HOMELAND SECURITY: New Threats, Tight Money

October 29, 2014 at 11:47 pm Leave a comment

Protecting the Border — and Everywhere Else.

U.S. Border Patrol would rather send robots than agents to investigate drug smuggling tunnels, like this one in Nogales, Arizona, between the U.S. and Mexico. (Customs and Border Protection photo by Josh Denmark)

U.S. Border Patrol would rather send robots than agents to investigate drug smuggling tunnels, like this one in Nogales, Arizona, between the U.S. and Mexico. (Customs and Border Protection photo by Josh Denmark)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for protecting Americans from terrorism, transnational organized crime and natural disasters, but new threats continue to spring up.

In the past year, DHS confronted unexpected challenges like the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa and the massive influx of illegal immigrants, most of them children unaccompanied by adults.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently cited his biggest threat concerns. One is the lone wolf, self-radicalized gunman with no known connection to terrorist groups. Johnson said that is the threat he worries about most because it’s the hardest to detect and “could happen on very little notice.” The recent attacks on uniformed soldiers in Canada and police in New York City underscored the danger. Johnson also has concerns about Americans returning from fighting in Syria and the Islamic State, radicalized by Islamist extremists and armed with the skill sets to commit mayhem.

Those threats, and ways to deal with them, were discussed Oct. 6-9 at a homeland security conference in Washington sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement (IDGA).

Officials from one of DHS’s biggest components, Customs and Border Protection, said congressional budget cuts require them to look for equipment and technology that will help them do their job with less people and, for less money. “We’re about managing risk now,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher.

Wolf Tombe, CBP’s chief technology officer outlined several areas where new technology could help. Tombe said DHS was dealing with massive amounts of data from biometric identification systems like fingerprints.

“The real ideal capability is to use all of them – fingerprints, facial recognition and iris scan – to see if they all match” the people presenting themselves for entry into the United States at airports, seaports and land border crossings, Tombe said. Right now fingerprints are the core biometric technology. Facial recognition “is in its early stages” of use and iris identification and verification “is being evaluated,” he added.

“The U.S. border is tens of thousands of miles and it is impossible to cover with a human presence alone,” Tombe said. Cross-border tunnels used by drug, gun and people smugglers are getting bigger and more sophisticated with lighting and their own sensors and communications, Tombe said, adding that CBP “would much rather send a robot” to investigate a tunnel than endanger an officer.

To see the rest of this story, click here or go to:

http://www.idga.org/homeland-security/articles/as-new-threats-rise-and-budgets-fall-dhs-looks-for/

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Entry filed under: Counter Terrorism, Homeland Security, National Security and Defense, Skills and Training, Technology, Unmanned Systems. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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