Q & A on Shoulder-fired Missile Stockpile Security

In November 2006, FAS analyst Matt Schroeder interviewed Mr. Dave Diaz, formerly the program manager for the DTRA SALW Program and currently the DoD Liaison on the Interagency MANPADS Task Force, about the importance of strong stockpile security practices for preventing the theft, loss and diversion of shoulder-fired missiles, and US efforts to improve stockpile security worldwide.

Below is a transcript of the interview.

Acronym Key:

APEC = Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum
DoD = U.S. Department of Defense
DTRA = Defense Threat Reduction Agency (Defense Department)
MANPADS = Man-Portable Air Defense Systems
OAS = Organization of American States
OSCE = Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
PSSM = Physical Security and Stockpile Management
WA = Wassenaar Arrangement
WRA = Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (State Department)


Interview Transcript

1) How many manpads has DTRA/WRA helped to secure (versus destroy)?

- Literally thousands, though the exact number is classified. The goal is to destroy excess or at-risk stocks and to better secure and manage the reduced number of systems retained for legitimate defense needs. We’ve been very active in every region of the world.

2) Can you provide examples of specific PSSM improvements made by foreign governments in response to a DTRA assessment/orientation that you believe reduced the likelihood of theft or diversion of manpads?

- Completing 100% inventories, instituting regular surveys strengthened with external or senior-level audits, improving external security like fencing and lighting, improving staff training and rehearsing security responses, and standardizing oversight procedures.

3) Besides Australia, are there other countries that are assisting – through the provision of financial or technical assistance – with PSSM improvements?

- The UK and Germany are doing both. We coordinate regularly with them on bilateral efforts and on initiatives and programs conducted under the auspices of multilateral organizations like NATO and the OSCE. For a more exhaustive list of donors – which would include the Netherlands, Norway, and many others – you may want to contact the UN or the OSCE.

4) A US government official told me that infrastructure and resource issues are a significant barrier to fully implementing the PSSM requirements in the Wassenaar Arrangement’s Elements for Export Controls of MANPADS (and the OAS, OSCE and APEC adaptations of the Elements). The official went as far as to claim that international telephone calls to confirm the receipt of weapons shipments are a financial strain for some countries. Is this an exaggeration? If not, are there more than just a couple of countries to which this would apply?

- No, it’s not an exaggeration, and it does apply to a number of countries. Assistance programs are available from the United States, other donors, and multilateral organizations to help governments properly secure, manage and reduce those stockpiles. Often, “right-sizing” stockpiles through a destruction program can free up resources to better secure the stocks that are retained for defense needs.

5) If you could revise the PSSM requirements in the Elements, would you do anything differently?

- From a technical perspective, the WA Elements are a useful and important baseline for military forces to implement.

- For any broader answer regarding USG policy towards WA Elements, we refer you to the Office of Conventional Arms Threat Reduction in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation at the Department of State (DOS/ISN/CATR).

6) Does the USG have detailed information on the PSSM practices of members of the WA, OSCE, APEC and OAS? If so, approximately how many are in compliance with the PSSM requirements in the Elements?

- These multilateral organizations and arrangements have established numerous information exchanges that provide their member States with some level of transparency into the establishment and implementation of PSSM standards. For more information on what those exchanges might reflect, we refer you to the Office of Conventional Arms Threat Reduction in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation at the Department of State (DOS/ISN/CATR).

7) There are several MANPADS producers and major importers – India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and Egypt – that are not parties to any of the multilateral manpads agreements. Do you have detailed information about their PSSM practices? If so, are they as strong as the Elements? If not, are these countries a proliferation concern, and what is being done to address that concern?

- DTRA has not conducted comprehensive on-site assessments of the PSSM facilities and procedures of these countries.

- For any broader answer regarding US government policy towards these countries, we refer you to the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the Department of State (DOS/PM/WRA) and the Office of Conventional Arms Threat Reduction in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation at the Department of State (DOS/ISN/CATR).

8 ) What are the biggest barriers to fully implementing the PSSM requirements in the Elements?

- Lack of political will of governments with those systems to properly resource full implementation of best practices.

9) During a House International Relations Committee hearing in May, Dr. John Hillen, former Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, observed that “…there is a bit phenomenon in the way that we have been approaching this right now, where we do look under the street light for our keys because there is a light there.” One interpretation of this statement is that the manpads secured and destroyed thus far are the low-hanging fruit, not necessarily the most dangerous or vulnerable missiles. Is this the case?

- From an implementation perspective, we are making inroads wherever we can, based on integrated US priorities, the efforts of the US Combatant Commanders to engage with countries in their regions, and requests for assistance from partner nations. Any stockpiles at risk of proliferation are at risk of proliferation.

- For any broader answer regarding US government policy towards priorities, we would refer you to either the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the Department of State (DOS/PM/WRA) or the Office of Conventional Arms Threat Reduction in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation at the Department of State (DOS/ISN/CATR).

10) In terms of raising PSSM practices to acceptable levels (i.e. to a point where it is highly unlikely that a missile will be lost or stolen except in extraordinary circumstances), how far have we come, i.e. approximately what percentage of countries meet this criteria?

- That question is impossible to answer authoritatively without conducting comprehensive on-site assessments within every armed force in the world. Since we can’t answer it authoritatively, I’m not going to swag a judgment of other governments and the extent to which they implemented their responsibilities and commitments.

- That said, PSSM is about risk mitigation, but – as your question suggests – some risks can’t be eliminated completely. Effective PSSM practices must be implemented in a coordinated fashion to address the many risks and threats that face these stockpiles. The international community has done a great deal to encourage and facilitate improved implementation, and the U.S. has been an essential leader in that effort. Every time the U.S. assists countries with their PSSM, and every time those governments implement needed improvements, whatever that global percentage may be gets increased.

- The multilateral organizations and arrangements we’ve discussed have established numerous information exchanges that provide their member States with some level of transparency into the establishment and implementation of PSSM standards. For more information on what those exchanges might reflect, we refer you to either the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the Department of State (DOS/PM/WRA) or the Office of Conventional Arms Threat Reduction in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation at the Department of State (DOS/ISN/CATR).

Tags: , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply