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U.S. Transportation Command’s Mission Assurance Division assesses, identifies, and mitigates risks to the organization, as well as to its operations and personnel

  • Published
  • By Michael P. Kleiman
  • U.S Transportation Command

Like a firewall security system protecting a computer or network from internal and external threats, the U.S. Transportation Command’s Mission Assurance Division identifies mission risks from inside and outside the organization.

As a result, USTRANSCOM’s critical capability of projecting and sustaining combat power at a time and place of the nation’s choosing remains robust.

Comprised of more than 60 military members, federal civil servants, and contractors, MA synchronizes all risk management programs and activities across all domains with support from the USTRANSCOM directorates.  They identify how known vulnerabilities, threats, and hazards could result in risk to the command’s mission of deploying the joint force to the right place, at the right time, and in the required scale to be immediate, decisive, and lethal. The division, part of the Operations Directorate (TCJ3), consists of four branches: MA Programs, MA Operations, Insider Threat Analysis, and Protection Programs, as well as one office, Information Operations. 

All five synchronize their efforts assessing and identifying risks, as well as providing recommended mitigation measures to command senior leaders. In doing so, the MA team protects USTRANSCOM assets and infrastructure globally.

“Due to the evolving and increasingly-complex global security environment, MA is a 24/7 operation but it takes all of the TRANSCOM team to be successful. We – continuously and collaboratively – share information with transportation stakeholders, conduct “Risk to Mission” and “Risk to Force” assessments, and provide recommendations to leadership so they can make an informed risk decision to either accept or mitigate the threat(s),” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kenneth “Mike” Shirley, chief, MA Division. “We’re ultimately responsible for mitigating threats to the defense transportation system, which moves the joint force from the base to the battlefield.”

One of the MA Division’s branches, Protection Programs, manages six distinct areas of emphasis, USTRANSCOM’s Mission Assurance Division, including the defense security enterprise, antiterrorism, continuity of operations, and emergency management. In addition, the DSE encompasses four realms of security: industrial, information, personnel, and physical.

“Our branch provides multiple protection-related customers services.  For example, the industrial security specialist ensures the appropriate security language is included in approximately 100 classified contracts annually,” stated Steve Strait, chief, Protection Programs Branch, USTRANSCOM’s MA Division. “Our personnel security specialist works daily to ensure our members have current eligibility for classified access. The information security specialist also daily identifies issues and actions associated with the protection of classified information. Nearly every week, we are dealing with facility physical security actions.  Much of our effort is focused on developing or enforcing implementation measures to reduce security risks and unauthorized disclosures.”

Protection Programs also focuses on emergency preparedness – providing active attacker response, bleeding control, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator training for command members.  In addition, the branch conducts mandatory travel security briefings for USTRANSCOM military, civilian, and contract personnel traveling overseas for work-related or personal reasons.

“MA is a synchronized construct.  There is a lot of crossover and information sharing between the five respective entities in the MA Division,” said Andrew Daub, protection specialist of the Protection Programs Branch, USTRANSCOM’s MA Division. “Protection Programs bring a more tactical flavor to our MA efforts, as we’re jointly concerned with security risks, hazards, and threats to USTRANSCOM Headquarters’ facilities and personnel, as well as locations worldwide.”

Another Protection Programs Branch entity, the Protection Services Center, located in the breezeway between east and west buildings of the USTRANSCOM HQ building, administers physical security access – for command members and visitors – within the facility.

“Ultimately, the MA Division strives to ensure continuous global mobility mission assurance for the command,” Shirley said. “We have the right people and programs in the right place to do so.”

USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power at a time and place of the nation’s choosing. Powered by dedicated men and women, we underwrite the lethality of the Joint Force, we advance American interests around the globe, and we provide our nation's leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options, while creating multiple dilemmas for our adversaries.