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By Warrior Global Security
US Global Security Pivots to Counter High-Tech Threats – Near-Peer Rivals, Drones & Cyberattacks
US global security forces and civilians have been widening their investigative and protective aperture to adjust to a fast-changing threat landscape and emerging risks from adversaries such as cyberattacks, drone intrusions and even electronic warfare or chem-bio concerns.
Such perspectives pertain not only to US Embassies and installations overseas but are also interwoven with US military protective units when VIPs and senior leaders visit deployed forces in high risk areas at Forward Operating Bases.
Agencies such as the US Secret Service and military liaison teams also recognize that the country, as a whole, is shifting from a more narrowly configured counterinsurgency and counterterrorism emphasis to include a stepped-up focus on near-peer and nation state threats as well.
Given that the US Secret Service, in close collaboration with the military, regularly conducts preliminary investigations of potential travel locations, acute recognition of newer threats is an essential element of the calculus.
“Near peer rivals have drones which are now much more sophisticated than others. This is a new cutting-edge horizon,” A.T. Smith, former deputy director of the US Secret Service and current Senior Advisor to the Torres Company, an international training and security firm, told Warrior Maven.
Newer drones, in particular, are now engineered with longer-range, high-resolution sensors and also armed with threating precision weaponry, a scenario which naturally requires modern, high-tech defense strategies and technologies.
Torres, which supports both the US military and State Dept, works closely with US protective services, the US military and various host nations to ensure installation and personnel safety. Smith said his primary task with Torres will be to examine the make-up of global security forces and ensure that existing protection of US assets abroad is continuing to make use of the best emerging technologies available.
“The investigative piece helps you prepare for protection,” Smith explained. “We work on being proactive in terms of the relationships with the host countries.”
The US Army, for instance, often conducts “red-team” assessments where they draw upon how a potential enemy might seek to attack to better identify potential protective vulnerabilities at FOBs around the world.
Naturally, many of the existing tactics, techniques and procedures are not discussed for security reasons, the military does deploy reinforced structures, perimeter security mechanisms, long-range sensors and strategically placed protective weapons at US locations overseas. In fact, the Army expects to have laser weapons and new interceptor missiles in place, regularly integrated with advanced radar and fire control, to track and knock out incoming enemy attacks.
Smith explained that a wide range of military and civilian mechanisms are put in place to properly identify threats in advance of VIP travels. In today’s global threat environment, given the often-changing European force posture of Russia and Chinese movements in the South China Sea, security forces naturally now explore a widening scope regarding US foreign-based installation security procedures. --- To Read Global Security Story on A.T. Smith's Arrival at Torres AES CLICK HERE ---
Russian and Eastern European hackers, for example, are a particular area of concern among security professionals, Smith explained. Additionally, the Chinese are widely known to have put land-based weapons and even fighter aircraft in key areas of the disputed South China Sea region – prompting strong condemnation from US leaders.
Therefore, current areas of fast-growing emphasis include ensuring there are well-fortified cyber-defenses in place. Smith explained. During his tenure with Torres, he will work with senior advisors to maintain the most effective security and training mechanisms currently in place. Torres, for example, works closely with the US State Dept. to provide Embassy security at a large number of foreign locations.
Also, Torres is among some of the key providers of “combatives”, or hand-to-hand combat training, as well as cybersecurity training for US government security officials. This training, Smith explained, increasing includes a now deeply entrenched recognition of growing cyberattack risks to forward-operating forces, diplomats and military forces.
"At Torres, we work vigorously to adapt to a fast-evolving threat environment which, given today's global circumstances, brings new nuances on a regular basis," Torres CEO Jerry Torres said.
Given the alarming pace of technological progress in the cyber domain, threats often consistently evolve and emerge in new and troubling ways. Smith said he will focus intently on these newer threats during his role with Torres.
“When it comes to interacting with a host country, security in the old days was centered around counterfeiting or credit card fraud. Now, cyber concerns, as they relate to the electrical infrastructure or financial sector, are a large aspect of a field office investigative mission,” Smith said.
Also, despite the growing emphasis upon near-peer and nation state threats, the US security apparatus is by no means less focused upon global terrorist and “lone-wolf” malicious actors, he added. As part of these fast-moving adjustments, Smith explained that there are now advanced screening technologies at US Embassies established to address these threats.
“During the days of the Kennedy assassination, the major threat was someone with a long-range rifle. That was pretty much it. During the 1980s, prior to 9-11, US Embassies did not make significant use of magnetometers at protected sites,” Smith said.
Presidents, Vice Presidents and senior military flag officers now travel far more than they used to in previous decades, a circumstance which underscores the need for US government and US-oriented security industries to strengthen collaboration with friendly host countries and be positioned to rapidly adapt as the global security situation evolves.