The October 12, 2000, attack against the Navy destroyer USS Cole in the port of Aden, Yemen, illustrated the danger of unconventional threats to U.S. ships operating in seaports overseas. The attack also heightened recognition that in-transit forces--Department of Defense (DOD) units, personnel, and assets traveling through or conducting missions within an area of operations, including operations at seaports--are vulnerable to attack by determined terrorists. This report addresses the following questions: (1) To what extent is the U.S. European Command's approach to antiterrorism designed to cover in-transit forces at seaports in its area of responsibility? (2) Does an oversight mechanism exist to review and evaluate the antiterrorism approach for in-transit forces at seaports? (3) Do significant challenges exist in the implementation of antiterrorism measures at seaports in EUCOM?
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. To improve the European Command's approach to antiterrorism for in-transit forces at seaports, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to establish a time frame for completing the memorandum of agreement delineating responsibilities for protection of Military Sealift Command (MSC) vessels operating within the European Command geographic area of responsibility.|
|Department of Defense||2. To improve the European Command's approach to antiterrorism for in-transit forces at seaports, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to expand MSC's crew-screening process to include additional personal-identifying characteristics such as fingerprints for all crewmembers and identify opportunities to utilize the international maritime community's seafarer identification initiatives to strengthen and improve MSC's process.|
|Department of Defense||3. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to expand existing Joint Staff antiterrorism oversight policies and responsibilities to include periodic, in-depth reviews of in-transit antiterrorism plans, procedures, and implementation. These reviews, similar to those conducted for fixed installations, should focus not only on the combatant command's adherence to DOD's standards and guidance, but also on evaluating the effectiveness and implementation of the antiterrorism approach and specific measures to identify gaps and weaknesses and suggest improvements.|
|Department of Defense||4. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to ensure that this review process be tested in the European Command's area of responsibility, modified as needed based on the test, and then applied to all in-transit forces in all locations, including other geographic combatant commands, as appropriate.|
|Department of Defense||5. The Secretary of Defense, through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should direct the Commander of the U.S. European Command, to develop a ship-boarding process to verify crewmember identity, inspect cargo, and control high-interest vessels entering critical ports overseas at selected seaports with strong host-nation relationships. Such a program could be patterned after the Coast Guard's sea marshal program. If successfully developed and implemented in the European Command's area of responsibility, the Chairman may wish to consider expanding the program to other geographic combatant commands.|