AMU Homeland Security Opinion

What is Port Security?

By Bob Jaffin
For a number of reasons related to safety and risk, i.e. theft of high value goods and potential risks to the public of dangerous goods incidents or misuse, we have long needed to improve our maritime port security systems and structure.
From a homeland security perspective what is the value of tightly controlling access to the bulk of the contiguous areas that make up our maritime ports? If there are incoming materials sitting on these facilities then we are probably two or three layers of protection too late while we are geographically too close. By the same token it is highly implausible that we need to protect these ports from the outbound smuggling of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
As part of a layered approach and as an extension of the greater risks from a commercial/insurance aspect there is no doubt that ‘port security needs to improve. The larger issue that needs to be addressed is how those homeland security dollars are being spent to upgrade and protect the infrastructure and approaches to our ports. For many major ports taking down a single bridge or blocking a shipping channel represent a much greater risk and therefore might deserve many more dollars.
Bob Jaffin is currently a program manager for the Military Studies and Public Safety degree programs at American Military University.

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