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Maritime, Land Security a Big Part of TSA Mission, Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2002 – Although airport security efforts get the headlines, securing the nation's ports, waterways, coastline and land assets is just as important a part of the Transportation Security Administration's mission, a senior TSA official said today.

"While aviation security has captured most of the media and most of the interest, maritime and land is a significant portion of the (U.S.) transportation security system," Steven E. Froehlich of TSA's Office of Maritime and Land Security told a homeland security conference audience here. "In fact, it represents five-sixths of the transportation sector."

Besides being responsible for protecting the nation's ports, waterways and coastline, Froehlich said his office "also handles highways -- which includes trucks and buses -- rail, mass transit and pipelines."

He explained that his office organized into sections for passenger security, cargo security, infrastructure security, and response preparedness.

He then ticked off some statistics to illustrate the scope of his office's areas of responsibility, noting that the United States has:

  • 3.9 million miles of public roads.

  • 11.2 million trucks and 2.2 million railcars enter the country each year.

  • 120,000 miles of major railroads.

  • 2.2 million miles of pipelines, which carry combustible materials like crude oil, gasoline and natural gas.

  • Public transit systems that account for 9 billion commuter trips each year.

  • 25,000 miles of commercial, navigable waters.

  • 7,500 foreign-flagged ships that make 51,000 ports of call each year at the nation's 361 ports.
"So, when you think TSA, you don't think just aviation, you don't think just maritime. You've got to think of all of the other (transportation) modes as well," he pointed out.

A challenge for the new Homeland Security Department and TSA will be to "not make one aspect of a mode of transportation security more secure and leave the others more vulnerable," he emphasized.

Applying a risk management approach and realistic threat assessments will help TSA perform its mission, Froehlich remarked. He noted that routine TSA transportation security efforts provide protection while producing a negligible effect on commerce.

"This allows targeted and layered security, which permits accommodation of transportation volume," unless a heightening level of threat is detected, he explained.

If security levels at a port or pipeline increase, "then different (security) standards will kick in," he concluded.

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