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Report of U.S.-Russian Working Group on Transportation Vulnerabilities

Mortimer L. Downey, Nikolay A. Makhutov, Robert E. Gallamore, Konstantin V. Frolov, Kelly Robbins

On January 27-28, 2005, a group of U.S. and Russian experts met at the National Academies in Washington, D.C., to discuss a wide range of issues connected with the vulnerabilities of the transport system to terrorist threats. Working group participants and guest speakers discussed technical, legal, social, and economic aspects of the problem and visited the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority headquarters and Maryland State Highway Administration control center to gain practical insights from personnel in the field.

The working group concluded that responses to terrorist attacks must be based on robust capabilities to respond to natural and technogenic disasters that should already be in place at the local and national levels. Efforts to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks do not require the establishment of separate systems but should be integrated into and complement existing emergency response capabilities.

TYPES OF TERRORISM ACTIVITIES CONSIDERED: THREATS, VULNERABILITIES, AND SCENARIOS

The Russian and U.S. participants identified the great risks and vulnerabilities inherent in many transportation systems in the urban environment. The same factors that make for an effective transportation system also create significant vulnerabilities. The participants also identified the importance of effective risk assessment and prioritization in addressing these threats, as well as threats posed by cyberattacks or attacks on the energy system that supports transport.



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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop Report of U.S.-Russian Working Group on Transportation Vulnerabilities Mortimer L. Downey, Nikolay A. Makhutov, Robert E. Gallamore, Konstantin V. Frolov, Kelly Robbins On January 27-28, 2005, a group of U.S. and Russian experts met at the National Academies in Washington, D.C., to discuss a wide range of issues connected with the vulnerabilities of the transport system to terrorist threats. Working group participants and guest speakers discussed technical, legal, social, and economic aspects of the problem and visited the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority headquarters and Maryland State Highway Administration control center to gain practical insights from personnel in the field. The working group concluded that responses to terrorist attacks must be based on robust capabilities to respond to natural and technogenic disasters that should already be in place at the local and national levels. Efforts to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks do not require the establishment of separate systems but should be integrated into and complement existing emergency response capabilities. TYPES OF TERRORISM ACTIVITIES CONSIDERED: THREATS, VULNERABILITIES, AND SCENARIOS The Russian and U.S. participants identified the great risks and vulnerabilities inherent in many transportation systems in the urban environment. The same factors that make for an effective transportation system also create significant vulnerabilities. The participants also identified the importance of effective risk assessment and prioritization in addressing these threats, as well as threats posed by cyberattacks or attacks on the energy system that supports transport.

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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop Urban transport (buses, subways, commuter rail, water transport, automobiles, and trucks)—In order to be functional open systems with free access, a substantial risk is incurred, since these systems have such a high concentration of users. Motor vehicles are an even greater risk, since their flexibility of movement allows them to serve as effective weapons delivery systems. Railroads—The wide extent of rail facilities, their open and unprotected nature, and their use in transporting hazardous materials that are essential to urban life, such as the chlorine used for water purification, also makes them an attractive target. Urban ports—Container movements are the key to low-cost movement of concentrations of goods in international trade, but containers are equally effective carriers of weapons of mass destruction. Similar concerns exist about energy transportation facilities, particularly the handling of liquefied natural gas. Terrorist attacks in the transport environment can take a number of forms, further complicating the task of prevention and response. Among the forms are vehicles used as weapons to deliver explosives or other materials against a target attacks on a transport vehicle and its passengers attacks on transportation facilities, such as railway or bus stations, where large numbers of passengers may congregate attacks on transportation infrastructure, such as bridges, railbeds, or signal systems; these attacks could include cyberattacks on transportation control systems OVERVIEW OF GOVERNMENT EFFORTS While there is much to be done, governments are taking steps to develop a response to the risk of terrorism, using a variety of methods, including the application of technology, such as investments in security systems—systemwide improvements to track and protect the movements of goods and people technology development—new technologies to detect and, where possible, protect against explosives, chemicals, and other weapons in the urban setting regulatory measures—new rules for the movement of hazardous materials, handling of containers, information flows about movements, and so forth improved response capability—steps to train, equip, and improve the capabilities of first responders, transportation system employees, and the public as a means of mitigating the impact of terrorist actions

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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop PRIORITIES FOR THE ACADEMIES The transportation systems vulnerabilities working group identified several priorities for the U.S. National Academies and the Russian Academy of Sciences, including systems research, basic research, technology development, consequence management, and social science research. Greater attention to the overall effectiveness of transportation systems and terrorism countermeasures with particular reference to improvements that can provide both economic and security benefits is a priority for the academies. Encouraging basic research that can provide new tools to identify and interdict weapons is also a priority. Technology development includes the utilization of research findings to develop new technology that is workable in field deployment. This process must be based on fundamental interdisciplinary research, leading to applied research, and finally to the development of specific systems and devices. Consequence management encourages research into such issues as postattack cleanup and standards for exposure to various agents. It is necessary to reach consensus on standards and means of monitoring for adequate and acceptable levels of exposure and cleanup. The potential use of chemical substances as terrorist weapons represents a major paradigm shift, increasing their dangers and altering the existing understanding of allowable dose levels and consequences of exposure, and this shift requires a fundamental reconsideration of these issues. Social science research recognizes the difficulties in total prevention of terrorist incidents in the current environment. Research attention is needed to better understand the causes of terrorist actions and the ways in which basic drivers of terrorism can be displaced. PAST AND CURRENT ACTIVITIES OF THE U.S. NATIONAL ACADEMIES The U.S. National Academies Transportation Research Board (TRB) has a Standing Committee on Critical Transportation Infrastructure Protection. TRB also administers extensive cooperative research programs that support research on a range of relevant issues, including development of training courses and manuals for first responders and transport system personnel for use both in their strategic planning efforts and in deployment of their operational resources. AREAS OF COMMON INTEREST There are many areas of common interest for the U.S. National Academies and the Russian Academy of Sciences, particularly in the social science field and in applying interdisciplinary thinking to the response to and resolution of terrorist acts. Both academies recognize the need for a greater focus in research activ-

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Countering Urban Terrorism in Russia and the United States: Proceedings of a Workshop ities and coordination of work undertaken in government, scientific institutions, and industry. Security considerations should become a key factor in the design of infrastructure and systems (including tunnels, underground parking structures, and elevated rail systems, as well as the transport system elements mentioned above), and should incorporate continual review of the implications of new systems and improvements as they are put in place. Taking the next steps in interacademy cooperation will be facilitated by continuation of periodic information exchange cooperation in research joint expert analysis in order to provide independent opinions regarding major, promising projects for the development of transport systems OBSERVATIONS Priorities for continued bilateral cooperation include encouragement of research priorities as noted above sharing of intelligence with local and regional agencies (local agencies and transport systems personnel need access at some level to information about potential threats) development of independent research institutes and red teams to evaluate strategies and responses development of standards, methodologies, and data sources for risk assessment studies at a level of investment related to the amount of potential damage and the relationship of the funding of studies to the economic consequences of terrorist incidents; more study is required to establish the level of expenditure that would be appropriate (possibly in the neighborhood of 1 percent of project cost) and to identify potential sources of funding for these costs more financial support for equipment, training, and other needs of first responders, transportation system employees, and the public