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Homeland Security


America's Shield Initiative (ASI)

Recognizing the need to improve border surveillance and remote assessment and monitoring technology, CBP began developing America's Shield Initiative (ASI) in June 2003, as a program to integrate surveillance technology, communications, and visualization tools. CBP's goal was to deliver new operational capability incrementally over a six-year acquisition period, while maintaining and modernizing the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System (ISIS). In 2005, ISIS was formally subsumed under ASI.

ASI is an integrated, national web of border security with centralized command designed to gain greater control of our borders with Canada and Mexico. ASI would not only improve U.S. electronic surveillance capabilities along the southern and northern borders, but it would significantly strengthen US ability to detect, intercept, and secure the borders against illegal aliens, potential terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, illegal drugs and other contraband.

With the advent of ASI, plans were to enhance electronic surveillance capabilities along the southern and northern land borders by improving the sensor and video surveillance equipment deployed to guard against the entry of illegal aliens, terrorists, weapons of mass destruction and contraband into the U.S. ASI would also integrate new state-of-the-market surveillance technologies (air, ground, and marine), increase interoperability with other law enforcement agencies using lessons-learned from the Arizona Border Control Initiative (ABCI) and other initiatives, and vastly improve CBP's command and control capabilities.

Modernization measures of ISIS equipment under ASI would include additional surveillance structures, upgraded and expanded surveillance equipment, and significantly enhanced detection and monitoring capabilities. The measures would also include improved links to CBP agents to provide direct visual or other detection data as well as integrating new surveillance technologies including air, ground, and marine. Underlining any surveillance enhancements would be the need to provide all-weather, 24-hour capability.

According to CBP, expanded use of surveillance technologies would be an effective force-multiplier, enabling agents to reduce requirements for static observation and provide an intelligence-based response. ASI would incorporate a means to evaluate the performance and effectiveness of enforcement actions. It was envisioned that ASI would collect performance metrics and provide managers with reports and analyses of its efficiency and effectiveness in enhancing the agents' enforcement capabilities. The chief of the Border Patrol would prioritize ASI deployments based on threat models. For example, the Arizona border, which experiences half of the nation's illegal alien traffic, will likely be an initial deployment priority.

DHS estimated that full implementation of ASI will cost approximately $2.5 billion. Because of the cost, the DHS Deputy Secretary's approval was required to initiate work. That approval was granted in September 2004. CBP officials advised that they planned to establish ASI requirements and objectives and then hire a contractor to serve as a prime integrator. The contractor would be responsible for designing and building an integrated system that best meets CBP objectives. Since receiving approval to proceed with ASI, CBP has been working with CBP-OIT and a consulting contractor to identify and refine ASI requirements.



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