Transportation is one critical infrastructure and comprises of all major national transportation nodes that include aviation, maritime traffic, pipelines, rail, trucking and busing, highways and public mass transit. Of all the critical infrastructure sectors, transportation assets are among the most robust and diverse. Therefore, the transportation has vast capabilities that include the virtually support almost all other critical infrastructure sectors. According to Sauter & Carafano (2005), many critical sectors depend upon the transportation sectors. Therefore, there are concerns that any disruptions could have a profound rippling effect throughout the economy.
With Al-Qaeda showing interest in the attack of transportation assets, concerns include hijacking and the attempt to blow up planes, attack of tunnels, bridges, airports and railways. These attacks might range from explosive devices to new innovative threats. For example, there are concerns that commercial aircrafts are vulnerable to military shoulder-fired air defense weapons that might be available to terrorists. Also, according to Wilen (2003), there are concerns that the trucking and busing industry is vulnerable in the sense that terrorists might use trucks and buses as tools. This arises from their multi-modal distribution networks. Sabotage of railways and subways can lead to mass casualties and these are some of the concerns in the transportation sector.
However, there are initiatives put in place to address these concerns. For example, major national programs in the transportation sector have been tailor made with the aim of meeting the unique needs of various transportation nodes. There are new security initiatives as well as research on options that can be used to protect commercial aircrafts from shoulder-fired missiles (Sauter & Carafano, 2005). Maritime security has been improved to meet the post-9/11 legislation requirements. Also, there are similar efforts in rail and mass transit security with the establishment of national security practice standards. There has been research and development on advanced technologies used to screen containers, passengers and baggage.
Sauter, M.A. & Carafano, J.J. (2005) Homeland Security: A Complete Guide to Understanding, Preventing and Surviving Terrorism. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Wilen, S.B. (2003, February 10) Countering Terrorism Threats: Trucking Industry and Multi- Modal Distribution Network Vulnerabilities. Retrieved from http://www.intlhorizons.com/article-trucking.htm