Many U.S. naval bases not prepared for terror attacks

Published 27 April 2009

Auditors visited 22 of 66 naval installations last year and found only one base that adhered to the Navy directive requiring an antiterrorism plan

An internal audit of U.S. naval bases says most installations have not developed an antiterrorism plan in violation of a Navy directive given after 9/11, according to the Navy Times, which obtained the internal report through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Matthew Harwood writes that auditors visited 22 of 66 naval installations last year and found only one base that adhered to the Navy directive requiring an antiterrorism plan. The directive mandated that each installation develop protocols for determining high-value terrorism targets, conducting risk assessments, and sharing information about terrorism threats. The auditing team, the Navy Times reports, discovered that installations had wide-ranging security vulnerabilities.

The investigators looked at the Navy’s existing system for tracking terrorism vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities included observations such as “access control procedures at gates are inconsistent, poorly defined, outdated,” or “active vehicle gates are subject to high speed and have no positive stopping capability.”

Investigators found that an estimated 49 percent of the vulnerabilities identified by installations had no corresponding “mitigation action plan” listed, according to the report.

They also wrote that this was a “systemic problem” because it limits senior leaders’ ability to decide where best to direct limited funds to shore up security at Navy bases.

The Navy agreed with the auditing team’s report. The Navy Times also reports that Capt. Jim Cunha, head of anti-terrorism programs for the chief of naval operations, said the Navy will improve installation security by having patrols focus more on protecting high-value targets and creating a new system that ranks bases according to risk. Bases with nuclear weapons would receive the highest priority, followed next by bases with “vital ships and aircraft.”

The Navy is also looking at a Web-based system to track anti-terrorism efforts that would give senior leaders real-time situational awareness of how well each installation is protected. Cunha praised the audit report, telling Navy Times that it “did us a favor. … These are things we knew were a problem and were working on.”