U.S. Coast Guard [USCG-2001-11137]
Maritime Security AGENCY:

January 28, 2002

The purpose of this commentary is to offer suggestions in regard to United States and international community interests to protect maritime shipping, passengers, crew and to some extent maritime infrastructures from terrorist threats or activities. It is recognized that security of marine infrastructures of sovereign states are concerns of their own. However, marine infrastructure security has peculiar international implications. For example, a sinking of a large tanker or ship in the Bosphorous Straits, or Malacca Straits may have implication beyond the strait itself. Similarly the security of a container out-load port in one country may affect the destination port of the cargo in another country.

To make meaningful contributions to the discussions of maritime security, it is necessary to address the possible threats; i.e. perform a threat analysis. It is conceivable that the USCG has already performed a confidential threat analysis, not available to the general public. Lacking the information regarding the potential threat, we can simply state the potential threats (without giving ideas to the terrorists), and ideas as to how to counter such threats.

Until 9/11, the United States had always enjoyed a presumed protection of two oceans and two countries - Mexico and Canada - from any destructive activities from wars. This has been the case except for the Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December of 1941. September 11 changed all that. Suddenly, the more than 10,000 miles of United States shore line that the USCG is responsible for protecting looms larger than ever. Protecting the vast shorelines, including maritime shipping, passengers, crew, cargo, ports and infrastructures along the shorelines, are nearly an impossible task, in view of the Coast Guard's manpower level and budget.

The freedom of the economic system, and life style based on a free society is the fundamental underpinning and reason for the fabulous economic growth of the United States, year after year. Yet this very "free" society also facilitates the ease with which the terrorist can operate from the United States soil. Most security measures, probably all security measures to a certain extent, will impede this economic freedom. How much this impedance in the economic freedom will hinder the prosperity of the United States is unknown. But this much is certain that business "as usual" is no longer acceptable and the business climate, specifically the international transportation side of the business has changed forever after 9/11. Now, it is politically and strategically acceptable that something must be done to protect ourselves. This "something" will invariably add restrictions of flow of goods and people across the UNITED STATES, it may even include surveillance and inspection of all means of containments of cargo from their origin to the their destination.

How much restriction (of goods and people) the United States economy will tolerate depends on the tolerance and willingness of the public to accept higher prices of goods and services. A trip to any department store will convince anyone that the United States is fast becoming dependent on foreign manufacturing for most consumer goods. Is the United States incapable of manufacturing consumer goods like those originating in a foreign country? - Of course not. But the cost of these consumer goods would be prohibitive or we simply would do without them. Can the United States isolate itself from economic transactions with foreign countries? - Theoretically it is possible, but in reality not very likely. Can the United States isolate itself from the rest of the world, and forgo the super-power status amid fast track globalization that is now taking place? - Again the probability of that happening is zero to nil.

So it goes - In this cold real world there is always a bottom line to everything. How intrusive should the Unites States be of foreign goods and people? How restrictive should the United State be in the interchange of commerce with other nations? How prohibitive should the Unites States be in its protocol for acceptance of rules and regulations of other sovereign nations? All these are a matter of intense debate and a matter of economics as well i.e. bottom line.

The terrorists achieve their objectives because of total surprise. The methods of nineteen men with box cutters are no different. The antithesis of total surprise is intelligence. The most important deterrence to terrorism is intelligence gathering. It is not suggested that the USCG go into the detective business or espionage business or worse. Surely, some other federal

organizations are better positioned to do the sleuthing stuff. What is suggested here is that the USCG

be on the same wave length as other relevant law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, port authorities, etc. Using the Incident Command System methodology to set up a command to coordinate the appropriate agencies in the anti-terrorist intelligence gathering field should be accomplished. This would facilitate the timely sharing of information to thwart terrorist actions.

A matrix is attached showing the inter-relationship with various presumed threats, hypothetical location of threat occurrence, origin of threat activity or means of delivery, possible consequences, possible preventive actions, system implications, hardware implications and hardware availability. This is a preliminary attempt to connect the threats and the countering of threats; it is hoped the USCG will expand the matrix to include information that this commentator does not possess.

Mo Husain
Randell B. Sharpe
MH Systems, Inc.
P.O. Box 825
Del Mar, California 92014

Attachment: Threat and Defenses - Maritime Infrastructure

Your further inquiries are invited. Write to:

Copyright 2009 MH Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. | Terms of Use | Last Modified 11/17/02