National Security – Airport Security Breaches – Breached 25,000 times since 2001

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25,000 Security Breaches since 2001

Analysis by Lt. Col. Oz Hill (U.S. Army, ret.)

A recent article in The Daily Caller states: “U.S. airports have suffered more than 25,000 security breaches in the past 10 years under the watch of the Transportation Security Administration, a House subcommittee on national security reported. At a hearing this week, lawmakers reported thousands of breaches and slammed the TSA for what members saw as a litany of security lapses at airports across the country. According to numbers provided to the committee by the TSA, more than 14,000 people accessed sensitive areas of airports and around 6,000 passengers and pieces of luggage were able to make it past security checkpoints without proper screening. A Government Accountability Office report found that only 17 percent of U.S. airports have received joint vulnerability assessments.”

Security Analysis

Commercial aviation is an essential component of the U.S. economy, as well as a key commerce enabler of the global economic community. It links the economies of industrialized and developing nations around the world. Commercial aviation also makes it possible for businesses to effectively respond to time-sensitive supply chain demands by optimizing the resources of suppliers around the globe. Simply put, commercial aviation’s influence is pervasive in every aspect of the nation’s economic framework and prominently influences the quality of life for most Americans.

Enhancing Security

Enhancing the security of commercial aviation passenger screening is a complex challenge that requires a sophisticated, multi-faceted approach. Passenger screening at commercial aviation security checkpoints is a critical component in protecting airports and aircraft from terrorist threats. In my opinion, the approach to develop a viable security system that is dynamic and resilient must incorporate three areas of emphasis:

  • Human capital: The human capital facet of the approach should focus on the recruitment, selection, training, professional development and advancement of TSA personnel. An investment must be made to attract and retain the very best candidates to serve as Transportation Security officers.
  • Collaboration: Defeating a global terrorism threat will require collaboration among the international intelligence community, international law enforcement agencies, public sector institutions at every echelon of government, and the private sector.
  • Public support: It is imperative the approach place specific emphasis on educating the American citizenry on the criticality of rigorous and thorough passenger security screening techniques to ensure their collective well-being. Ensuring that clearly understood security best practices are employed in a system that is proactive, responsive and resilient is often juxtaposed to the civil liberties many take for granted.

Commercial aviation security, specifically passenger screening, will not be effectively enhanced or optimized as long as security best practices are not fully implemented as a result of politicized decision-making by polarized legislative bodies.

Some priorities/upgraded security procedures necessary to ensure a resilient system are in conflict with the will of some outspoken opponents of procedures which are often perceived to be too invasive and a violation of civil rights. Nonetheless, the very first step in addressing the TSA’s operational challenges is for Congress to move forward with the President’s nomination to lead the TSA, and provide the agency with the leadership required to address these challenges.

About Oz: Lt. Col. Oz Hill (U.S. Army, ret.) currently serves as Senior Manager/Principal of a Firestorm Franchise specializing in professional consulting services for a broad range of security and program management projects.

During a 20-plus year military career, Oz learned the necessity and value of preparedness.  He has extensive experience in security management, emergency preparedness and response, and continuity of operations planning.

Mr. Hill is a graduate of Shaw University, where he acquired a Bachelors degree in Management, and later acquired his Masters of Public Administration degree from Auburn University.  

Mr. Hill has worked extensively at every echelon of the governmental and private sectors. Over the course of a 20-year career in the U.S. Army, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

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