Homeland Security Network Blog
Security Lessons From Israel #1: Four Hard Decisions for Border Control
Posted By: David W. Wallace
Founder & CEO of Surveillance One
David Wallace participated in SSI's Advanced Homeland Security Training in Israel, May 2015 mission.
In these next few publications I will reflect on the lessons I learned in defense and security while recently completing extended training in Israel. The best place to learn about defense and security is from those who are living in a bad neighborhood to start with - where nothing is more important than protecting their lives and way of life. We need a better grasp of this here at home where national security has been displaced by political correctness and timid politicians.
While in Israel, I visited the borders of Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. When it comes to border security, I left these sites with the sense that not only is it possible, but it's imperative.
We can secure our borders if we will. It is not as hard or as political as we have been led to believe... but we must be willing to make some hard decisions.
Israel does this effectively by using a combination of fortified walls, electronic detection fences and open terrain with natural landscape challenges - and of course IDF defense outposts.
The massive concrete walls constructed at various locations along the borders are expensive but are reserved for the most aggressive areas. They also serve to prevent sniper fire against everyday Israeli citizens and drivers.
The electronic detection fences are sensitive to approaches, cutting and climbing. Of course sometimes these fences are triggered by other instances that we call "false alarms", but the Israeli's prefer this sensitivity setting. "Let's keep the soldiers on their toes, busy, and knowing every little nook and cranny of the terrain... besides, it establishes a constant presence while patrolling," states Elliot Chodoff, a military and political analyst in the Middle East.
Some areas, like the border in this picture between Israel and the Hezbollah controlled towns in Lebanon (just 2 km away), have a combination of open terrain and electronic fences with guarded outposts... one would be a fool to try to pass through.
Some in the U.S. argue that the expense of creating such a secure border would be incredibly expensive... billions, or even cost prohibitive. But the Israeli response is, "How much does it cost to suffer through a catastrophic attack, or multiple catastrophic attacks?"
Four Hard Decisions:
We must be willing to turn away those who do not have authorization to pass - it does not matter the age, gender or race. We embrace our multi-cultural ethnicities and celebrate diversity, but all must enter in through the gate with a strong "denied at the border" policy. Otherwise, we simply become the next safe haven for terrorist organizations and organized crime to prosper against us... and it's already starting to happen.
We must be willing to "shoot to kill" those who seek to take American lives. Are we willing to take life to protect the whole of our country? Securing our borders is serious business and may seem inhumane at first until our border policies are firmly established. Until then, we remain vulnerable and life as we have known it remains at risk.
We must (as the Israelis have) come to the corporate belief that peace cannot be accomplished with those whose highest goal in life is to be martyred in the process of our deaths. If you question this modus operandi of our enemies, you simply haven't watched enough online videos of suicide bombers, terrorist attacks, beheadings and the burning alive of our captured allies.
We must be willing to make the fiscal investment in our future by securing our borders. Some say securing the borders is cost prohibitive or could run over $100B. But let's not forget that the 9/11 attack by 19 terrorists cost us nearly 3,000 lives, $120 billion in direct costs and 7 trillion in equity losses. Any statistical evaluation of risk will justify this investment.
The added benefits from securing our borders include the elimination of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and human trafficking. Not to mention the firm resistance of nuclear, biological or other weapons of mass destruction.
Protecting our borders is the first responsibility of our nation's sovereignty. It's time for America become an adult nation, move past our trendy teenage years and own a firm grasp of the value of what we hold and stand for in this world.
Special Note: This article deals specifically with the physical land borders of the U.S. - roughly 2,000 miles on the Mexican border and 5,500 miles on the Canadian border. It does not address the more undefined borders of oceanic, spatial, financial, commercial, cyber or otherwise. All defense establishments must be backed by preparation and swift response planning.
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