mental protection in that it involves vessel inspections
and interviewing the entire spectrum of maritime
stakeholders at 17 ports around the country.
“What we’re doing is looking at the effectiveness of the
Coast Guard in carrying out prevention programs, not just
by itself but with port partners and with industry,” he said.
Abbott said HSI is focusing on some draft DHS doctrine that has resulted from the transition to the new
administration of President Barack Obama.
“This is very high level strategy, and broader,” he said.
“We are looking at how you can get better unity of effort
across law enforcement, across emergency planning and
preparedness response [among] the Coast Guard, FEMA,
[U.S. Northern Command] and others. We are looking at
hurricanes, pandemics and also cyber attacks, so it’s all
over the map. And how do you get this unity of effort?
What do you have to do with information sharing?”
DHS policymakers tapped HSI in 2007 for assistance
with small vessel security issues, and how to protect the
U.S. maritime domain from terrorist attacks involving
small vessels. The effort involved staging the National
Small Vessel Security Summit in 2007, which invited
300 public and private stakeholders from the small vessel community to engage in a range of detailed scenarios and provide feedback.
Capps said the task was a good example of the role
“DHS basically came to us and said ‘we know this is
an issue, but we are not quite sure how to get our arms
around it,’” he said.
The most effective component of the summit was
the presentation of the six attack scenarios in different
U.S. ports that were designed by institute analysts, said
Charles Brownstein, an HSI fellow, who led the small
vessel security effort.
“The thing that worked so well is we put together
exercises and they were pretty interesting, detailed scenarios of attacks,” he said. “We used a lot of information from port assessments and working with local
people in the ports, captains of the ports and so forth,
and they are absolutely first-class exercises.
“What was different here was that civilians suddenly
got to engage in red team exercises. They started trading
thoughts about how you do all of this. They were engaged. And once you get people engaged about a hard
problem like this, it becomes easier to talk about all the
complex things that need to be done from procedures to
research and development.
“The government wanted to get this across and wanted
more — it wanted to have a healthy discussion about it so
it could affect policy and planning and programs,” he said.
HSI’s “Report of the DHS National Small Vessel
Security Summit” ultimately informed the DHS Small
Vessel Security Strategy, issued in April 2008.
U.S. COAST GUARD
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen addresses
the DHS Small Vessel Security Summit in Arlington, Va.,
in June 2007.
The strategy addressed the risk of small vessels being
used to smuggle terrorists or weapons of mass destruction into the United States, as a standoff weapon or as a
means of direct attack. The strategy’s overarching goals
aimed to develop and leverage strong partnerships in
the small vessel community, leverage technology to
enhance the ability to detect vessels, and improve cooperation among public and private stakeholders.
An ongoing HSI approach involves its “Forward
Analysts” program, which entails embedding HSI analysts within DHS in order to provide support and “
reach-back access” to the institute’s broader capabilities.
“Embedding is done to acquire institutional knowledge and also to convey what agency personnel can
learn from colleagues back at HSI that may benefit the
agency,” Abbott said.
“We’ve had people embedded in different organizations, and we know other agencies and can connect the
dots across the agency,” he said. “As we learn about
other organizations across DHS, the nice thing is we
are like corporate memory for DHS. DHS should be
able to leverage that.”
The obligation falls on DHS to utilize and implement
the reports and recommendations that are provided by
HSI. In the traditional sense of government checks and
balances, Congress is entitled to press the agency on
what it plans to do with the recommendations it receives
and, in that sense, HSI’s role is to provide the most constructive — and objective — information to DHS.
“We have an obligation as an FFRDC that is different
from a for-profit company,” Abbott said. “Our job is to
work very constructively with the client, but not necessarily to tell them what they want to hear, but tell them
what they need to hear — the ground truth.” ■
SEAPOWER / MAY 2009