Combating Terrorism: Actions Needed to Improve Force Protection for DOD Deployments through Domestic Seaports

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A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The October 12, 2000, attack against the Navy destroyer U.S.S. Cole in the port of Aden illustrated the danger of unconventional threats to U.S. ships in seaports. The September 11, 2001, attacks further heightened the need for a significant change in conventional antiterrorist thinking, particularly regarding threats to the U.S. homeland. The new security paradigm assumes that all U.S. forces, be they abroad or at home, are vulnerable to attack, and that even those infrastructures traditionally considered of little interest to terrorists, such as commercial seaports ... continued below

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United States. General Accounting Office. October 22, 2002.

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Description

A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The October 12, 2000, attack against the Navy destroyer U.S.S. Cole in the port of Aden illustrated the danger of unconventional threats to U.S. ships in seaports. The September 11, 2001, attacks further heightened the need for a significant change in conventional antiterrorist thinking, particularly regarding threats to the U.S. homeland. The new security paradigm assumes that all U.S. forces, be they abroad or at home, are vulnerable to attack, and that even those infrastructures traditionally considered of little interest to terrorists, such as commercial seaports in the continental United States, are now commonly recognized as highly vulnerable to potential terrorist attack. Of the more than 300 seaports in the United States, the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Transportation have designated 17 as "strategic," because in the event of a large-scale military deployment, DOD would need to transport more than 95 percent of all equipment and supplies needed for military operations by sea. If the strategic ports were attacked, not only could massive civilian casualties be sustained, but DOD could also lose precious cargo and time and be forced to rely heavily on its overburdened airlift capabilities. The security environment at strategic seaports remains uncertain because comprehensive assessments of threats, vulnerabilities, and critical port infrastructure and functions have not been completed, and no effective mechanism exists to coordinate and disseminate threat information at the seaports. GAO identified two significant weaknesses in DOD's force protection process for deployments through domestic seaports. First, DOD lacks a central authority responsible for overseeing force protection measures of DOD organizations that move forces from domestic installations through U.S. seaports. Second, during some phases of a deployment, DOD transfers custody of its military equipment to non-DOD entities, including foreign-owned ships crewed by non-U.S. citizens."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • October 22, 2002

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. General Accounting Office. Combating Terrorism: Actions Needed to Improve Force Protection for DOD Deployments through Domestic Seaports, report, October 22, 2002; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc293632/: accessed May 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.