Stubbs leads effort to bring whole-of-government
approach to maritime domain awareness
As the Department of Defense (DoD) Executive Agent for Maritime
Domain Awareness (MDA), retired Coast Guard Capt. Bruce B.
Stubbs and his office are responsible for coordinating MDA plans,
programs, capabilities and policies to synchronize its implementation
across the DoD. Stubbs said there has been tremendous progress in
integrating the Navy and Coast Guard into MDA operations. The
office was created in 2008.
His biggest challenge remains getting people to understand MDA
from a whole-of-government approach. Stubbs added that the
national maritime security dangers now considered “emerging
threats” are not new threats at all, but, rather, new ways of misusing
Prior to being named director, Stubbs served as the maritime security adviser to the Special Envoy for Middle East Regional Security and
was a member of the secretary of the Navy’s advisory board on
naval and maritime matters. Stubbs discussed his outlook for MDA
and the obstacles he faces with Assistant Editor John C. Marcario.
How would you rate the nation’s competence
in MDA compared with a decade ago?
STUBBS: In terms of the Department of Defense, it’s obviously better. … As far as the DoD is concerned, we
can talk about various technologies here. We’ve got better capabilities to identify and track ships. We’ve got
better ways of linking data, doing fusion and analysis.
We have better coordinating mechanisms [among government agencies].
As I watch the coordination and collaboration with
my partners, absolutely we are better off than we were
What technologies do you see as potentially
contributing to MDA in the future?
STUBBS: Our job is not to go and scout out technologies. Mission managers do that. So [this office is] not
out there trying to harvest new technologies. With that
said, obviously, we’ve got to find technologies that
enable us to analyze fast and fuse vast amounts of data.
How do you take crew lists, cargo manifests, ship siting reports, vessels-of-interest list, vessels of people of
interest, cargo manifests that are being processed
through other ships or transits from a ship to a truck
or something like that, and start to get anomalous
behavior or detect patterns?
We’ve got the capabilities and technology to handle
the data, but the technology that we really need is to
fuse the data and develop the analytical tools to detect
the patterns and to find out the underlying behavior.
That’s the technologies we need.
It’s also my opinion that we do need to look at technologies that give us multilevel security capabilities.
We are going to have a problem with validating the