Security team sweeps designed to uncover base vulnerabilities
STUTTGART, Germany — A team of anti-terrorism experts recently swept through Stuttgart and Garmisch.
It did not sweep through as in “in and out.” The team did a sweep of the military installations of Army Garrison Stuttgart. Its goal: to assess their vulnerability to the unthinkable — an attack that produces mass casualties — and their ability to deal with the consequences.
The Joint Staff Integrated Vulnerability Assessments team, or JSIVA, tries to think like an attacker, probing bases such as Patch Barracks for weaknesses. The seven team members work for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and ultimately under Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Their assessments are thorough, and they expect their recommendations to be acted upon.
“Typical concerns would depend on the tactic you’re attempting to offset, and what level you’re looking at for stand-off, whether from a [car bomb] or some other type of tactic,” said Navy Capt. John Murphy, chief of the team that recently assessed Stuttgart and Garmisch.
They size up what would be the most likely terrorist tactics used at a given base, then advise the installations on how to mitigate the potential danger.
“We typically emphasize a good, strong first level of defense, and then have some level of defense in depth in the event something sneaks through,” Murphy said.
JSIVA was established after the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996, when a truck bomb killed 19 Air Force personnel and wounded hundreds more. The bomb struck a dormitory for airmen who were enforcing the Operation Southern Watch no-fly zone in southern Iraq.
There are six JSIVA teams that each conduct 20-25 assessments of bases per year, Murphy said.
“Within (the U.S. European Command), for example, the European commander as well as the U.S. Army commander has some specific follow-up actions and detailed requirements that the installations have to submit,” Murphy said.
“In some cases there may not be an easy solution with certain bases. We just don’t have a magic wand that can fix everything. The intention is, if it can’t be fixed, how can it at least be addressed? How can certain weaknesses be mitigated?”
In his year and a half on the job, Murphy said he has seen the bar raised in Europe for the level of security that bases can provide. He also said tangible results have been made.
“I have seen a fairly dramatic improvement and emphasis on force protection, not that it wasn’t there before,” he said. “But I think we moved it to establishing higher levels of what installations can and will attain.”
Seven people are on Navy Capt. John Murphy’s Joint Staff Integrated Vulnerability Assessments team:
Murphy, the team chief.Two engineers. One looks at the physical security of buildings, analyzes different types of blast effects, establishes safe stand-off distances and advises on ongoing projects. The other focuses on infrastructure such as water, power and communications and seeks to protect those areas.Two members focus on installation layout and various aspects of physical security.An emergency management specialist examines a base’s emergency response capability in the event a mass-casualty incident occurs.A terrorist operations specialist assesses an installation’s ability to collect and deal with intelligence.Source: Navy Capt. John Murphy