Posts tagged ‘Homeland Security’
July in the Arctic.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy breaks through ice in the Arctic circle on July 14, 2015. We’d be the first to admit this blog doesn’t run enough photos of Coast Guard operations. So here’s one we thought was both pretty and arresting.
This image was taken — not from an airplane or helicopter — but from an Aerostat, an unmanned, airship that is tethered to the ground — or in this case, a ship. In fact in this photo you can see the cable tethering the aerostat to the Healy’s deck.
Aerostats, which have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan to enhance perimeter security around the larger U.S. bases and in the Caribbean to monitor illegal drug trafficking by airplane, provide — in the words of this photo’s official caption– a “self-contained, compact platform that can deploy multiple sensor payloads [radar and video cameras] and other devices into the air.”
The recently released annual report on the world’s climate by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Meteorological Society finds that temperatures on the ocean surface reached their highest levels in 135 years of record keeping. For several years, experts have been worried about the rising rate of sea ice melt in the Arctic and its implications for climate, sea levels and maritime commerce. In March, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this year’s maximum extent of sea ice was the lowest on record since satellites began monitoring the Arctic.
Attack in the Homeland.
Four U.S. Marines were killed and another service member was wounded in two separate shootings in Chattanooga, Tennessee, today (July 16).
The shootings took place at the Navy Operational Support Support Center, and at an armed forces recruiting center, officials said.
The gunman, believed to be acting alone, was also killed and a local police officer was wounded in the shooting spree. The FBI is leading the investigation. A motive for the attacks has not been determined but officials are treating it as a domestic terrorist attack.
The alleged gunman was identified as Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Kuwait.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stepped up protective measures at “certain federal facilities, out of an abundance of caution,” said DHS Secretary Jeh [Pronounced Jay] Johnson. For more than a year, Johnson has been saying that his biggest concerns are homegrown or self-radicalized lone wolf terrorists and citizens of Western countries returning home imbued with violent extremist Islamist ideology after fighting in war torn Syria and the territories controlled by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.
The Navy Operational Support Center is used by Navy and Marine Corps personnel, and is often referred to as a “reserve center,” Navy officials said. It provides training and readiness support for reserve-component personnel to enable them to support the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps.
Get Shorty – Again.
Back in February we reported that the man considered the most powerful narco crime lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, had been recaptured by Mexican authorities after his 2001 escape from a Mexican prison.
Now word comes from Mexico that Guzman Loera has escaped from prison again. Mexican authorities once again are pledging to “Get Shorty,” — El Chapo means “Shorty.”
The kingpin snuck out of the prison through a subterranean tunnel more than 1.5 km (1 mile) long that ended at an abandoned property near the local town, National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido told a news conference on Sunday (July 12), Reuters and other news organizations reported.
Guzman, who had bribed his way out of prison during an escape in 2001, was seen on video entering his shower area at 8:52 p.m. on Saturday (0152 GMT Sunday), then disappeared, the National Security Commission (CNS) said.
The escape from the maximum security Atliplano prison is a political embarrassment for the Mexican government and a personal one for President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has portrayed the capture of Guzman and other drug kingpins as a key to restoring safety and security in Mexico where the long battle between government forces and organized crime that has cost tens of thousands of lives sine 2007.
Guzman became infamous in 2001 after escaping from a high security prison and building up the Sinaloa Cartel – named for his home state and known for beheading its enemies or hanging their bodies in public places.
In a world where North Korea can hack a movie production company’s internal communication and employee data as an act of revenge and diplomatic pique and U.S. authorities are looking into cyber spying on a Major League Baseball team — possibly by another team — it should come as no surprise that another U.S. government agency is upping its cyber defense game.
The U.S. Coast Guard has developed a cyber strategy to guide its priorities over the next 10 years. Those priorities include: defending U.S. cyberspace and the Coast Guard’s network; recognizing cyberspace as an operational domain and defend the Coast Guard’s information and communication networks while developing capabilities to detect, deter and defeat malicious activity in cyberspace; protecting the information system infrastructure that the national Maritime Transportation System relies on, which has economic and national security implications.
Admiral Paul Zukunft, the Coast Guard’s commandant, outlined the strategy this week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank. He noted that all aspects of modern life have been enhanced – but often made dependent — on information technology from mobile phones to data storage facilities. And that has made numerous entities, including the nation’s Maritime Transportation System vulnerable to a wide range of cyber attacks by adversaries ranging from terrorists and hostile nation states to transnational organized crime cartels and disaffected or sloppy IT workers.
A key defense, Zukunft said several times was “cyber hygiene,” following safety practices when using government, corporate or personal computer systems. That includes not sharing passwords or using easily corruptible devices like thumb drives.
Zukunft noted that the nation’s security and prosperity is critically reliant on a safe and secure maritime domain, which, in turn is dependent on safe and reliable communications and digital networks. But the Coast Guard faces a daunting task. The two-year-old Coast Guard Cyber Command has just 70 members compared to the thousands at the Defense Department’s cyber unit. The cyber strategy notes that a recent report to Congress indicates an 1,121-percent rise in cybersecurity incidents reported to government agencies from 2006 to 2014. The report, by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) cites a significant rise in the compromise of sensitive information which could adversely affect national security, public health and safety.
[Digital] Help Wanted.
(REPEATING POSTING ON THIS WEB SITE AND OTHERS AFTER IT WAS APPARENTLY DELETED BY ACCIDENT FROM WORDPRESS.)
With every passing week, the necessity – and vulnerability — of cyberspace becomes more apparent.
Hardware and software failures on the Bloomberg LP network forced its iconic trading terminals to go dark for several hours on April 17 and financial markets across much of the globe ground to a halt.
The private correspondence of top executives and personal data of thousands of employees at Sony Pictures were revealed to the world last year by North Korean hackers after the movie company released a comedy about a plot to assassinate the dictatorship’s leader. The data was published again by WikiLeaks in mid-April.
And in the most recent incident, hackers, traced to Russia, penetrated an unclassified Pentagon network earlier this year before they were detected, identified and expelled. “They discovered an old vulnerability in one of our legacy networks that hadn’t been patched,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told an audience at Stanford University April 23.
The revelation came as Carter unveiled an updated version of the Defense Department security strategy for cyberspace. While the technology advances developed in Silicon Valley and elsewhere have made many things in modern life “easier, cheaper and safer,” Carter noted that “it’s become clear that these same advances and technologies also present a degree of risk to the businesses, governments, militaries, and individual people who rely on them every day … making it easier, cheaper, and safer to threaten them. The same Internet that enables Wikipedia also allows terrorists to learn how to build a bomb.”
Three-Day Maritime Conference.
Future challenges and current needs for the sea services – the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard – will be the hot topics this week at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Expo at National Harbor, Maryland.
Top officials, including Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Admiral James Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft, Marine Corps Commandant General Joseph Dunford and naval commandants from Singapore, Australia and Japan will be among the speakers at the three-day event that starts Monday (April 13) across the river from Washington, D.C.
Big names in the defense and maritime industries like Northrop Grumman, Boeing, L-3, General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Austal and BAE Systems will exhibiting their latest products for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Components of the services like the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) will also ne detailing their plans and equipment requirements in the coming fiscal year.
Your 4GWAR editor will be there too, as part of the small army of reporters covering the goings on for the Navy League’s Seapower magazine and its daily show publication. We’ll be focusing on unmanned aircraft and the Coast Guard’s strategic plan for the Western Hemisphere among other assignments.
If you can’t make it to the Gaylord Convention Center, you can catch the latest news at the Seapower website and on Twitter at @seaairspace and @SeapowerMag
A Matter of Fairness.
If Congress fails to reach an agreement by midnight tonight (Friday, March 27), funding for the Department of Homeland Security will cease.
Pundits, politicians and analysts are quick to point out that the vast majority of DHS employees have been deemed “essential” to national security so the department will not shut down.
There will still be U.S. Border Patrol agents halting people, drugs and weapons smuggling in the Southwest and elsewhere.
There will still be Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel screening passengers and their baggage at more than 400 U.S. airports.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will continue checking people and cargo coming into the United States on trucks, planes and ships – as well as in cars and on foot at border crossings.
The U.S. Coast Guard will continue its myriad tasks ranging from rescuing people at sea to maintaining security at the nation’s ports and harbors to enforcing maritime safety and environmental laws.
The Secret Service will continuing guarding the president and other top officials.
But the 85 percent of the department’s approximately 240,000 workers who required to report for duty if the funding stops will not be paid until Congress passes a DHS appropriations bill.
“What message does this send … that we don’t think enough of you to pay you?” an alarmed Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire asked in a CNN interview today (February 27) as both the Senate and House of Representatives tried to figure a way out of the political tangle touched off by Republicans’ objection to President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
While some say nothing bad will happen if non-essential DHS workers are furloughed – and others argue something terrible could happen, it is obvious that there are lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who see political gain in a partial shutdown of DHS: either to make the point that the agency’s budget is bloated or to convince voters the other side don’t care about protecting the nation from terrorism in a time of mounting threats.
Following his presentation at a Border Management industry conference earlier this week, we asked Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher what a partial DHS shutdown would mean for his agency’s mission.
“It impacts our operations, no doubt,” he said. But Fisher was confidant his people could still secure the border. “It’s unfortunate if it comes to that, that they will be working without pay, but I will tell you – in terms of their commitment to border security – on that we’ll not falter.”
At the same conference (sponsored by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement) TSA Chief of Staff Thomas McDaniels Jr. said the approximately 45,000 airport screeners exempt from being furloughed are required to report for work in the event of a funding halt. He noted the average starting salary for Transportation Security Officers, is $25,000 a year. “So we’re asking our frontline homeland security officials who are not making the most money to go without paychecks,” he said. While they are guaranteed retroactive pay once Congress can come to agreement on a funding bill, McDaniels added, “I think that’s a lot to ask of people who may be living paycheck to paycheck.” The last government shutdown to halt TSA paychecks lasted 17 days, he said, but there was no “significant attrition” after things returned to normal.
Wolf Tombe, CBP’s chief technology officer, told conference attendees that the country is confronting new threats from cyber-attacks and lone wolf terrorists, to disease outbreaks like Ebola. “The threat is evolving. We need to evolve with it, to stay ahead of it,” he said, outlining technologies his office is exploring from wearable sensors and cameras to hand launched surveillance drones to thermometers that can take an arriving air passenger’s temperature from a safe distance of 10 feet.
But if Congress fails to reach a compromise on DHS funding “all this gets shut down,” Tombe told 4GWAR “because I’m not considered essential. So my organization gets furloughed.”