Past Features

July 5, 2017

Assuring Our Border Security
Make sure things work first

Glenn Spencer -- July 5, 2017
Time for Red Team Blue Team
    On June 12, 2017, the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security issued a report that summarized lessons learned from attempts by Customs and Border Protection to use technology on the the border.
    The report is a clear indictment Customs and Border Protection management.
    For example, it criticizes the so-called Boeing virtual fence project, also called SBInet,
"CBP ultimately terminated SBInet in 2011 after expending about $1 billion. SBInet clearly illustrates that poorly defined and documented operational requirements, and failure to adequately plan, results in missed milestones and wasted resources." (Page 10)
    I saw this coming eleven years ago, when I said: "Nowhere does SBI spell out a goal that can be measured "--- why couldn't CBP management have seen this same deficiency?
    The latest version of Boeing virtual fence is the Integrated Fixed Tower project, which also uses radar to guide cameras.
    The new OIG report pays particular attention to this CBP project.
  "In March 2014, GAO reported that CBP's Test and Evaluation Master Plan12 only described testing to determine the Integrated Fixed Tower's13 mission contribution but did not include testing operational effectiveness and suitability, which specifically identifies how effective and reliable a system is in meeting its operational requirements in its intended environment." (Page 11)
    In other words, CBP did not test these cameras --- costing in excess of $300 million so far --- to see if they can spot people crossing the border.
    I have taken a close look at where CBP put these cameras. See this -- and this --- and I doubt that they can see and track border intruders.
    It is time to settle the question of the utility of the Integrated Fixed Tower project once and for all. It is time to test them using a Red Team Blue Team simulation.
    Without the prior knowledge of CBP, DHS should send teams of people to cross the border (or very close to doing this) and try to get past the cameras without being detected.
    If, as suspected, this will be very easy to do, it would be incumbent on our government to launch a full investigation as to how and why such incompetence has been allowed to flourish for so long at Customs and Border Protection.