HOMELAND SECURITY: Customs and Border Protection Seeks Technology to Close Security Gap

October 23, 2013 at 12:36 am Leave a comment

Maritime Weak Link

A group of CBP UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters on patrol over the Caribbean. (CBP photo)

A group of CBP UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters on patrol over the Caribbean. (CBP photo)

Maritime Domain Awareness – knowing who and what are in and around U.S. waters – is still “a major gap” for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unit charged with securing the nation’s borders, according to a top official of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“Nobody has a good solution set for MDA. We don’t, neither does the Navy or the Coast Guard,” Randolph Alles, assistant CBP commissioner and head of the agency’s Office of Air and Marine told a recent homeland security conference in Washington.

The solution, he said, is a number of technology programs to help see bad guys at night, on the water and on land. To that end, Alles, a retired Marine Corps major general, plans to put sensors, on as many of his 260 aircraft – like Guardian Drones and Blackhawk helicopters – and 300 watercraft that budget restraints will allow.

Randolph Alles, head of the Homeland Security Department's air force and navy: Custom and Border Protection's Office of Air & Marine. (CBP photo)

Randolph Alles, head of the Homeland Security Department’s air force and navy: Custom and Border Protection’s Office of Air & Marine. (CBP photo)

Alles told the conference, sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA), that he wants to take a “building block approach rather than a large system approach” because of tight money. His estimated budget for technology appropriations will hover between $50 million and $70 million per year for the near term, he said.

Alles, who took over as head of OA&M in January, said he wants to link video and data from numerous sensors. “Integrating all of these systems is one of my technology objectives,” he told the IDGA conference Oct. 17 – the day the U.S. government shutdown ended.

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Entry filed under: Homeland Security, Latin America, National Security and Defense, Skills and Training, Technology. Tags: , , , , , .

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