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US House Armed Services Committee




June 28, 2001


Thank you for this opportunity to provide the Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism of the House Armed Service Committee with this overview of force protection policies and practices at Naval Station Norfolk.

          Understanding the force protection plans and requirements at Naval Station Norfolk requires an understanding of the base and its missions, which create a unique and challenging security environment.   Naval Station Norfolk has the largest supported population of any facility in the U.S. Navy: 54,000 military and 11,000 civilian personnel.   Fleet units homeported or based at Naval Station Norfolk include 77 ships and 16 Naval Aviation squadrons with 138 aircraft.   The ships include five aircraft carriers and 11 submarines, all nuclear powered.   Naval Station Norfolk hosts 13 afloat staffs, including Commander Second Fleet, three Carrier Group commanders, two Cruiser Destroyer Group commanders, and four Destroyer Squadron commanders.   Additionally, 102 other commands are based on Naval Station Norfolk.   But these numbers, large as they are, tell only part of the story.

          Seven functions vital for fleet readiness are carried out aboard Naval Station Norfolk. The first is port operations at Naval Station's 14 piers.   Second, air operations conducted at Chambers Field's 8,000-foot runway and two separate helicopter operating areas.   Third, Naval Station Norfolk is one of the Atlantic Fleet's primary logistics hubs, hosting a Fleet and Industrial Supply Center, a Defense Distribution Depot, an Ocean Terminal, an Air Mobility Command (AMC) passenger and cargo terminal, and an Atlantic Ordnance Command weapons storage and trans-shipment facility.   Fourth, Naval Station Norfolk has a large maintenance and repair infrastructure, including the Ship Intermediate Maintenance Activity, Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department, the Fleet Technical Support Center Atlantic, a detachment from Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP) Jacksonville, a detachment from Norfolk Naval Shipyard, a floating drydock, and other facilities. Fifth, training is a significant activity on the base.   Training commands include the Fleet Training Center, Afloat Training Group, Submarine Training Facility, and several aviation training units.   Sixth, Naval Station Norfolk hosts two critical communications facilities: the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic and the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet's East Coast Network Operations Center.   The seventh function is personnel support, including a Personnel Support Activity and two Personnel Support Detachments, the Navy's largest Transient Personnel Unit, and the facilities common to any large base: Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities, chaplains, family housing, Navy Exchange, Commissary, medical clinic, dental clinic, and others.

The large concentration of fleet units and personnel at Naval Station Norfolk, as well as the wide range of functions carried out there, generate significant force protection Challenges.   I will highlight four of them.   The first is maintaining effective perimeter security. Naval Station Norfolk has 14 miles of shoreline, 13.7 miles of fenceline, four gates that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and five gates that are open for rush hour or normal working hours.   Thousands of automobiles pass through those gates every day; hundreds of trucks pass through them every week.

The waterfront presents a particularly difficult perimeter security challenge. Naval Station Norfolk's 14 piers cover two miles of waterfront that must be watched closely 24 hour a day.   To make matters worse, that waterfront lies along the Elizabeth River - the waterway to four major port facilities that handle thousands of commercial vessels every year.   The Elizabeth River also is part of the Intra-Coastal Waterway, bringing hundreds of pleasure boaters past the Navy's piers every month.   Picking out the one vessel that may be a threat from that milieu is a challenge indeed.

Perimeter security is made more difficult by decisions made during the period 1995-1998, when Naval Station Norfolk, like almost all naval bases, was an "open" base with no guards on the gates.   Four entrances to the base were rebuilt during that period, but without gates that could be closed on warning of an imminent threat.   Additionally, the most significant personnel support area of the base - hosting the Navy Exchange, Commissary, medical clinic and dental clinic - is outside the perimeter fence.   Hundreds of military personnel and their families use these facilities every day, making those facilities potentially vulnerable "soft" targets for terrorists. Although we have no indication of a specific threat to those facilities, terrorists historically have favored "soft" targets offering the possibility of mass casualties over other targets they know will be better protected.

The second challenge is providing effective defense in depth. The piers and airfield compound receive special attention due to the mission critical ships and aircraft located there. They are protected by a second layer of security: sentries at the entrances to the piers and a guarded perimeter fence around the flight line. The weapons compound is also well protected.   At the same time, however, facilities in which large numbers of military personnel and their families gather are vulnerable due to the weaknesses in perimeter security described above. For that reason, even as I work to enhance the security of mission critical assets, my top priority remains upgrading security for the vulnerable "soft" targets on Naval Station Norfolk.

The third challenge is ensuring security for the numerous special events that are held on Naval Station Norfolk every year. Many involve visiting dignitaries, like the President, Members of Congress, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy, who need special protection due to their high visibility as public figures.   Other events are open to the public, like the annual Azalea Festival Air Show, which attracted over 250,000 spectators over two days. Most challenging of all are events that involve both visiting dignitaries and large numbers of the public, like ship commissioning ceremonies and flag officer changes of command. Ceasing to hold such events is not the answer.   We must be able to protect them from the threat of terrorist attack.

The fourth challenge is ensuring the security of the 24 flag and general officers that reside on Naval Station Norfolk and the 9 who work here.   Although senior officers have not been targeted by terrorists in the continental United States in the past, they have been targeted overseas and our plans must address the possibility that such a threat could arise here in the future.  

Force Protection Initiatives

To meet the challenges described above, I am pursuing a number of initiatives to enhance force protection at Naval Station Norfolk.   My efforts are guided and supported by initiatives being pursued by Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT), Admiral Robert J. Natter, and Commander, Naval Region Mid-Atlantic, Rear Admiral Christopher Cole.   Admiral Natter and Rear Admiral Cole have directed a wide range of security enhancements at all bases in their areas of responsibility.   They are providing as much resources as they can to implement key enhancements immediately, while at the same time seeking additional funding to implement a large number of critically important enhancements whose cost exceeds available resources.   I also work closely with Commander Second Fleet (COMSECONDFLT), Vice Admiral Michael Mullen, on force protection for ships and aircraft at Naval Station Norfolk. Vice Admiral Mullen has directed the Second Fleet to significantly enhance its force protection posture and training.   I strive to ensure that Fleet efforts are integrated with Naval Station Norfolk and Naval Region Mid-Atlantic force protection efforts for greatest effectiveness.

Admiral Natter, Vice Admiral Mullen and Rear Admiral Cole emphasize that the Navy's efforts to enhance force protection are much more than a set of specific measures. Their fundamental goal is a change in mindset and culture that integrates force protection into every aspect of our planning and the day-to-day execution of our mission. For example, the level of security provided at Threat Condition (THREATCON) Normal has been greatly increased. Certain force protection measures that in the past would not have been invoked until a higher level of THREATCON had been declared are now routine at THREATCON Normal.   This entails a certain amount of inconvenience, but is essential for maintaining an effective force protection posture in this era of violent peace when terrorism is often the weapon of choice against the United States.

A key security enhancement that has been put in place quickly at relatively low cost is Random Anti-Terrorist Measures (RAM).   Rear Admiral Cole directed that all bases in Naval Region Mid-Atlantic have an aggressive RAM program long before the bombing of USS COLE. The purpose of RAMs is to complicate the planning of a terrorist contemplating an attack by making it difficult to discern a predictable pattern to our security posture.   We enact special, highly visible measures randomly on a daily basis.   This forces a potential attacker to devote more time and resources to pre-attack surveillance, giving us greater opportunity to detect pre-attack surveillance and preparations, and may even deter the attack.

Regionalization of program management in Naval Region Mid-Atlantic has also accrued force protection benefits for Naval Station Norfolk.   Security and force protection efforts across the region are directed by the Program Manager for Public Safety, Captain O.W. Wright.   This has allowed standardization of policies, procedures and training across the naval bases in the Hampton Roads fleet concentration area, which enhances the ability of each base to meet Navy force protection standards. Additionally, when special events requiring additional security measures are held at Naval Station Norfolk, the Program Manager for Public Safety can concentrate personnel and equipment from around the region to provide effective security for the event.   This has proven to be highly effective, particularly given the constraints on resources available for force protection.

Rear Admiral Cole also established a regional Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection (AT/FP) Task Force led by Captain Wright. Building on the Joint Staff Integrated Vulnerability Assessments that had been conducted on all the bases in Navy Region Mid-Atlantic in the Summer and Fall of 2000, the AT/FP Task Force conducted a zero-based review of force protection readiness at all of the naval bases in the Hampton Roads area.   They examined plans, procedures, training, equipment and facilities issues, and generated an integrated priority list of enhancements and upgrades.   The work of the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic AT/FP Task Force has been invaluable for ensuring that force protection efforts are well integrated and based on an objective assessment of vulnerabilities at each base.

In compliance with the Navy's defense in depth approach to force protection,

Naval Station Norfolk has identified Mission Essential Vulnerable Areas and has established a strategy for placement of barriers, street closures, parking restrictions, and access controls under increased THREATCONs. More importantly, Naval Station Norfolk is taking a wide range of actions to enhance its defense in depth posture at THREATCON Normal, providing a second layer of defense for mission essential areas.

Naval Station Norfolk has implemented enhanced flightline security procedures at Chambers Field.   A new flightline security fence was completed this spring, guards are posted at entrances to the flightline and roving patrols check on the guards and the fenceline. Access to the flightline is now strictly controlled, providing a second layer of defense for the squadrons and their aircraft.   Because the flightline fence was designed and construction commenced before current force protection polices were in place, it has a small number of vulnerabilities that must be corrected.   Additionally, the design of the fence inadvertently provided more gates that must be open and guarded than would have been the case had it been designed with current force protection standards in mind. I have requested funding to correct flightline fence vulnerabilities and make enhancements to gates, such as remote operation for emergency vehicle access, in order to reduce watchstanding requirements.

Significant improvements have been made to waterfront security.   Last fall, Naval Station Norfolk installed a float line marking the perimeter of the restricted area around the piers.   The float line probably would not stop a terrorist determined to enter the restricted area, but has proven invaluable for keeping civilian vessels away from the piers.   That is a significant advantage for Naval Station's Harbor Patrol, making it much easier for them identify and intercept unauthorized vessels approaching the piers. We have more than doubled the Harbor Patrol presence on the waterfront; made possible with temporary duty personnel provided by ships homeported at Naval Station Norfolk at the direction of COMSECONDFLT.   We have installed more visible and more strongly worded "Keep Out" warning signs on the ends of all the piers.   CINCLANTFLT purchased portable guard towers and portable floodlight carts that we deploy at the ends of the piers on a random basis to enhance waterfront security. Additionally, COMSECONDFLT has directed ships to provide greater security at the gates controlling access to the piers; Naval Station Norfolk provides personnel to assist that effort. Communications between pier sentries and Naval Station Security have been enhanced by duress alarms and a dedicated security radio system that were installed last year. Over the next six months those gates will be strengthened to make it more difficult for vehicles to ram through them.

These waterfront security measures have greatly enhanced the force protection posture at Naval Station Norfolk, but they do not provide a high degree of assurance that we could stop a determined attacker.   My goal, shared by my chain of command, is to put in place an integrated security system consisting of surveillance systems, patrol boats and pier sentries, and barriers.

The Harbor Patrol force at Naval Station Norfolk is not sufficient to provide high assurance that an attacker would be detected, intercepted and halted before being able to complete an attack.   To provide greater assurance, I need four additional patrol boats and crews to man them.

At times weather conditions and other factors can seriously hamper the effectiveness of the Harbor Patrol boats; guard towers and an electronic surveillance system are vital for providing full coverage of the waterfront to complement the patrol boats. In addition to the mobile towers already provided by CINCLANTFLT, a permanent guard tower will be built 50 yards off the end of a new pier being built in the center of the Naval Station Norfolk waterfront. The guard tower will provide a commanding view of the waterfront, greatly enhancing the effectiveness of the Harbor Patrol boats.   An electronic surveillance system, including cameras and perhaps other sensors, is also needed to provide complete and continuous coverage of the waterfront.

The final element that is needed is an anti-small craft barrier system. The perimeter of the restricted area is only 135 yards from the piers at its closest point, and only 300 yards from the piers at its furthest point. A boat travelling at ten knots - reasonable even for one carrying a large quantity of explosives - would need only 24 to 54 seconds to reach the side of a ship. At 30 knots, a boat would only need 8 to 18 seconds to reach the side of a ship.   That is not very much time for either Harbor Patrol or pier sentries to react.   The Navy currently is testing various barrier designs and deployment of a suitable barrier should be given high priority for funding.   A barrier does not eliminate the need for a surveillance system and harbor patrol boats, both of which are needed when sections of the barrier must be open for ship movements and to detect and react to efforts to penetrate the barrier.

In addition to the measures described above for mission essential areas, other buildings that have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to terrorist threats are also receiving attention.   For example, barriers have been put in place at the Navy Exchange and Commissary to prevent vehicles from penetrating the entrances and to increase standoff distances.   Additionally, all future Military Construction (MILCON) projects are being designed to meet Department of Defense AT/FP standoff distance requirements. For example, the design of the medical clinic expansion has been modified to meet the standoff distance requirement, and plans for future bachelor quarters' construction include sufficient space around the buildings to provide the required minimum standoff.

Defense in depth begins at the perimeter of the base, which currently is a vulnerability at Naval Station Norfolk.   A number of upgrades to perimeter security are programmed in the near future. Over the next six months gates will be installed at the four entrances that do not have them and existing gates will be strengthened to better resist penetration.   A security fence around the area that contains the Navy Exchange, Commissary, medical clinic and dental clinic will greatly enhance my ability to protect these vulnerable soft targets.   I also need to   move the Naval Station Norfolk truck inspection station off base.   At its current on-base location, a truck carrying a bomb would have already gained access to the base before we have an opportunity to inspect it.   We have developed an affordable proposal to build an austere interim truck inspection station off base that can be operational in a few months.   Over the long term, a permanent truck inspection station equipped with state of the art inspection equipment is needed.   We are developing a proposal for a Military Construction (MILCON) project to build a permanent truck inspection station.

Determining Threat Conditions and Threat Risk for Special Events

Military commanders declare tHREATCONs.   Naval Station Norfolk falls under the THREATCON set by CINCLANTFLT and Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. I as Commanding Officer may order increased force protection measures be set at Naval Station Norfolk, but cannot direct measures lower than those required at the level of THREATCON set by my chain of command.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Anti-Terrorist Alert Center (ATAC) is the primary source of threat information and warning, but is not the sole source for the Naval Station.   The Naval Station Norfolk Security Officer maintains a direct interface with the NCIS Foreign Counter-Intelligence Department Head, who provides local threat assessments and immediate evaluations of threats to the Naval Station.   NCIS maintains representation on the Federal Threat Working Group, which is chaired by the FBI and meets monthly. This Threat Working Group also includes representation from the Norfolk City Police Intelligence Unit and information is routinely shared on all criminal and domestic threats in the Norfolk area.   Other sources of threat intelligence are the Virginia State Police, U.S. Coast Guard, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, FBI, Secret Service, Joint Forces Intelligence Command, and the Army Criminal Investigation Division.

            Whenever a special event is being held on Naval Station Norfolk that involves visiting dignitaries, public access to the base, or both, the Security Officer prepares an Operational Risk Assessment for the event.   It evaluates all available intelligence on potential threats to the event and its participants, and outlines the special security precautions that will be taken to ensure that proper force protection is provided for the event. I approve the Operational Risk Assessment and forward it to the Regional Program Manager for Public Safety for information and, if required, his approval of regional security assets from outside Naval Station.   The same procedure is used for large public events off base that have significant Navy involvement.

Force Protection Response Procedures

When there is advance warning of an attack, the THREATCON is increased or I as installation commander order enhanced force protection measures.   Measures we would take include, but are not limited to, activating the Auxiliary Security Force (ASF) to enhance perimeter and mission essential area security, securing gates and placing barriers to better control access to mission essential areas, requiring 100% positive identification at all perimeter gates, and limiting base access to mission essential personnel when conditions warrant.   The specific measures we would take in a given situation would depend in part on the nature of the threat.

Naval Station Norfolk uses the defense in depth approach for responding to a threat or incident. Within each sector of the installation we have assigned a Police Response Component, capable of responding to an incident in his zone within two minutes.   Augments (at least five additional units) can be on scene within five minutes and provide containment and stabilization of an incident.   The basic concept is to secure access to the base and mission essential areas, notify supporting agencies (Regional Public Safety, Federal Agencies, Local and State Police, as necessary), secure movement on the installation, locate and isolate the threat, and take appropriate action to gain control over the situation, eliminate the threat, and re-establish security on the base.   Specific actions would depend on the nature of the threat or incident.

Force Protection Shortfalls and Funding Requirements

Some of the force protection enhancements described above, such as the upgrades to perimeter and pier gates, are already programmed and funded.   Others, such as the float line that marks the perimeter of the restricted area around the piers and supplies and equipment needed for flightline security, were funded by reallocating funds intended for other purposes. Many of the future enhancements I have identified, such as upgrades to the flightline fence and perimeter security, require additional resources.

       To date, I have reallocated about $231,000 of Port Operations funds to fabricate, install and maintain the float line and expect to spend an additional $24,000 through the end of fiscal year 2001. I estimate the "steady state" annual funding required for tending and maintaining float lines at all Navy piers in the Mid-Atlantic Region to be about $500,000. Costs are high because the float line is frequently damaged in storms; I am trying to drive those costs down through improvements in the design of the float line and by using stronger, more durable materials in its fabrication. I also will be able to reduce costs by replacing the large and unwieldy utility boats used for tending and maintaining the float line.

Funding shortfalls are not the only challenge I face.   Naval Station Norfolk does not have sufficient civilian police officers and military security force personnel to meet all force protection personnel requirements at THREATCON Normal.   I cope with this shortage by using shipboard personnel to augment Harbor Patrol, partially activating the Auxiliary Security Force on an on-going basis to guard one of the perimeter gates and augment shipboard personnel in guarding piers, and tasking aviation squadrons to man flightline gates. None of these measures is satisfactory because they take enlisted personnel from tenant commands, which has negative impact on their readiness.   Nor are those augmentees sufficient to meet all the requirements.   Authorized but currently vacant security force billets should be filled, and additional billets provided to eliminate this onerous burden on tenant commands and to properly man Naval Station Norfolk's security force.


            Naval Station Norfolk has taken numerous actions to enhance force protection using the defense in depth approach.   I am strongly supported by the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic; but they must balance increased force protection requirements against other requirements that directly impact fleet readiness. We will continue to do all we can to provide effective force protection.   Ultimately, however, the only way to provide effective force protection for the mission critical assets at Naval Station Norfolk, as well as the military and civilian personnel who work and live there, is to provide additional resources for force protection.

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