SEPTEMBER 05, 2012
In what may seem like a bad joke, a federal audit reveals that the Department of Defense (DOD) undermines national security with its long “fragmented, redundant and inconsistent” security policies that often overlap and are not coordinated.
This is downright scary, considering that the country’s security essentially depends on DOD installations and facilities being in the right place. It’s outlined on the massive agency’s website, which stresses that its job has never been more important as America fights terrorists who plan and carry out attacks on our facilities and our people.
The DOD is the nation’s largest employer with more than 1.4 million men and women on active duty and a civilian staff of 718,000. Another 1.1 million serve in the National Guard and reserve forces. The DOD’s physical plant, the Pentagon, is one of the world’s largest office buildings. The Pentagon grounds consist of several hundred thousand structures, taking up more than 30 million acres of land.
It’s a monstrous and complicated operation by any standard but this is after all, the military compound of the world’s most powerful nation. This makes the audit, conducted by the DOD Inspector General, all the more alarming. In a 17-page report, the agency watchdog outlines the dangers of the DOD’s inept security policies. “In addition, the sheer volume of security policies that are not coordinated or integrated makes it difficult for those at the field level to ensure consistent and comprehensive policy implementation,” the IG writes. “The fragmentation and lack of top-down coordination of the security enterprise undermines the DOD mission and national security.”
What does this all mean? That the DOD has at least 43 different policies covering the functional areas of information security, industrial security, operations security, research and technology protection, personnel security, physical security, and special access programs. This has been going on for decades, the IG points out. The solution to the decades-long “fragmentation and incoherence” is the development of a “comprehensive and integrated security policy,” the audit says.
This may sound simple, but as the DOD watchdog discovered, the “redundancies and other inefficiencies” persist in most disciplines because there are no clearly defined responsibilities and lines of authority for information security, physical security and information assurance. This applies to areas such as critical infrastructure protection, nuclear physical security, cyber security, foreign disclosure and technology.
Without offering specifics, the report paints a rather frightening picture of the inner workings of the planet’s most commanding military. It wasn’t that long ago that a separate audit exposed the DOD for blowing $2.7 billion on faulty software that was supposed to help cut costs by updating antiquated financial ledgers. The existing system creates serious management weaknesses but it’s still being used because the agency can’t get its act together.
The DOD has also come under fire recently for disclosing to Hollywood filmmakers the identity of a SEAL Team Six commander who participated in the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden. The atrocious breach was made public thanks to a Judicial Watch lawsuit that forced the DOD and CIA to each turn over more than 100 pages of records related to the scandal. Check them out here.
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