UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Chapter 10

In-Transit Security

In-transit security subjects the movement of cargo to different, and frequently, more demanding aspects of physical security. Cargoes may be moved via port, rail, pipeline, or convoy. Regardless of the mode of movement, commanders must aggressively apply the principles of physical security to their protection. Security forces must be provided at the most vulnerable areas of each cargo movement.

in-port cargo

10-1. Ports and harbors are prime targets for enemy and criminal activities. Perimeter areas of these facilities are more vulnerable because of the extensive distance and exposed beach or pier areas. Terminal areas may include fully developed piers and warehouses or may be an unimproved beach where logistics-over-the-shore (LOTS) or roll-on/roll-off (RORO) operations are conducted.

10-2. If a Theater Army Area Command (TAACOM) MP unit must provide security for cargo in a port, the main effort is to provide security from the perimeter of the port outward. Security measures focus on aggressive patrolling to detect, report and, if need be, combat enemy threats. Measures may include—

  • Conducting route and area reconnaissance patrols.
  • Developing police intelligence in the area of operations (AO).
  • Controlling traffic in the area surrounding the port.
  • Conducting mounted or dismounted patrols (with MWDs, if available) around the port's perimeter.
  • Establishing an access-control/ID section.
  • Watching for diversions of supplies out of the port.
  • Providing a response force to react to incidents inside the port's perimeter.
  • Providing observation and early warning of threat ground and air attacks.

10-3. When providing security for cargo, the focus is on providing a security overwatch for the cargo as it moves from the port to the combat area. Inside a port's perimeter, access to cargo is limited by—

  • Operating random mounted or dismounted patrols (with MWDs, if available).
  • Using combined patrols as a response force for incidents inside the perimeter.
  • Controlling access to the most restricted areas.

10-4. On occasion, the MP may have to safeguard highly critical cargo inside a port's perimeter. The type and degree of security provided is based on logistical security information. Some examples are the—

  • Types and values of the cargo stored.
  • Vulnerability of the cargo to a land threat.
  • Likelihood of theft, diversion, pilferage, or sabotage by military personnel, local workers, black marketers, or enemy agents.
  • Location and nature of the port facilities.
  • HN agreements.
  • Degree of entrance and exit controls.

10-5. Safeguarding the most critical cargo waiting to be transferred to land transport is the priority. The following measures help to safeguard stored cargo:

  • Establishing access-control procedures.
  • Searching bundles and packages being taken from the area.
  • Examining trip tickets and documentation of cargo vehicles.

10-6. If the restricted area is a pier or other maritime environment, access from the water must be controlled as well as from the land. Entry on the landward side of a pier can be limited with fencing, pass control, and aggressive patrolling; but the part of the pier that protrudes over the water is accessible from the sides and from below. Methods for securing the pier along its water boundaries include—

  • Patrols (both walking on the pier and in small boats).
  • Protective lighting.
  • Log booms.
  • Nets.
  • Buoys or floats.
  • Anchored or pile-mounted navigational aids and signaling devices.
  • Barges.

10-7. While most of the barriers described above will stop or impede access to facilities from boats or swimmers, nets are among the most effective. Well-marked, partially submerged objects are also effective; however, there may be legal prohibitions against placing barriers that may constitute a hazard to navigation. These barriers should be placed only after coordination with and approval by the appropriate legal and HN authorities. Sometimes it is best to close off the waterside of a pier. A floating boom will keep small boats out. Suspending a cable or a chain-link net from the bottom of the boom will deny access underwater.

10-8. At least two security zones must be established on a facility's waterside—the reaction zone and the keep-out (exclusion) zone. Security forces in these zones notify vessels, craft, and swimmers that they are entering restricted waters and should alter their course. Security forces may stop and search intruders if necessary. Security zones should extend at least 1,000 meters from the nearest protected asset; however, in some port areas this large security zone is not possible. In such cases, other measures (such as boat patrols) must be increased to mitigate the possibility of attack.

10-9. A reaction zone extends from the high-water mark to a distance beyond the maximum range of anticipated waterborne threats. Security forces will stop and challenge intruders inside the reaction zone.

10-10. The keep-out zone is the zone closest to the protected assets. It extends from the asset to the maximum range of anticipated threat weapons. Security forces should prevent the entry of all unauthorized craft or vessels into this zone. The tactical response force (in this case, a boat) may be used. In addition to organic security, forces may be provided by HN or contracted personnel.

10-11. To keep the cargo secured while transferring from one transport method to another, the traffic moving in and out of cargo-handling areas must be controlled. MP forces can—

  • Set up a single access-control point.
  • Erect field-expedient barriers. Truck trailers or other large vehicles can be used to constrict the traffic flow if permanent barriers are not in place.
  • Limit entry to mission-essential personnel, vehicles, and equipment (as designated by the port authority).

10-12. A holding area should be provided if gates are used by vehicles other than cargo vehicles. Cargo vehicles can pull into the holding area while they are being checked. The holding area should be large enough to handle the volume and size of traffic. A wooden deck or platform at, or slightly higher than, the level of the truck bed can be used to facilitate checking. The platform must be at least as long as the vehicle (such as an empty flatbed trailer). Such a platform makes it quicker and easier to observe and check cargo.

10-13. Cargo is less likely to be diverted if a close watch is kept on cargo documentation and container safety. Containerized cargo is less likely to be stolen or sabotaged. However, containers must be watched closely as they are filled and sealed. Cargo can be pilfered before the seal is applied. An unsealed container can be moved to a stacking area; or someone may apply a false seal, break the seal later, remove the cargo, and then apply a legitimate seal.

10-14. At access-control points—

  • Inbound and outbound containers should be inspected. Signs of damage or unserviceability should be observed.
  • Containers must be inspected for the presence of seals or locks and hinges. Their serviceability should also be checked.
  • The document's transport number, container number, and seal number should be checked to ensure that they match those numbers on the transportation control-and-movement document. (Check the seals by handling them, not simply by a visual check.)
  • Containers with valid documents only should be allowed to pass inbound or outbound through the control point.


10-15. Because a train's movement is determined directly by the condition of the tracks, cargo moving by rail is particularly vulnerable to attack. The destruction of switches, signals, or the track may be a delaying harassment; or it could trigger a major catastrophe. Since railroads can be such high-value targets, the commander may task MP or other US forces to provide on-board security for critical cargo.

10-16. Most train crews consist of four or five people who control the train—the engineer, a conductor, a fireman, a senior brakeman, and a brakeman or a flagman. The conductor is the train commander unless a transportation railway service officer is assigned to the train. The train commander is responsible for the train's operation and security. He makes all decisions affecting the train. The security force's commander is responsible for the cargo's security. The train crew and the security force watch for and report any discrepancies or interruptions to normal procedures at any time during the movement. Information about the movement is usually sent along the movement route by the chief dispatcher through a telephone circuit.

10-17. A four- to six-person security force is usually enough to secure railway shipments of sensitive freight, but additional security forces may be needed for moving critical cargo. In addition to a military security force, the shipper or loading agency may send specially trained personnel with highly sensitive cargo. The number of MP in a train security force depends on the—

  • Sensitivity of the freight.
  • Priority of need for the freight.
  • Terrain over which the train will pass.
  • Length of the train.
  • Duration of the trip.
  • Degree of threat.

10-18. Security forces prepare and maintain a record (by car number) of guarded cars in the train. Security forces can ride in—

  • A specific car that requires protection.
  • The caboose.
  • A security-force car. (If only one security car is used, it should be near the center of the train; if more than one is used, cars should be spaced to provide the best protection for the train.)

10-19. The security force on a train must keep a constant check on car doors, seals, wires, and locks to detect tampering. The following instances must be noted and reported immediately:

  • Irregularities in procedures.
  • The presence or actions of unauthorized persons.
  • Deficiencies or incidents that occur.

10-20. When planning rail-cargo security, the time schedule for the rail movement must be obtained. A map reconnaissance of the route should be provided, detailing bridges and tunnels that are especially vulnerable.

10-21. Security-force actions should be planned at scheduled stops or relief points, and forces should be deployed according to these plans. Locations of MP units and other friendly forces should be plotted along the route, and their radio frequencies and call signs should be noted. An intelligence report covering the route should also be obtained. This report should indicate sites where sabotage may occur, attacks may be expected, or thefts and pilferage are likely.

10-22. The shipper is responsible for the security of all carload freight until it is turned over to the Transportation Railway Service and the loaded cars are coupled to a locomotive for movement. The shipper or field transportation officer should complete the freight waybill or the government bill of lading. This report shows the car number, a brief description of contents, the weight of the load, the consignor, the consignee, the origin, and the destination. In addition, it may show special instructions for the movement or security of the car and its contents. Careful documentation is essential for—

  • Securing the shipment.
  • Locating cars with critical cargo.
  • Ensuring that priority movement is authorized.

10-23. Transportation officers are responsible for the completeness, correctness, and proper handling of waybills. Each car must have a waybill; this allows cars to be detached or left behind should they become defective en route. If this occurs, a team from the security force must remain with the cargo until they are relieved.

10-24. Railway cars are sealed after loading. A seal shows that a car has been inventoried and inspected. The standard method of sealing a railway boxcar door (in addition to padlocks or wires) is with a soft metal strap or a cable seal that contains a serial number. Maintaining rigid accountability of all seals is necessary to prevent the undetected replacement of an original seal with another. While sealing does not prevent pilferage, a broken seal is a good indicator that the car and its contents have been tampered with. Train security forces or operating crews can easily check the seals on cars when the train stops. Broken seals should be reported immediately to help pinpoint the time and place of a possible theft. When vehicles are shipped by railcar, sensitive and high-value items must not be secured in the vehicles. Container-express (CONEX) and military-van (MILVAN) containers are ideal for shipping these and other small items on flatcars since they greatly reduce the chance of pilferage. These containers must be locked and sealed and, if possible, placed door to door for additional security.

10-25. When operations permit, cars containing highly pilferable freight, high-priority cargo, or special shipments are grouped in the train to permit the most economical use of security forces. When flatcars or gondolas are used to transport sensitive or easily pilfered freight, security forces should be placed where they can continuously observe and protect these cars.

10-26. When the train is stopped, security forces should dismount and check both sides of the train, verifying that seals, locks, and wires are intact. They must report a broken seal immediately to help pinpoint the time and place of the theft.

10-27. If the security force is relieved by another security force while en route, a joint inspection of the cars is conducted. The relief force signs the record being kept on the guarded cars. Consignees assume responsibility for the security of loaded freight cars at the time they arrive at their destination. When the trip is complete, the receiver or his agent will inspect the cars. The security force obtains a receipt for the cars, which is then attached to the trip report. The trip report should include—

  • Dates and times the trip started and ended.
  • Any additional information required by the local SOP or command directive.
  • Recommendations for correcting deficiencies or for improving future security on trains.

10-28. Because unloading points are highly vulnerable to pilferage and sabotage, cars should be unloaded as soon as possible to reduce the opportunity for loss. MP forces are normally not available for the security of freight in railway yards. For more information regarding rail cargo, see FM 55-20.

pipeline cargo

10-29. Pipeline systems are widely used in a theater of operation to transport bulk petroleum products or other liquids. Such systems are open to a number of security threats from the point of entry to the point of final delivery. Pipeline systems are composed of storage and dispersing facilities, pump stations, and extended pipelines. They also include discharging facilities for tankers at ports or other water terminals.

10-30. The type and extent of risk to a pipeline varies with the level of conflict in the AO. In a communications zone, the chief hazard is likely to be pilferage. Pipelines can be tapped by loosening the flange bolts that join sections of pipe or by cutting holes in the hose line. The risk rises if gasoline is scarce and expensive on the civilian market. Sabotage is a security hazard during all levels of conflict. It is committed by any method such as simply opening pipe flanges, cutting a hose line, or setting fires and causing explosions to destroy portions of the line.

10-31. In areas of conflict, the likelihood of sabotage and interdiction increases. Pipeline systems are vulnerable to air attacks, especially aboveground sections of the pipeline, pump stations, and storage facilities.

10-32. Security forces should be deployed in the best manner to provide coverage to the most vulnerable portions of the pipeline that are at the greatest risk to enemy, terrorist, partisan, and ground attack. Patrols should be set up to screen isolated areas and remote pumping stations. Sensors should also be considered, along with aerial security. Security patrols will—

  • Detect, report, and respond to attacks on or sabotages of the pipeline.
  • Monitor critical parts of the pipeline on a routine but random basis.
  • Monitor ground sensors and other intrusion-detection devices. These are often used at pump stations and elsewhere along the pipeline to detect and identify threats to the system.
  • Check line-pressure devices in pipeline and pumping facilities. These devices monitor the flow and detect breaks in the line, which may indicate pilferage of gasoline (or other petroleum products).

10-33. Dedicated security forces are rarely sufficient in number for the surveillance of an entire pipeline system. All available supporting forces (in the course of their normal duties) should observe and report items of intelligence for further investigation. Examples of suspicious activities in the pipeline area might include the unusual presence of commercial tanker trucks, the appearance of gasoline drums or cans, or an increased use of motor vehicles in fuel-scarce areas. Other resources available to the commander for coordination and support include HN and MP elements responsible for the AO, as well as the security officer of the petroleum group or battalion.

Convoy Movement

10-34. As convoy movements are tactical in nature and are discussed in detail in FM 19-4, they will be briefly discussed here. When moving by convoy, consideration should be made for the following:

  • Congested traffic areas.
  • Travel during night hours when traffic is reduced rather than travel during daylight hours when traffic congestion is heaviest.
  • National holidays. Traffic may be three times heavier than on a normal day. Also, if you are moving a convoy overseas on a national holiday, the HN people may not be receptive to your action and the result may be unwanted reactions on their part.
  • The use of a marked HN police vehicle in conjunction with the convoy. The HN people are more receptive to an activity when it is represented by one of their own. Additionally, the HN police may be able to diffuse a potential crisis.
  • Security of the convoy. Security of the convoy is foremost important both during movement and stops. During extended or overnight stops, special consideration must be given to securing the loaded vehicles.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list