. Cirafici, USAF, is currently servng with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Department of Defense, and has taught history at the Air Force Academy.
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