Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Security Forces at Chemical Facilities – Mission Requirements

Yesterday’s blog (see: "Security Forces at Chemical Facilities – Mission Definition") looked at the potential missions that a security force might have to perform. We can now look at those missions to see which missions might require the use of force in their completion. This will allow us to determine which missions require what types of weapons.

Access Control Mission

There are two types of access control missions, exterior and interior. Both types share the characteristic of having potential targets approach the access control point seeking entrance to a secure area.

At interior access control points, allowing access from within the facility into a restricted area, security personnel may remain in a protected area and use remote sensors (CCTV, keypads, or biometric-scanners) to identify authorized personnel. Remotely operated doors or gates allow access. Preliminary screening was done at an exterior access control point, so the risk of physical attack is lower. The security force personnel operating such a station typically do not need to use force.

At exterior access control points, targets are moving from an uncontrolled environment into the security zone. At chemical facilities this normally means vehicular movement with vehicles ranging from privately owned automobiles to loaded trucks to railcars. Security personnel will be more exposed because they will be required to inspect and maybe search vehicles. Force may be required to prevent the movement of an armed vehicle into the facility.

Force in this instance does not necessarily mean firearms. There are a wide variety of anti-vehicular devices (see: "Security Equipment Review 2-26-08", Vehicle Barriers) that can be used to stop unauthorized vehicles from entering the facility. The use of these types of devices lowers facility liability issues because their use does not rise to the level of ‘deadly force’.

Perimeter Patrol Missions

Perimeter patrol missions are primarily designed to detect perimeter penetration attempts early in their development and to deter penetration attempts. During an actual penetration event the mission can quickly escalate through incident investigation, intrusion response, to potentially counter-force operations.

In the event of an actual perimeter penetration unarmed perimeter patrols are going to have firm instructions to evacuate the penetration site and fall back to an observation position. They then become an intelligence asset, providing information for response forces.

By the very nature of their operational location the use of force by perimeter patrols can easily fall into a legal grey area. Corporate liability can be greatly reduced with only slight mission impact by the use of non-lethal weapons. The use of high intensity strobes (see: "Security Equipment Review 2-26-08", Non-Lethal Weapons) shows promise for this type operation.

Security Escort Mission

Security escorts provide accompanied access to restricted areas within the facility. In many facilities this is not considered a security force mission, but is rather assigned to operational personnel from the facility. The use of security personnel, however, provides someone that can provide dedicated observation of an unvetted outsider while they are in sensitive areas.

While personnel being escorted have not undergone a complete background investigation, they usually represent an agency or company that is trusted in the business sense. Their security risk is unlikely to involve the use of force since their equipment should already have been searched for weapons and explosives. They are being observed to insure they do not disable security devices or gain access to sensitive information. Thus, there is little need for the escorts to be armed.

Security System Monitoring Mission

Security personnel monitoring CCTV screens, alarm panels, and other security device outputs are usually well removed from tactical operations. They may, in fact, not even be on site. There is no need for these personnel to be armed.

Counter-surveillance Missions

To be the most effective the personnel conducting counter-surveillance operations should be covert. Their mission is to detect and monitor early signs of the intelligence collection that is necessary for any offensive operation, including terrorist attacks. Their information will be presented to police or intelligence agencies for preemptive actions. To maintain their covert nature they should not be armed.

Incident Investigation Missions

The more the facility relies on electronic or automated security systems, the more they are going to need security personnel to physically check the accuracy of the information provided by those systems. A system that does not have false alarms is not set to a high enough level of sensitivity.

The main purpose of the investigation mission is to move to the designated area, collect and report information. Usually that information is necessary to plan an appropriate response. There will, however, be minor incidents that can be handled by the investigation team. This means that they should be able to use some level of force. Weapons like those suggested in the Perimeter Patrol Mission discussion are probably adequate.

Intrusion Response Mission

When an intrusion is detected and verified, the intrusion response force will move to the area, find the intruder(s) and attempt to detain them. Lacking detention, the team will attempt to stop the intruder(s) from completing their intended mission. This force will certainly have to be armed with the appropriate means to complete this mission.

Counter-force Missions

Counter-force missions are more closely identified with military or paramilitary forces rather than with security forces. The facility is being protected against an armed attack by a significantly sized and equipped force. Deadly force is expected to be used and the defending security forces will equipped with a variety of weapons. No facility in the United States would be expected to conduct such a mission without augmentation by government forces.

Security Mission Planning

As alluded to in the earlier blog, not all facilities will expect to employ security forces to execute all of these missions. The lower the facilities’ risk for potential attack the less likely they are to require the performance of more than Access Control Mission. Low-risk facilities will rely on police forces for the application of force.

Site security plans will have to take into account the fact that risk levels can change over time. Increased threat levels will require that facilities take on more of the security missions that they normally rely on police to perform.

We’ll discuss weapon selection criteria in an upcoming blog.

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