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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The nation’s vast air, land, and maritime transportation systems are marvels of innovation and productivity, but they are designed to be accessible, and their very function is to concentrate passenger and freight flows in ways that can create many vulnerabilities for terrorists to exploit. Prospects for defending against each of these vulnerabilities through traditional means, such as “guards, guns, and gates,” are dim. The transportation sector is simply too large and the threats faced too diverse and ever-changing for such blanket approaches to work. Moreover, if applied in the large and diffuse transportation sector, these approaches run the risk of creating a diluted and patchwork collection of poorly connected defenses that disperse security resources while leaving many vulnerabilities unprotected against a terrorist attack. Transportation security can best be achieved through coherent security systems that are well integrated with transportation operations and are deliberately designed to deter terrorists even as they selectively guard against and prepare for terrorist attacks. In particular, layered security systems, characterized by an interleaved and concentric set of security features, have the greatest potential to deter and protect. Layered systems cannot be breached by the defeat of a single security feature—such as a gate or guard—as each layer provides backup for the others, so that impermeability of individual layers is not required. Moreover, the interleaved layers can confound the would-be terrorist. Calculating the odds of breaching a multitiered system of defense is far more difficult than calculating the odds of defeating a single, perimeter protection. When integrated well with transportation services and functions that confer other benefits, such as enhanced safety and service quality, layered systems are even more likely to be deployed and sustained over time. Multi-use systems—for instance, systems that benefit transportation operators and users
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative by monitoring the condition of infrastructure and location of vehicles, baggage, and cargoes—are apt to be maintained and continually adapted to the changing transportation environment. A combination of public leadership and private incentives is therefore essential to the deployment of such dynamic, built-in security systems. The dangers of not taking such a systematic approach to security were manifest in the aviation sector on September 11. Commercial aviation has been the subject of hostile attacks for many years. Each new attack has prompted the advent of new technologies, procedures, and rules, yielding an assortment of measures each intended to address a discrete threat in a particular way. Whether to find bombs in suitcases or to interdict hijackers carrying handguns, each has been deployed with a single security objective in mind. By defeating one such perimeter defense—passenger screeners intended to intercept handguns—the September 11 attackers were able to defeat the entire security regime. And after the attacks, federal policymakers, seeking to secure commercial aviation and regain public confidence in air travel, did not have a well-designed security system in place that could be assessed methodically to identify gaps that needed to be filled. To be sure, reshaping transportation security approaches to create layered systems of deterrence and protection will not be easy. Security planners will need to question many existing security rules, methods, technologies, and institutional relationships. And they will need the support of sound research and evaluation, as well as the cooperation and collaboration of the many public, private, and foreign entities that will have to implement the systems. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Congress created the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).1 TSA was assigned a set of aviation security responsibilities with strict deadlines—from the federalizing of all airport security screeners to the deployment of air marshals on airliners and the installation of explosive detection systems at all commercial airports. Previously, civil aviation security was overseen and regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, 1 Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-71).
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative but operational and financial responsibilities were shared among the private airlines and the airports owned by state and local governments. Security for other modes of land and maritime transportation was, and remains largely today, the responsibility of state and local law enforcement authorities, the many public and private entities that own and operate transportation infrastructure and assets, and various federal agencies responsible for port and border security. In creating TSA, Congress added a new dimension to the federal role by giving the agency explicit responsibility for security in all modes of transportation and for the development of policies, strategies, and plans for addressing transportation security threats. Still in its formative stage, TSA presents an unprecedented opportunity to build security into the nation’s transportation sector in a more systematic fashion. Indeed, Congress has chartered TSA to take on such a strategic role. Compelled by statute to act quickly in enhancing civil aviation security, TSA is now beginning to examine the security needs of all transportation modes and to define its own role in meeting those needs. The following counsel is offered to TSA as it moves forward in fulfilling this vital strategic responsibility. A STRATEGIC RESEARCH AND PLANNING ROLE FOR TSA TSA should establish a strategic research and planning office—attuned to, but distinct from, the agency’s operational and enforcement responsibilities—that will work closely with DOT, the modal agencies, other federal agencies, state and local governments, and other elements of the public and private sectors on security system research, planning, and deployment. Having a strong analytic capability to undertake systems planning and risk assessment, this recommended office could Devise and evaluate promising security system concepts in collaboration with public- and private-sector owners, operators, and users, and through the application of operations research and human factors expertise;
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative Ensure that gaps do not exist in security planning and preparation because of the narrow purview of modal agencies and transportation operators and users; Encourage the explicit inclusion of security objectives in transportation planning processes and in the design of vehicles, facilities, and operating systems; Advise metropolitan governments and transportation agencies on the need to develop integrated regional emergency response plans, and advise local and state transportation agencies, public transit authorities, and related entities on how to reshape their administrative structures so as to give security prominence in their planning and decision making; Explore ways in which security features can be encouraged, and market-related and institutional barriers to the deployment of security measures can be overcome; Work with other countries and international standards-setting bodies to exchange information about international shipments, coordinate security measures and overall system strategies, and collaborate in research and development (R&D) activities; and Develop a critical research agenda in support of transportation security systems. To be effective and trusted, TSA must be more than just a regulatory and enforcement arm of DOT; it must find ways to share needed expertise and information and to work constructively with those entities–from modal agencies to public- and private-sector transportation system operators–entrusted with fielding security solutions. A strategic research and planning office within TSA, unencumbered by rulemaking, enforcement, and operational responsibilities, could offer these needed services. AN R&D ROLE THAT BUILDS CONNECTIONS AND EXTENDS BEYOND TRANSPORTATION TSA should collaborate with the public and private sectors to build a strong foundation of research on human factors and transportation opera-
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative tions, and to make the evaluation of security system concepts a centralelement of its collaborative research program. TSA should establish an in-house research capacity to undertake such concept evaluations and to support its own large security operations and technology acquisition programs. At the same time, the agency should adopt a broader, architect-like role in promoting and marshaling R&D to advance these security systems, especially by tapping into the security-related R&D of other government agencies, the broader transportation community, universities, research institutions, and the private sector. In support of security systems analysis and planning, as well as its operational and technology acquisition programs, TSA must have both its own research capacity and the ability to work with and draw on expertise from within and outside the broader transportation community. Within DOT, the individual modal agencies and the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center offer important resources for systems-level research and technology development. By viewing the R&D activities of the modal agencies, as well as those of state and local transportation agencies, in such a comprehensive way, TSA can determine where targeted additional R&D investments have the potential to yield large benefits, and can orchestrate means of encouraging such investments. In so doing, TSA can better leverage the transportation sector’s R&D investments to ensure that they have strong security relevance. One area in which TSA can play an important role is in ensuring that the nation’s human factors expertise is integrated into all aspects of transportation security planning, research, technology development, and operations. Much of this and other needed research and technology development capacity will be available outside the transportation community, in the nation’s universities and research institutions, with support from much larger R&D sponsors, such as the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation. By making the needs and parameters of transportation security systems more widely known, TSA can help identify and shape research and technology development activities that are outside the transportation realm, but have potential transportation security applications.
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative A TECHNOLOGY GUIDANCE AND EVALUATION CAPACITY TSA should create a technology guidance, evaluation, and clearinghouse capacity to provide developers with performance goals for their products, and to advise transportation system operators on security-related technologies that are available or under development. At the moment, there is a great deal of interest within the public and private sectors in developing and employing technologies for transportation security. As a result, the potential exists for much effort to be expended on the development of technologies that are not well suited to transportation settings or that are incompatible with security systems. Thus, as it proceeds in identifying appropriate security systems for each transportation mode, TSA should be prepared to offer guidance to commercial developers on the technological capabilities that are most appropriate. By articulating these performance needs and parameters, TSA can provide technology developers with a clearer target for their R&D efforts. By implementing this recommendation, TSA can also give transportation system owners and operators a better sense of which technologies and processes will work, and where opportunities may exist to collaborate with researchers and developers to advance promising technologies and concepts. NEED FOR UNCONVENTIONAL THINKING ON THREATS AND RESPONSES What was demonstrated on September 11 is that transportation systems and assets can be misused by terrorists in ways that can be difficult to anticipate and overlooked in day-to-day efforts to ensure transportation security. The advent of TSA should be helpful in increasing the attention paid to security within the transportation community, but perhaps not in overcoming the bias of viewing transportation assets and operations within functional domains— and securing them as such. Given the size, scope, and ubiquity of the transportation sector, coupled with its myriad owners, operators, and users, many
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Deterrence, Protection, and Preparation: The New Transportation Security Imperative opportunities exist for terrorists to exploit components of transportation systems in novel ways unanticipated by those traditionally responsible for transportation security. By and large, transportation systems are regulated at the mode-specific level, and the entities that own and use them are organized for the efficient provision of specific services. Yet terrorists are actively seeking to exploit new threat vectors that lie beyond such conventional perceptions of order. Terrorists may not view individual transportation assets, infrastructure, and services in such self-contained and functionally oriented ways, but rather as components and tools of other systems—much as jet airliners and mailed letters were used as weapon delivery systems. A broader-based understanding of terrorist threats that involve transportation and its intersection with other domains is clearly needed if the transportation community is to do its job in keeping its systems from being exploited again to such tragic effect. Recognizing that such an analytical need exists more generally, the report of the National Academies on Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism2 urges the creation of a Homeland Security Institute—an entity outside normal organizational settings whose sole mission would be to explore and systematically assess terrorist threats, probable responses and reactions, and ensuing consequences. 2 The executive summary of Making the Nation Safer is reprinted in the appendix to the present report.
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