Combating Terrorism:

Actions Needed to Improve DOD Antiterrorism Program Implementation and Management

GAO-01-909: Published: Sep 18, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 19, 2001.

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Despite the fact that the threat to domestic military installations is estimated to be low, events such as the bombings of the USS Cole, the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon illustrate that some threats are difficult, if not impossible, to predict. Therefore, an effective antiterrorism program that can reduce vulnerabilities to such attacks is becoming an important aspect of military operations. The effectiveness of the antiterrorism program has been limited because the Department of Defense (DOD) has not (1) assessed vulnerabilities at all installations, (2) systematically prioritized resource requirements, and (3) developed a complete assessment of potential threats. The services and individual installation commanders are taking steps to reduce their vulnerabilities, but overall progress is difficult to measure because tracking systems are not in place. Limited funding has forced installation commanders to choose between antiterrorism and other base operations projects such as runway repairs and road improvements. In addition, a sense of security and complacency may have developed at installations because of the estimated low-threat environment in the United States, resulting in a lower priority for antiterrorism initiatives. DOD is taking steps to improve the antiterrorism program implementation and management to guide program execution and monitor results.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The requirement for each installation commander to form a threat working group, and tools for the commander to do so, will be included in the revised DOD Handbook 2000.12H. DOD Handbook 2000.12H was published February 2004. Page 22 of the Handbook contains instructions meeting the recommendation.

    Recommendation: To improve the implementation of the DOD antiterrorist program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict to require each installation commander to form a threat working group and personally and actively engage state, local, and federal law enforcement officials. These working groups should hold periodic meetings, prepare a record of their discussions, and provide threat information to the installation commander on a regular basis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has reviewed its threat methodology to ensure that no threat indicators are ignored or overlooked.

    Recommendation: To improve the implementation of the DOD antiterrorist program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict to expand the threat assessment methodology to increase awareness of the consequences of changing business practices at installations that may create workplace violence situations or new opportunities for individuals not affiliated with DOD to gain access to installations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD plans to provide a methodology for completing criticality assessments in the revised DOD Handbook 2000.12H.

    Recommendation: To improve the implementation of the DOD antiterrorist program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict to clarify the force protection standard requiring a criticality assessment at each installation to specifically describe the factors to be used in the assessment, and how these evaluations should support antiterrorism resource priority decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed with this recommendation, and is in the process of revising its antiterrorism standards (DOD Instruction 2000.16) to adopt this course of action. The latest revision will include a statement that CINCs and services will report annually to the Joint Staff, Deputy Director for Antiterrorism/Force Protection on the status of local vulnerability assessments and all installations that require an assessment by higher headquarters.

    Recommendation: To improve the implementation of the DOD antiterrorist program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict to develop a mechanism to record and track vulnerability assessments completed by installation commanders.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has established a more comprehensive approach to assessing National Guard installations. Specifically, the latest revision to DOD's Antiterrorism Program Directive states that antiterrorism programs are to be instituted by the military departments, including Reserve components (this includes the National Guard). As of January 2004, DOD reported that the Air Force had identified 77 Air National Guard installations that required a higher headquarters vulnerability assessment. As of that date, 48 of these installations have received initial assessment and the remaining 29 are expected to be completed in fiscal year 2004. In December 2003, the Army funded the Army National Guard to complete higher headquarters vulnerability assessments at 47 installations. There are still 221 other critical sites that need assessments, but funding is currently not available and the Secretary of the Army is continuing to seek ways to increase support based upon available funding.

    Recommendation: To improve the implementation of the DOD antiterrorist program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict to develop a strategy to complete higher headquarters vulnerability assessments at National Guard installations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD agreed that assessments should also be focused on activities that support the national military strategy regardless of number of personnel, and will take action to add such requirements in future revisions of DOD Instruction 2000.16.

    Recommendation: To improve the implementation of the DOD antiterrorist program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict to identify those installations that serve a critical role in support of our national military strategy, and ensure that they receive a higher headquarters vulnerability assessment regardless of the number of personnel assigned at the installation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD published an Antiterrorism Strategic Plan on June 15, 2004. This plan addresses many of the management framework elements recommended in GAO's report.

    Recommendation: To strengthen management of the antiterrorism program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict to establish a management framework for the antiterrorism program that would provide the Department with a vehicle to guide resource allocations and measure the results of improvement efforts. This framework should include (1) a strategic plan the defines (a) longterm antiterrorism goals, (b) approaches to achieve goals, and (c) key factors that might significantly affect achieving the goals; and (2) an implementation plan that describes (a) performance goals that are objective, quantifiable, and measurable, (b) resources to achieve these goals, (c) performance measures to measure outputs, (d) an evaluation plan to compare program results to established goals, and (e) actions needed to address any unmet goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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