Photo Courtesy of DHS
DHS Secretary John Kelly
By Michael V. Cusenza
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently announced enhanced security measures for all last-point-of-departure airports in 105 countries around world. The measures, which were crafted in response to “urgent and evolving threats,” according to DHS Secretary John Kelly, will be implemented in phases, in coordination with international partners.
In light of evaluated intelligence, Kelly deemed it necessary to implement enhanced security actions for all commercial flights to the United States. These measures, both seen and unseen, include enhanced screening of passengers and electronic devices as well as heightened security standards for aircraft and airports, Kelly noted.
• Countries: 105
• Airports: 280 (approximate; will vary based on seasonal airports)
• Total airlines: 180
• Average daily flights: 2,100
• Passengers: 325,000 average daily passengers
“Terrorists want to bring down aircraft to instill fear, disrupt our economies, and undermine our way of life. And it works—which is why they still see aviation as the crown jewel target in their world,” Kelly said last week at the Center for New American Security 2017 Annual Conference. “The threat has not diminished. In fact, I am concerned that we are seeing renewed interest on the part of terrorist groups to go after the aviation sector—from bombing aircraft to attacking airports on the ground, as we saw in Brussels and Istanbul. However, we are not standing on the sidelines while fanatics hatch new plots. The U.S. government is focused on deterring, detecting, and disrupting these threats.”
Kelly noted that he has “made a point” to discuss securing aviation with all stakeholders: international partners, industry leaders, private-sector participants.
“My conclusion is this: It is time that we raise the global baseline of aviation security,” he said. “We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat. Instead, we must put in place new measures across the board to keep the traveling public safe and make it harder for terrorists to succeed.”
Raising that baseline starts with the aforementioned enhanced security efforts. In his remarks at the conference, Kelly said they “will be phased in over time” and include enhanced screening of electronic devices, more thorough passenger vetting, and new measures designed to mitigate the potential threat of insider attacks.
“While these actions we are announcing today will improve the security of U.S.-bound flights, I am hopeful other nations will follow suit,” Kelly added. “Unless we all raise our security standards, terrorists—who see commercial aviation as the greatest takedown—will find and attack the weakest link.