New Report Examines Resiliency of U.S. Transportation Systems

By Matthew Harwood

Knowing how terrorist methodology has shifted means “it makes no sense” to jeopardize “the purpose of transportation so as to better protect it," argue Flynn and Burke. Rather they recommend that U.S. policymakers and security professionals commit themselves to reasonable prevention and protection measures that are “not unduly disruptive” and can survive “the-morning-after test” when they fail, therefore maintaining public confidence, while ensuring adequate plans are in place to get the transportation system up and running again quickly after an attack.

If they do so, then transportation targets become a waste of terrorists’ time and resources. "When the United States demonstrates that it has the ability to withstand attacks without inflicting damage on the essential systems that underpin our economy and way of life, terrorism becomes a less attractive weapon for America's adversaries,” Flynn and Burke write.

Nevertheless, Flynn and Burke argue not one of their recommendations is satisfied in regards to current cargo security measures, even though this lack of preparedness creates significant economic and security vulnerabilities, particularly since Mother Nature is as big as a threat as terrorism.

"While the danger that disasters will occur is inescapable, boosting resilience will always provide a positive return on investment,” write Flynn and Burke. The more resilience a country is, they argue, the better positioned it is to attract the talent and investment necessary to remain globally competitive.

The Obama administration knows this philosophically, write Flynn and Burke, crediting the president with identifying natural disaster preparedness as part of the homeland security mission and incorporating resilience as a strategic focus of homeland and national security.

But now its time to start the hard work of building resilience into U.S. critical infrastructures, they write, particularly transportation systems. Otherwise the United States is courting disaster, especially on the economic front.

"Companies striving to...grow strong and prosperous and then remain so, don't stay in societies that are easy to knock down and slow to get up," Flynn and Burke argue. "These companies know that if they are a part of a supply chain or depend on one that lacks resilient elements, they will wither and die. So they move to safer harbors that can better assure business continuity."

♦ Photo by doobybrain/Flickr


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