NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs
Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, Deputy Commander of U.S. Northern Command, and Mr. Peter Neffenger, Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, talk just before entering headquarters of North American Aerospace Defense Command and USNORTHCOM. Neffenger was at the command talking with senior NORAD and USNORTHCOM officials on the importance of current information sharing between TSA and the two commands and to share Neffenger’s vision for mitigating current and future threats to transportation both in the homeland and abroad.
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado - During a recent visit to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command headquarters in Colorado Springs, the head of the Transportation Security Administration reaffirmed that sharing information at all levels between federal agencies is critical to the success of security and homeland defense-focused organizations.
"There is no clear dividing line in what we do and how we do it," said TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger. "Our work is part of a continuum involving defense and security, each playing integral roles. If you look at the work of the North American air defense, and then compare it to transportation security, in essence we have the same objective of protecting our nation's complex transportation network."
TSA and USNORTHCOM were both formed in the wake of 9/11, and those events have shaped how TSA has operated over the last 15 years. And with air travel and overland and rail commerce traffic at an all-time high in the U.S., Neffenger said he has a much clearer vision of how he intends to move the organization toward the next level of national security.
"We were born following a national crisis, and, to some extent, we face unpredictable forms of crisis every day," said Neffenger. "What we're trying to do now is mature the organization to be one that goes just beyond responding to the immediate crisis, one that thinks in terms of managing an entire security ecosystem built around transportation."
TSA is the nation's key transportation security organization, and when th evirtual world intersects with the physical world - all the way from booking a flight online to boarding an aircraft - there are challenges, said Neffenger.
Neffenger also highlighted the importance of TSA's employees to the all-important aspect of TSA's core missions in shared security for the nation's highways, railroads, ports, mass transit systems and pipelines.
"Of nearly 60,000 people, more than 45,000 are uniformed frontline officers, the people you see at the airport or our federal air marshals ... It's no different than any other dedicated workforce who raise their hand and takes an oath of office - and every one of them does - many of them former military. About 25 percent of our frontline officers are former military -quite a few are people who have been in government service and wanted to do something to directly help this nation."
Neffenger also talked about his "Administrator's Intent" for the organization and the three simple principles he stresses day-to-day in leading a diverse workforce dealing within a multifaceted global transportation environment.
"My intent remains focused on mission, the investment in our people and commitment to excellence. If that is what we believe, we will be driven by those principles. At the end of the day, we'll get really good - much better - at what we do. And if you listen to the people who deliver the mission, you'll actually learn how to effectively deliver the mission."